My toy poodle puppy is almost 5 months now and has learned that he gets treats for listening to commands. Problem is he knows when I don’t have a treat and doesn’t listen without one. Any suggestions on how to give commands without treats every time?
You may be doing what I did when training for potty patch, I gave a treat every time, so Cayenne would look at me after getting her treat run back to potty patch squat and come for a treat nothing came out, the was trying to con me so I did as recommended and decreased in treats, now she expects none and uses patach
Relying on the treat to lure a behavior for too long turns food into a bribe, not a reward. It's a trap, but you can escape. To fix this, get your treat pouch ready and practice something easy your dog already knows, like sit.
Have a treat ready, ask for a sit, when you get a sit, reward as always.
Repeat two more times.
The fourth time, reach in your treat pouch, get an imaginary treat and hide it in your hand, ask for a sit. After your dog sits, show the dog your empty hand, but give a real one anyway.
Ask for a down, same game. Three times real, one time imaginary.
Do this for a week.
Following week, real/imaginary/real/imaginary.
Following week, real/imaginary/imaginary/real.
Following week, imaginary/real/imaginary/imaginary.
After that only hold imaginary treats in your hand, give real treats after behavior.
To prevent the bribe habit from starting again, when you're teaching a new behavior, remember the rule of four. The first three times, lure the dog with a visible treat. Fourth time, lure with an empty hand. Click (or say YES!) and treat.
I often practice with treats in a box on a shelf, instead of in my treat pouch or my hand. That way, I can tell if my dog really is following directions, or just following a snack.
I would do as Click describes and eventually you will make sure your treat reward is on a randomized schedule (the little boogers seem to be able to count, so you can't do every third time for a treat either in the long run).
I would also include life rewards like playing tug or a couple of rounds of fetch interspersed with food rewards. I use spin and tug and a fetch based game mixed with food rewards in training with both poodles.