I've an 8 week old German Shepherd. We've had him nearly 2 weeks.

We're feeding him a mixture of raw meat/organs and dried large breed puppy food.

He's very friendly and gentle, and is gaining size/weight at a rate of around 1kg/week.

The issue is that with the diet he's on, he's not really keen on treats. I've tried several different types, but he's either not hungry, or they're not appetising enough for him to get excited about. He doesn't even eat them.

Whenever I take him out into the garden, he's used to going to the same place and doing his business, I then shout him in and praise him heavily. This gets him excited, but I've no treats to reinforce this with.

I feel it's partly due this that he's still peeing indoors and there's no warning he's about to do it.

Any advice, as this is my first puppy since adulthood.


  • Deleted some comments offering answers. If you have an answer post an answer using the "Your Answer" button below. Feb 16, 2016 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


Well since James Jenkins decided to delete my comment, I'll add it as an answer.

You should try out clicker training. In my experience with my dog, she wanted to play rather than eat treats, but she responded really well to the clicker sound. The basic concept is to click a button that makes a sound to reinforce good behavior. This is usually paired with a treat, but in cases like yours, it can work alone.

Give it a try! You can find clicker training devices at your local pet store. Here is a link to a helpful website on clicker training: Clicker Training Your Dog

  • The click is paired with a treat in the beginning to associate the sound with the reward. Eventually the treat is phased out as the puppy learns what the sound means. I'm afraid that without that association the click won't have any meaning to the puppy. Unless you have an idea of how to replace the treat with another reward association, I'm afraid this doesn't really answer the question.
    – Spidercat
    Feb 17, 2016 at 18:50
  • @Spidercat In the previously deleted comments, the OP said it sounded like a good idea. I've personally used this method for training dogs and it will work without treats. The concept is the same as just saying "Sit" or "Get Down" enough times after your desired behavior that the dog will pick up on the meaning. So your wrong... Feb 17, 2016 at 20:06
  • I've read about clicker training and am definitely going to go for it. I'll use chopped liver as treats as he's not keen on manufactured doggy treats. The issue I have is that he'll do a toilet whenever we let him out, so that's good, but doesn't have any aversion to doing it indoors either. He makes no attempt to get out, and will happily do it in doors if we've not let him out often enough.
    – i-CONICA
    Feb 18, 2016 at 9:35
  • @i-CONICA, look for signs when he is indoors that he is ready to go to the toilet. Sniffing the ground, turning around etc. Try not to feed him right before you go to bed as puppies need to toilet quite a lot. Crate training is another good idea at night as most dogs will not toilet where they sleep. clickertraining.com/housetraining Karen Pryor is the queen of clicker training. Feb 18, 2016 at 22:44

In my experience with our boston terrier puppy, we found clicker training to work really well. When she did what we were asking, we would click and immediately give her a super tiny piece of turkey. One slice of turkey would get us through about 30 minutes of training (she's small though, so you may need to use more). Since your dog doesn't seem to like treats, maybe try piece of a food they do like. Otherwise, you could use playtime, snuggles, or anything else they really enjoy as the "reward" that will be associated with the click.

We're huge fans of Zak George on YouTube. Here's his video on clicker training that we used to train ourselves to train our dog: https://youtu.be/HPDOrEEsAJ8

  • Did you use this for toilet training or training in general? Feb 17, 2016 at 20:42
  • That's useful actually. His raw meat diet is spoiling him, so he's not keen on doggy treats. I could chop up some liver to use, as he loves liver!
    – i-CONICA
    Feb 18, 2016 at 9:27
  • We used this method for potty pad training, outdoor potty training, and training in general. We would stand outside with her, and would basically corral her into the spot that would be her designated "potty area". Once she relieved herself in the right spot, she would earn a click and some turkey. If she escaped us and went potty anywhere else, we would move her midstream to the right spot, but no click. Also, be sure to use your words. We said "go potty" every time we put her in the potty spot. Now she goes on command.
    – becksy
    Feb 18, 2016 at 22:31

In my humble opinion you've already answered your own question by describing the manner in which you "treat" your dog...

"..., I then shout him in and praise him heavily. This gets him excited..."

You have already achieved the desired behaviour in your puppy without treats, so they're simply not required.

The greatest reward you can offer your dog is your love and positive praise, which are vital in reinforcing their sense of security and their acceptance into your pack.

We were taught that using treats is a temporary measure in pet training and that once you have your dog behaving as required, the treats are to be diminished and eventually stopped.

Don't misunderstand me, there will always be a place for treats. We still use them a lot. For example, our fifteen year old cattle-kelpie-x is given dried beef liver treats when we go out. It keeps him busy for a couple of minutes while we make our departure.

Regarding his peeing inside, I can describe what worked for us...

Attempt to predict the times when your puppy might need to pee. At these times take him outside and stand with him on a grassed area, attached to a leash if necessary. When he does pee, provide the same encouraging praise. He may not pee - don't worry - persist with the predictive pee breaks and only provide encouraging praise when he behaves as required.

In the case that you see him peeing inside, only when you catch him in the act, gently but firmly hold him, place one hand on his head and push his nose into the pee. Firmly vocalise that this behaviour is not acceptable with a strong "No" or "Bad dog", but say this only once per peeing incident. Then either send or carry the dog outside and leave him alone. Don't say a word to the dog for a period of time, ignore him completely, for at least fifteen minutes.

Being ignored is very painful for humans and dogs alike. Believe me the most problematic puppy will respond to this type of "punishment" very quickly and learn the behaviour needed to ensure they are not ignored.

  • Please do not punish a puppy for peeing indoors, and particularly not by shoving their nose into their pee. That is not an appropriate response to what is normal puppy development. It takes time for puppies to learn how to control their bladders, and how to respond to that feeling appropriately, and shaming or punishing them during that process is not helpful. Positive reinforcement has been shown repeatedly to be more effective tools for training. Ignoring a puppy or separating them for a time is effective when necessary, particularly to discourage attention seeking behavior, but not for this
    – Kevin
    Jun 23, 2020 at 18:53

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