10 ways to reward your dog
1 Pay your pup
It may sound obvious but always reward your dog when they performs an action you want.. Once you’ve established a behaviour, such as not jumping up at you in greeting, or sitting promptly when asked to, you may begin to take it for granted. Rewarding them helps to keep them motivated, and without it, their responses start to become unenthusiastic or even absent. Rewards come in lots of different forms; observe your dog and what things they likes best to help you decide which will be the most effective. For most, food and toys top the list, followed by praise and touch. Timing is crucial. Reward them as soon as possible after they performed an action you want so that they makes an association between the two.
2 Puppy Perfect
The reward has to be tailored to the effort of the action your dog has accomplished, using the lowest value one for behaviours that are well established and when there are little or no distractions. When learning anything new, or in challenging situations, the reward your dog receives will need to be more motivating, and selecting the right one is important to encourage him to want to repeat that action again. Having a variety of different ways in which you can reward your dog makes it easier for you to select the right incentive, and will also ensure that you can always use a reward that is appropriate to the surroundings you’re in. Grade food, toys and games according to their level of desirability. The best rewards may be cooked sausage, a ball game or their favourite squeaky toy Always carry a selection of treats around with you so you can decide how much you wish to reward your dog. Do not hand out the high value treats all the time or it will devalue them, save them for new training exercises of when they show a huge effort, such as coming to you while asked after running to see what is going on with the new dogs playing ball at the other side of the park.
3 Say cheese
If a dog is feeling full after a meal, they are less likely to appreciate a safe treat reward. It is best to do training before a meal; you could even use some of the meal as part of the training reward. When you are using a treat bag, ensure you have a great supply of the best treats ready whenever you need one. Offer very small pieces of food so they are quick and easy to swallow, allowing you to get on and your dog doesn’t get too full. Do not forget to include these treats in the daily allowance or they will pile on the pounds. Try dried liver, carrots and cheese amongst other treats to keep the treats varied, but always ensure they are healthy for your dog, do not use treats that are bad for them just because they love them!
Toys can be a greater training aid that treats for some dogs. Rewarding with a quick game can make an exciting alternative to food. As with treats, keep alternating between toys, tugger toys, squeaky toys, balls, teddies, find out their favourite toy and only bring out when a huge reward is needed.
5 A good pet
The power of touch is immense when it comes to letting them know you are happy with their actions. Gently scratching them with your fingertips is often a favourite. Patting can be too aggressive for some dogs.
6 Sounds good!
Your voice can be very motivational for your dog. Ensure you sound excited, using a higher pitch than normal, do not sound monotone and dull or they will find it boring. Do not be too loud though, most dogs have amazing hearing and they may interpret it as threatening or dangerous.
7 Go play
As long as your dog has basic recall or you are in a safe and secure place, letting your dog go off to play can also be a great reward and a way in which you can make training exercises work even better for you, try and ask for a ‘sit’ or ‘watch ’ before unclipping their lead when out on a walk. Practicing calling them back, rewarding them, then allowed to go and have fun can be really helpful with recall training. Add more fun by joining a friend with a social dog and letting them have a play together. As long as they are socialised from a young age, most dogs are naturally very social, with a great desire to become part of a pack.
8 Doggy Paddle
As with playing, long as your dog has basic recall and you are in a safe area to swim, many dogs love a good swim. You can even buy floats to throw into the water for them to fetch back. The water itself can be a treat, especially on a hot day.
9 Not like that, like this
Ensure you reward only the behaviours you like and want to repeat. Attention is a huge reward for most dogs, which you often give them for free when they do something you are displeased with to get your attention. An example being if they destroy something in your house while you are out, on your return, you shout at them, they are getting attention, all be it bad. If they jump up at you and you put them down, they may see this as a game and want to repeat the game. In these instances, you need to seek a positive behaviour to reward, such as going to their bed or lying down and then reward that behaviour rather than unintentionally rewarding the one you do not want.
10 Hitting the Jackpot
Think of a fruit machine, you keep paying to see what reward you get, each time hoping for the jackpot. When teaching anything new, reward with an appropriate level of treat. Once your dog’s got the hang of it however, appeal to the inner gambler in them by starting to vary the reward. Will it be a treat, your favourite treat, your favourite game, a tickle behind the ear? Keeping it random and keeping them guessing can help you sustain their interest, and can get them to try harder than if they knows what’s coming, the jackpot should be sudden and startling, for a ball lover it can be the distance you throw the ball, the gamer, the length of game you play, the food lover, the value they see in the treat (quality NOT quantity) mix all these together and you have an amazing casino effect, with your dog crying for more!