When it comes to positive reinforcement, nothing does the trick quite like dog treats. So it’s no surprise that your cupboard is likely wholly stocked with dog training treats. A yummy snack holds a whole lot of power, but…what if you don’t have any treats nearby? Or what if your dog isn’t the type to be motivated by food?
Thankfully, in terms of rewards, dog treats are not the end-all-be-all for our furry pals. If anything, the best dog handlers out there actually use a lot of different “creative rewards” which help dogs to stay driven, responsive, motivated and work-ready.
Why Reward Dogs With Something Other Than Food?
While there’s no doubting how crucial dog training treats are, it’s just impossible to consistently have them in one’s pocket at all times. Heck, sometimes there are no pockets to be had in the first place! Yes, food rewards are important especially as a foundation. However, as basic lessons are absorbed by the dog, it’s necessary to wean treat usage gradually.
Basically, treats can still be used so that good behavior can be marked, but at less frequency than before.
When a dog makes good choices, recognizing them is necessary. Hand-in-hand with that is how crucial it is to reward your dog for good behavior. Rewarding your dog with a nonfood alternative can help him stay motivated.
It’s important to take your dog’s personality and likes into consideration at this point. Aside from food, what would your dog actually think of as rewarding? Yes, the dog world can provide a general list of universal favorites, but your pup will have very particular desires and wants.
A round of fetch with your dog if he or she is ball-driven, for example, probably rates among the best rewards, but it doesn’t do much for a fetch-indifferent dog. The things that get your dog’s heart racing and make leaps of happiness happen are the best dog rewards.
Introducing Nonfood Rewards in Training
Creative rewards can be used to reinforce good behavior during dog training or to reinforce good behavior outside of training. Like the classic means by way of dog treats, it’s key to reserve your most creative rewards for instances when you’ve had a successful interaction with your dog. For example, after a successful recall or a stretch of polite leash-walking, offer a treat.
Creative Nonfood Rewards
Some of the top ideas in terms of creative rewards that aren’t foods are as follows:
- Petting – Using petting as a reward for a challenging recall at the end of a training session? You might discover that your dog is not as excited by it as he normally is. Check for feedback when touch is the reward you opt to use.
- Praise – Compliment your dog for going to the bathroom outside! Creative sentences when your dog does something good can be surprisingly difficult, so use that as a reward!
- Toys – When giving your dog a toy, you should make sure it is a type that he or she likes most. Rope toys, plush dog toys, and fetch toys will go a long way.
When it comes to training dogs, treats are the first thing that come to mind. In truth, there are several things that can be used aside from food. This includes toys, petting and praise.
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