Do you know how to reward your dog?

A properly timed reward can boost your dog’s confidence, and increase his trust in you

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

Reward is an integral part of training, and there are many ways in which a dog can be rewarded.  While food or treats may seem like the easiest way to reward your dog for good behavior, it may not always be the best or most effective way.  Food can have limitations as a reward.  Does the dog like the food?  Does he like it enough to do what you are asking?  Will he do the same task without food?  What about dogs that are not food motivated?

There are many types of rewards that can be given to a dog for a job well done.  Again, it is important to reward appropriately for the task you are teaching, and to use something that really motivates your dog.  While food is a requirement for all creatures, it may not be the best reward you can give your dog.  If your dog is working for food, you may find that his motivation is gone just as soon as the treat is.  Food can be a good way to introduce and encourage desired behaviors, but as your dog leaves the puppy stage it is important to use a form of reward that can help develop a bond between dog and owner. Rewarding your dog without the use of food can often be a much easier, convenient, and effective way to instill, capture, and encourage desired behavior.

Rewards can take the form of:

  • Food

    Can be useful for puppies or even trick training, but should not be relied upon for serious obedience or advanced training

  • Praise

    Both verbal and physical – great for teaching obedience commands and general good behavior

  • Play

    Chasing a ball or retrieving an object – great for retrieval hunting, or dogs with high retrieval drive

  • Hunting

    Finding hidden objects – can be very rewarding for dogs that love to use their nose (hunting, tracking)

  • “Killing” or Shaking

    Can be used for hunting dogs, or where a high prey drive is being established

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