The Petting of a Dog

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?

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.  It is important to understand how dogs learn, and what motivates them before deciding how to reward. A properly timed reward can boost your dog’s confidence, and increase his trust in you.

When using physical praise there are several different forms that can be used; and every dog has certain types of touching they prefer.  Find what works best for your dog and the situation.

·    The Stroke – A common movement where the flat of the hand glides down with slight pressure over the dogs body

·    The Circular Rub – Using the flat of the hand on the front of the chest

·    The Pat – A drumming of the dog with the flat of the hand to various degrees of intensity on the dog’s body.  Usually the best place to pat a dog is on its withers of side, and occasionally under the chest.  Never on top of the head.

·    The Scratch – Using the tips of your fingers under the chin, behind the ears, on the rear towards the tail, sometimes on the top of the head.  A two handed “massage” up and down the length of the body can help release tension.

·    The Grip – A kneading motion where the hand takes gentle grip of hair, loose skin, and sometimes even muscle tissue.  The shoulders, the chest, and even the base of the back respond to this movement.