How 4 things will change the way you approach how you motivate a dog to learn

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Encouragement, Motivation and Willingness to Learn

By Dog Blogger, Autumn

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, in order for a dog to learn, he has to want to learn.  In most cases, all dogs can be motivated and encouraged to learn; however, it is up to you, their owner, to discover what will motivate your particular dog.

To make it easier for you I’ve listed what I think is important to take into consideration when deciding on what type of reward (or motivation) to use with your dog:

  • Personality

    Is the dog outgoing, shy, fearful, or aggressive? Each type of personality will need different types and amounts of reward.  The manner, frequency, and intensity of reward will vary based on the personality as well.

  • Temperament

    How much energy does your dog have? Does your dog have any natural drives or abilities? The reward you use needs to appeal to your dog.  Chasing a ball may not be much of a reward to a Mastiff with lower energy; just as a couple of pats on the head may not motivate a high energy Labrador retriever.

  • Breed

    Knowing your dog’s breed history and what it was originally bred for can help determine the type of reward needed.

  • What is the task being taught?

    Are you trying to develop hunting or herding skills? Are you teaching basic obedience, or retrieval?  The reward should fit the task.  Allowing your dog to shake or “kill” and object may not be best suited to obedience, but may make sense for a hunting dog.


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