Help your dog like other rewards

Dogs, who don't enjoy the toss of a ball or a squeaky toy, can begin to have fun with these rewards if you will take the time to teach them.

The more varied the rewards your dog enjoys the less repetitive they will be and the more motivated your dog will be to learn and be rewarded. Here is the way to get your food-loving dog interested in non-food rewards:

  • Hold your dog on a leash and tease him with a toy.
  • Throw the toy out of range then ignore his struggle toward it, but don't let him get it.
  • Use a helper to make the toy more exciting if necessary.
  • Wait patiently until the dog looks away from the toy and back at you.
  • Mark that moment with a click and allow him to play with the toy as a reward.
  • Back up slowly to increase the distance between the dog and the toy if he doesn't turn his head away from the toy and back toward you in about thirty seconds. Click and release him to get the toy when your dog looks back at you.
  • Repeat this with different toys and allow your dog to go play with the helper every once in a while.
  • Keep the play part of the reward brief, about five to ten seconds.

You can also begin your training sessions in this way, letting him know that it's time to learn.

To have an effective program you must have rewards that are motivating and interesting to your dog. If your dog isn't crazy about the reward then find something that he enjoys more. If your dog has lots of toys try rotating them so that he doesn't become bored with the same ones all the time. But remember if your dog doesn't like toys or doesn't become interested in them that there are plenty of good snack treats, which will keep your dog happily learning for years to come.

Reward or bribe?

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