Are you new to dog parenting and dog training? Then it’s time for you to learn more about positive reinforcement. Even those of us who have been pet parents for years can find new ways to reward our dogs for good behavior.
Dog training grounded on positive reinforcement uses rewards for desired good behavior. Since rewards make dogs more likely to repeat certain actions, positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for shaping their behavior.
Rewards come in various forms. It’s up to you to choose which one your dog likes best.
1. Reward him his favorite treats or food
Food is the primary positive reinforcer used in dog training. Some pet parents just use kibble, while others go for the best treats on the market. There are some great training treats available too. The best ones are very tiny so as to not add too many calories to your dog’s diet. This is our favorite training treat.
Find the best type of food that motivates your fur baby. You can even make homemade alternatives to store bought treats.
2. Never underestimate the power of physical affection
Petting or gently stroking your pet is another great way in which you can let him know you’re pleased with him. This powerful reward must happen immediately after he follows the command, or else he may not associate it with that action.
3. Praise for your dog
Since our pets don’t speak English, actual words wouldn’t have an effect on them. The pitch of your voice and your body language are the keys to a good pet parent-dog relationship. Pitch your voice a bit higher when praising your dog. Do it with so much love and enthusiasm that he knows that you are happy with his training performance.
4. Find a new, unique toy that he will love
Toys can be just as motivating as food. Head to the store and find a few nice toys that you can use specifically for training sessions. Hide them inside a drawer when not using them as rewards. This way, your pet will find them exciting each time they show up.
5. Outdoor playtime with you
Once you’re done with another successful training session, you can extend playtime outdoors as a reward. Not all of us have a yard, but if you have space, use it for rewarding interactive outdoor games. Play fetch, hide and seek or just chase each other around. So fun!
6. Allow him to play freely in the yard
Allow your dog to freely play in the yard after a training session. Most dogs love spending time in the great outdoors, and backyards offer the best space for their favorite activities. Not to mention there’s sunshine and fresh air.
Just be sure to stay with your dog to discourage predators.
7. Head to the park right away after the training session
Walks are not commonly seen as rewards, but freedom in all forms can be highly motivating for dogs. Just like us, dogs love to interact and play in new, fun environments. Head to the park, and before you allow him to play off-leash (if you are at a dog park and there’s a section for small dogs), ask him to follow a certain command.
8. Freedom to interact with other people
If you have some friends or family members coming over, why not set a short training session with your dog before they arrive? Afterward, you can reward your fur baby by giving him the freedom to greet the visitors. Different dogs have different personalities and behavior, though, most especially with strangers. Only allow him to greet them when you’re sure that he’ll demonstrate polite behavior.
9. Permission to sniff, please!
For dogs, there is nothing more exciting than exploring new scents. It’s their primary way of learning more about the world they live in. Think like a dog to make your dog happy. Whether it’s a small piece of garbage, your new shoes, or any other item, your dog will surely love to smell it.
10. Allow him to jump on the couch and cuddle with you
This is an amazing reward that is not just beneficial for your dog, but for you, too! Cuddling can have multiple positive psychological effects for both you and your best friend. Make it a part of your training sessions. Don’t let your pet jump on the bed or couch with you whenever he wants. Instead, teach him to respond to a command first. It’s like asking for permission to do awesome, comfy things!
Rewards help you develop a stronger bond with your dog. For your dog to be the perfect family companion, you need to shape his personality, and positive dog training can help you achieve this. Since there are rewards involved, he will look forward to every training session and will want to try new things. Not only that, as you go through training sessions day after day, your pet will learn to trust you even more and your relationship will become so much stronger and happier!
Can you think of any other special things you do to reward your dog? Leave a comment and let us know!