Research indicates the most successful training for dogs incorporates a food or toy/play reward. Most dogs are food motivated but some would rather play with a tug toy or ball. Both can be positive rewards. The key is the reward needs to be “high value.” Something that will motivate your dog to do what you ask to get the reward. I believe dogs deserve to be rewarded for good behavior every day. Once the desired behavior is learned, rewarding your dog for a sit reinforces your dog’s willingness to sit when you ask him the next time. Do not reward every sit, but randomly to keep the behavior positively in place. Keep low calorie healthy treats available to access anytime your dog displays good behavior.
Pet Parent Question:
My dog is quite finicky about treats. Do you have any suggestions for a high value treat?
I have shared your experience. Once I brought a baked popover to an agility class because that is what motivated my dog at the time. Human food like cooked chicken, hotdogs, peanut butter and cheese are all good options for training. Watch your dog and if he/she indicates a preference for a particular food make note of that.
For everyday rewards, keep a bowl of treats available to share with your dog throughout the day. There are many low calorie healthy “dog” treats to pick from.
Donna Chicone is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and advocate for dogs. She lives in Woodbury. You might find her engaged in pet-assisted therapy work; superpetparent.com