Dogs (and pretty much every other animal) require motivation to keep up their good work! But this doesn’t mean you always have to have treats on you.
You can use “life rewards” to replace food rewards as a way to keep your dog motivated even when food isn’t present! Toys, tug, freedom, attention, anything your dog likes and wants in that moment can work.
Here are some examples of life rewards:
- When your dog sees a dog or human friend he wants to greet, call him to come, then reward him by letting him go say hello!
- Cue your dog to sit, then unclip his leash or open door for him to run free! (Where appropriate!)
- With a toy in your hand, ask your dog to “drop it” and then throw it or tug with it when he does!
- Ask your dog to lie down, then put his food dish down and release him to eat!
Remember that you need to have possession or control over the thing he wants in order to ask him to do something. (Otherwise it’s like asking for more work when he’s already got his paycheck.)
How often do I need to reward?
Often enough that your dog doesn’t slack on the job! Make lots of deposits (where he’s rewarded well) so it’s okay to make withdrawals sometimes (where he only gets praise). If you take away too many paychecks, you’ll see his behaviors deteriorate. (Just like if your boss only paid you in compliments.)
Make working for “life rewards” a part of everyday life for best results!