Value of rewards.
When training our dog, we often overlook what our dog finds valuable. We assume the treats that the pet store attendant suggested are the best thing since slice bread. Only to find out when we go home and offer one to our pup, they turn their nose and walk away. Or maybe you’ve trained at home for x,y,and z behaviors with said treat and decided you wanted to move your training to the local park. Much to your dismay your dog has lost interest in this reward and would rather explore what’s behind the bush.
When you and your dog are in the teaching phase and we are learning to work as a team, we must keep our pup interested in us with something they desire. For example, I will use cheese to get a dog’s attention for the first couple sessions and then integrate kibble as my dog grasps that the task is with me not so much for the food itself. I treat food as an extra bonus for working with me and depending on the difficulty of the lesson I will change the food up accordingly based on what my dog finds valuable. Another example is with my dog, Fonce. Fonce will work for kibble and truly believe that it IS the best thing ever. Now say we do a session out in public; I will use kibble mixed with a higher value food for her. In her case she loves hotdogs. I’ll use this mix as a way to jackpot her and randomly reward her while completing more challenging tasks with me.
Now I know some of you are wondering what if my dog doesn’t like food. If this is case, again we must find what’s valuable to your dog. Rewards can be in the form of giving attention, giving food, playing, or allowing them to have freedom. So, this is what you need to do to see what your dog finds valuable, take a moment and actually watch your dog.
Do they come engage with you and want to be petted? Or would they rather sniff around? What about bringing a toy? Or do they always beg when you’re eating something? Answer some of these questions and you’ll quickly find out what your dog likes with literally no effort on your end. Use what you have observed to your advantage and create motivation within your pup in a way they desire, not only adding value to a task, but creating value to work with you.