Doing a Job Without Being Paid
Do you struggle with your dog? Does your dog brush you off with every command that you ask them to do? Are you having trouble when you ask them to come to you or to stay? Well, you’re not alone, this is a very common issue. People always ask why doesn’t my dog listen to me? No matter what I do my dog does something else. All of these dog owners have no clue what is going on. But the answer is very simple, you are not paying your dog.
Paying my dog? What do you mean by that? It is very simple – after your dog does a command or a task, they need to know that they did something good or something that they will work for. Obviously money does not mean anything to dogs. So what is money in dog terms? There are three basic reward systems that you can use to build a better relationship with your dog.
For us to understand this the best way to think of it is this example. We all go to work and we get paid afterwards, whether it is every week or every two weeks. We are doing a job and a reward as humans is money. Now to extend this example, when we do a really good job we get bonuses. A bonus is extra money given at the end of the year for doing excellent work, or if we do the job really well we get promoted, which is another form of receiving an award.
We do all these of things to reward employees but when it comes to dogs we forget that they need rewards too. What can happen if they are not rewarded is the opposite reaction. So if you have a dog and you don’t reward them for the good behavior they will show more bad behavior and get attention for that behavior. So in other words, they are getting rewarded for that behavior more than for good behavior.
The following are rewards that you can use to promote good behavior or teach your behavior/command:
Food is one of the top rewards that you can use on any dog. It is very useful in teaching puppies new behavior, but it can teach any dog good behavior if they have what is called the food drive. Food drive is a term that means that the dog is willing to do a task or behavior for that piece of food. Every dog is different. Some dogs will have more food drive than others or sometimes you have to develop a food drive. A simple way of doing that is only feeding your dog when you are working them, in other words when you are teaching them a new obedience command or behavior. You will start with using food all of the time to teach that new command or behavior and then fade away the food. After the dog has been trained you can still use the food to make them work and that will strengthen your leadership with your dog. Lastly, food does not work on every dog, especially dogs that are insecure. If the dog is insecure, in some situations that dog will not take any food. In that case, the best strategy is to go to is praise.
Toy is the second best reward because all dogs like to play. As mentioned before every dog is different
and some dogs will have more toy drive than food drive. The definition of toy drive is the willingness to learn or do a command/behavior for the chance to play with the toy. Then there are also dogs that are willing to do both: work for food and toy. Many sports dogs and working dogs are trained on both.
Safety tip on toys: I highly recommend a ball with a rope than without. Many dogs have choked on balls that get stuck in the throat.
PRAISE – PHYSICAL/VERBAL
The praise reward can be used anytime and anywhere. So if you don’t have food and you don’t have toys with you, you can give them a “GOOD BOY!” or pet them. Many dogs love the rubdown, so if the dog does what you asked them to do, make them feel good by rubbing them down. This reward can be done after food and toy. This is an especially good reward for dogs that are insecure and will not take food or play with toys.
Please keep in mind if you don’t give them any good rewards and you yell at them every time they do something bad, they will do more bad stuff to get the attention that they are looking for.
All of the rewards up to this point are physical items (except for the verbal). But sometimes you can use an item or a willingness to do something as a reward. For example, when I am training a new dog not to run out the door when it opens, their desire reward is to go outside. They do not get that reward until they wait for the door to open and I release them to go out. So to review that example again, going outside is the reward.
Unconventional items can also be used as a reward. I have seen a trainer use a balloon as a reward. It all comes down to what the dog desires to do as a behavior.