You may be wondering, ‘Why should I use rewards to get my dog to do what I want him to do?’ Think of it like you going to work. When you go to work, you offer a skill or service of some form, right? You expect to get paid in return for this action at work, yes? Now then, your dog needs rewards, too! Rewards maintain behaviors just like your pay check maintains you continuing to go to work.
Let’s say you reward your dog for coming when called. If you do not reward them then they’ll quickly learn that it’s not fun to come when called. However, if rewarded with food, toys or a release to go play again then they’ll be much more likely to come the next time you call them to come! Make those rewards random and they work even better!
Start out rewarding every correct response to a new cue. Once they understand what you expect then wean them down to random rewards. Changing the type of rewards from food to toys to life rewards! What are life rewards?
Life rewards are anything your dog enjoys in life! Some dogs may enjoy sniffing for squirrels while others like to go swimming or meet other dogs. Let your dog be the judge of which activities are rewarding for him!
Those rewards pay off by reinforcing the behaviors we like and want more of! This is two-fold because it also means you’ll see less of the bad behavior he was performing before. He can’t do a good behavior and a bad one at the same time, right?! So, yes! Reward you dog for laying quietly while you are eating. Reward him for greeting other dogs nicely. Reward him for looking back at you on your walks! Get creative and your dog will keep their focus on you, wondering which good behavior will get them their next great reward!