There are not many people I know who would do their 9 - 5 job for something other than a paycheck. Congratulations if you'd do what you do just out of love and self satisfaction. It's true that our dogs give us unconditional love and often the "work" we ask them to do is seen through canine eyes more as "play". That does not mean that the learning process they go through to learn how to do everything from how to be a good companion to tracking down missing persons is done by a dog purely out of love for the task or for some innate need for doggie self fulfillment. Like us, they need to earn for all that they learn. The trick is to look beyond the treats. So much is written about using food to train your dog, but consider that not every single food, let alone toy or game is the cat’s meow for every single dog. Clients are advised in the beginning of training preparation to brainstorm a list of rewards with their dog's preference in mind. Three categories need to be looked at including types of treats, toys and activities.
Rate your rewards
It is not just a matter of “what works” for your dog, but what works where. I encourage owners to complete their brainstorming list with one last step – rate your dog’s reward. Not every reward works everywhere and in every situation.
“C” value is a reward that is effective in your everyday home situation. This may be just using your dog’s kibble for training or using his favorite toy for a game of play to entertain him while you have guests in your home.
“B” value is a reward that would keep your dog’s attention among mild distractions inside and outside the home. If you have something novel (such as a new baby) in your home, or perhaps you have new neighbors (and a new neighbor dog) barking through your common fence, you’ll find amping up recognition to help training to click in these more stressful situations.
“A” value is a reward that works to keep your dog’s focus in the most distracting places. Visiting new places, car rides, time spent in your vet clinic’s lobby are all times when bringing your A Game will help your dog cope and maybe even enjoy some more demanding situations.
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