Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Obedience,  All Articles

Motivating Factors

Dog have distinctly individual personalities, right? No different than people. Each has their own likes and dislikes. When it comes to rewarding and training your dog, food is often used as the biggest motivator. Yes, most dogs love food. But for some dogs, food is not a big deal. If that’s true, then how can you train and reward your dog? First, determine what motivates your dog the most. So many of the retrievers I work with are tennis ball obsessed. Ball playing time, therefore, presents the prefect training opportunity. Or maybe your dog prefers soft toys, rope tugs or chew toys like Kongs instead of balls. My first dog’s version of happiness was my dad’s socks. After dinner each night, as my dad sat in his easy chair, my dog pulled the socks off of his feet. She delighted at his shrieks when her little needle teeth chomped his toes. Yet another of my dogs loved winter gloves. She danced around with glee when she was able to pull them off of my hands. Another training opportunity! Dogs learn very quickly when you use the motivators that they prefer!

Your dog doesn’t play or isn’t motivated by food? Okay, that’s a challenge, but not impossible. Many dogs I meet will work for praise and/or affection. That “good dog!” means more to them than all the food or toys in the world.

I met a dog recently who loved to chase soap bubbles. It is the most fun game you can imagine for him. He would do anything for a chance to chase bubbles.

In reality, anything that your dog wants is a motivator. Does he want to go play in the yard? Does she like sleeping on the sofa next to you? Then use that time to do some training with your dog, with your dog’s own particular version of happiness.