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How Do You Reward a Dog Other Than Treats?

If you are a dog or cat owner, have you ever wondered what the best rewards are?

How do you reward a dog other than treats?

How to reward your dog. Which is the most effective way to reward our dogs. He who finds a friend finds a treasure. If the friend is an animal, the treasure is priceless because our friend’s cats and dogs keep us company and can improve our lives. So why not reward their affection and closeness with some harmless little vices?

A little extra care and pampering can only be an excellent way to return the love these unique creatures give us daily, with the caution that this ‘extra’ attention does not turn into unhealthy, uneducational and dangerous vices.

What Can I Use To Reward My Dog? Giving Something Extra

Which is the most effective way to reward our dogs. Thirty or forty years ago, dog trainers and pet parents (a term they would never have used themselves, favouring owners” or “masters” instead!) would rarely consider rewarding their dogs for behaviours they liked.

To give food, toys, or access to things the dog liked in return for a requested behaviour would have been very rare. These dogs were there to be dogs; whether for a job or companionship, they were often “broken” into performing the behaviours we wanted instead of nurtured into new patterns of behaviour.

Today, we know that positive reinforcement is the most effective way to reward our dogs, teach them new skills, and make them happy and more optimistic about the world in which they live and interact.

In addition to the daily and due care, such as water and food, cleanliness, companionship and the possibility of proper exercise, there are actions and activities that, although not as indispensable as the former, contribute to the physical and mental well-being of our four-legged friend then having positive effects on us as well.

After all, the well-being and serenity of a pet also have positive effects on pet owners, who can only benefit from knowing that their pet is cheerful, happy, healthy and satisfied.

What Does Our Dog Think?

But have you ever thought about how your dog feels about the specific rewards you provide? Rewards can come in many forms. Various food options, presenting a toy, playing with your dog, verbal praise, touch or real-life experiences (such as access to another dog or water) can all be rewards.

Have you ever considered how your dog feels about the rewards you give? Food-based rewards tend to be our most common go-to. They’re a primal resource; you have various tastes and textures to try, and they’re easy to present quickly during training sessions.

When a pet parent asks me how they should reward their dog, my answer is always: ‘It depends’. Not very helpful, I know, but the choice does depend on many factors. WHERE does the dog trainer live, and what is the environment in which the dog lives? What might work at home may not cut it when you’re outside. 

If, on the other hand, we talk about food or sweets, here too, the answer is: “It depends!” HOW is the food being presented? Is it straight from your hand? Are you throwing it or getting your dog to scratch for it? What does your dog enjoy? Some love fis,h and others can’t stand it. Some have allergies and might be put off by a protein source that might upset their tummy.

Are all rewards for dogs the same?
The best way to reward your dog is to choose something they will enjoy, which will help strengthen your bond with them.

Resting Together

A pampering certainly appreciated by dogs and cats is the possibility, for those who like it, to rest close to their human, sharing such an intimate and memorable moment with the person they trust most.

Even if not everyone agrees, allowing your pet to lie down next to you, on the sofa or in bed, or even just in the same room, is a gesture that can give a lot of comfort, love and a sense of protection and security to the animal, which, if it can, will always choose to sleep next to its human.

Physical contact during rest, even if limited to a short and limited time, such as in the evening while watching a film sitting comfortably on the sofa, is an opportunity for a mutual exchange of affection and attention, which is good for the soul of both.

It is well known, for example, that when a cat lies on its beloved master’s chest in a moment of relaxation, its purr communicates its affection and is therapeutic for both.

The particular sound that the feline emits can induce us into a state of great relaxation and serenity due to the uniformity and repetitiveness of the sound emitted, reducing the sense of worry and stress.

The purring would also seem to regularise heartbeats and blood pressure. Thus, this intimate moment of sharing springs a mutual well-being synonymous with relaxation and serenity.
The same applies to dogs, who often enjoy physical contact and love to fall asleep amidst their trusty friends ‘cuddles and scratches’.

Tasty Treats But With Caution.

How do I reward my dog for not begging?
There are many ways to reward a dog other than treats.

If rest time is one of the most eagerly awaited and enjoyed by animals, it is followed by feeding time, where our furry friends’ significant sweet tooth can be satisfied with an extra snack.

A healthy and balanced diet is the recipe for a strong and healthy dog or cat (maybe you might find it helpful; we have written an article on eight tips to improve your dog’s diet). Still, sometimes, a small reward thought out and agreed upon by the vet can be the proper reward in certain situations.

A dog that learns to obey its owner’s commands, a cat that knows it has to do its business in the litter box, or simply an animal that has behaved remarkably well on that day can be rewarded with a good morsel of extra food, which must be undoubtedly not upset its healthy, balanced diet.

These snacks, such as biscuits, sticks or bones, can be alternated with small pieces of fruit or vegetables, if they are appreciated, to avoid exceeding the daily calorie intake.

Therefore, a tasty break is an extra pampering for our animal friends that is certainly appreciated but should be reasoned out and planned so as not to run the risk of it becoming a harmful and unhealthy vice.

fellow trainer’s curiosity

A fellow trainer once told me that her response to clients who said, My dog isn’t food motivated“, was to ask, “Oh, are they dead?” That might be a bit extreme, but there’s some truth there. A dog with NO interest in food that won’t eat wouldn’t survive.

Suppose there’s no apparent underlying reason why a dog is picky regarding food, such as intolerance, poor gut or a sore jaw/teeth. In that case, we want to consider the other influences on our dogs carefully.

When our male dog companion was around six months old, he’d eat any treat presented to him at home. But if you stepped outside that front door, very little would spark his interest.

He had too much else going on: a secondary fear phase, raging hormones, being attacked by another dog, or having too much fun!

All of these influences meant he was in high arousal when outside. Our digestive system shuts down when we’re fuelled with adrenaline or cortisol (the stress hormone). So it needs something precious to think about re-starting. I remember he’d recall back to me on cue, take the piece of cheese I was offering and immediately spit it out.

At home. he could not get enough cheese! We worked through many different treats and found that, ultimately, the only food he’d reliably eat on a walk – and find valuable – was cooked turkey. Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find out what will work for your “non-food-motivated dog”.

It would help if you were ready to commit.

We need to think about food rewards on a sliding scale. Just as you may have “reward grades” depending on the difficulty of the task at hand. Ask your dog to “sit” or “come” from the garden at home, and they may find a little piece of fruit or veg rewarding enough.

Ask your dog to return from playing with a group of dogs it loves; then, you will have to give them a big bonus. This is where my SMALL, SOFT and STINKY rule comes into play.

  • SMALL: You can afford to reward your dog with a jackpot (multi-treat).
  • SOFT:  No chewing required; they get the “goods” quickly.
  • STINKY: Super is yummy and able to compete with environmental distractions.

You must be ready to use the game to reward your dog. For example, letting your dog pull the toy you hold for a second won’t excite your dog, but having fun for several minutes with you can be very rewarding!

What Can I Use To Reward My Dog? Toys Also Have Their Importance.

The positive attitudes of our pets can be rewarded with caresses and games, which are never lacking in the homes of pet owners. Buying our dog’s favourite ball or the mouse for our cat that he adores so much is another little vice that every pet owner stumbles upon at least once in his life.

The toy you use is essential, too. Is it something your dog would choose to pick up itself? Does it have a texture or smell they’d enjoy? We often choose toys based on what we think looks fun or perhaps has been recommended by another pet parent. Dogs are individuals. One dog may love a squeaky ball, another a tug toy, one might only like playing with you, and it might take a rabbit-skin toy to excite some of our dogs.

After all, it is not too different from a parent giving a gift to their child: it is a demonstration of affection and gratitude, which is certainly not indispensable, but which allows, in addition to returning the great love received, to provide a stimulus, a pastime and a moment of fun and distraction for their pet.

Thus, the beneficial effect is twofold: the animal will be entertained with satisfaction by the new game, and the owner will be assured that the animal will have fun and fight boredom, the only culprit of the disasters our four-legged friends often make. We also wrote an article on how to fight boredom in dogs, especially when left alone at home.

Trips And Travels

What can I use to reward my dog?
A trip to the park or dog beach. Dogs love to explore new places, so taking them to a new park or dog beach can be a great way to reward them.

Other small vices indicate increased external stimulation and enjoyment for the dog, thus producing dual satisfaction. These might include leading one’s pe,t if desired and in line with his personality, to designated spaces and places where he can meet other animals of his species. England has beautiful forests for you and your dog to visit.

One example is taking your dog, in addition to the usual daily walk, to a dog area, a park set up especially for them, where they can jump and run in the company of other dogs. Socialising is a necessity we all have, including our four-legged friends, who can benefit greatly from meeting other dogs.

Its welfare inevitably falls on us as well. So, a few little vices, be they healthy and harmless, can benefit us both, enriching the experience of sharing one’s life with a four-legged friend and making this experience unforgettable.

The need in these cases is to give our friend an excellent education, which allows sharing activities and spaces in harmony and serenity without running into restless and dangerous situations.

For those who wish to do so, similar experiences that increase our animals’ stimulation and interests are out-of-town trips or vacations. Here, the attractions are many, the exciting and new things multiply, and the opportunities to share several new experiences grow.

All this is done with proper care and thoughtfulness while respecting the animal’s temperament. Ultimately, it will be not only stimulating and beneficial for Fido but also for the owner himself, who will experience such situations with more extraordinary richness, that of the companionship and affection of his trusty friend.

Each animal is diverse and has its personality and interests, but grasping what he likes most and what makes him feel good can be exploited to increase his satisfaction.

Verbal praise is also correct.

How do you reward a dog for play?
Praise: Dogs love to hear their owners praise them, which can be a very effective reward. Use positive words and a happy tone when you praise your dog.

When we think about play as a reward, we also need to consider the energy we put into the game. Would over-enthusiasm send your dog too far into a state of arousal to be able to re-focus? On the other hand, could you overwhelm your more cautious dog if you go in too strong? Does speed, change of direction, anticipation or the environment they’re playing in affect what your dog enjoys?

What about verbal praise? You only have to speak their name for some dogs to get their whole body wagging! For others, your voice would do little to cut it in an environment of many other potential reinforcements. A more anxious dog might find a loud, excited human vocalisation quite scary. Studies have shown that how we use our tone AND the consistency of our words are very important in creating a “happy” response in our dogs.

The two must be combined to have the best result. Dog-directed speech (baby talk) is the most effective way to reinforce and encourage your dog. Using consistent words or phrases your dog becomes accustomed to allows them to understand the praise being presented better.

Real-life rewards can come in all shapes and sizes. For example, you could reward water-loving dogs with the opportunity to jump in a river! On the other hand, it might be the chance to say hi to a new human friend for people-loving dogs.

These rewards are often discussed in the Premack Principle of dog training, which states that a lower probability behaviour (a year dog doesn’t necessarily want to do) can be reinforced or encouraged by rewarding with a higher probability behaviour. An example of this principle in action is telling children that they must eat their vegetables if they want dessert.

What is the difference between a reward, a bribe and a lure?

We might ask our dog to return to us before they can go and say “hi” to the other dog. Or ask your dog to “sit” before a new human friend can say hello. The value of real-life rewards will depend on your dog’s breed and motivation.

For a working spaniel, being released to chase a bird (when you’re sure that bird is far enough away that it’s safe from harm or stress) could be a reinforcement for sitting calmly next to you. However, some pet parents worry that rewarding their dogs is “bribing” them to do things. Many feel that praise should be enough or that our dogs want to do what we ask them to please us. 

  • A REWARD is given in return for a service provided – our dogs have done the requested task or offered us a fantastic natural choice of behaviour.
  • A BRIBE is something used to try to influence behaviour. It’s a way to regain control of a situation without teaching new behaviours.
  • A LURE is a way to invite your dog to do something for you. It’s the basis of shaping your dog to learn new behaviours to help them understand something more quickly.

Use a lure if necessary.

While a LURE is removed later, replaced by your dog understanding the behaviour requested to earn a reward, a BRIBE tends to be used long term. It is more likely related to behaviours your dog finds aversive, such as getting into the bath.

Just as we gain motivation from being paid a salary, getting a bonus for excelling, or being praised for doing a good job, our dogs gain motivation through our reward system.

While you might not need to reward every sit, wait or recall for your dog’s entire life, when your dog doesn’t easily understand what’s expected or is struggling with learning something new, rewards can help boost learning and instil a lifelong understanding.

It’s a way to say we like the behaviour that our dog has presented and to thank them for doing a great job. So go ahead: Use plenty of rewards in training and life to support your dog in embracing the behaviours you desire.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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