Updated: Oct 24, 2019
What motivates your dog? This may vary over time and context just as it may for you. What does your dog love most in life? We find, once you know that, you can greatly improve the success of training your dog. For almost all dogs, we find that the motivators fall into three main categories; Eat, Play, and Love. All dogs need to eat. Most dogs are food motivated, though some considerably more than others, depending on the food. If you have chocolate for me I am going to be more motivated by that then, say, Brussels sprouts. Treats tend to be easy for us humans to use in training as it is easy to dispense a yummy treat. The higher value the treat, typically, the more the dog will be motivated to learn. For those dogs who love Play, throwing a ball or frisbee, or a rousing game of tug as a reward for learning or training can be a considerable motivator. Finally, for those dogs who just want to please and get a serious case of the “wiggle-butts” when you say “Good Boy!” can be rewarded with Love every time they do something positive.
There are many other motivators out there that we can use on a daily basis to train our dogs, such as sniffs, greeting people and dogs, or going for a walk. Can you think of others?