Dogs are very simple and practical creatures. This does not, however, mean that they are dumb or stupid. When you begin to work with your dog on a training plan it is smart to establish a reward system that works for both the dog and your family. It is important to pay attention to what your dog enjoys and use that to your benefit. This may sound selfish at first, but when you think about it the human mind works very much in the same manner. Even humans at an early age begin to understand positive reinforcement and will associate positive effects as a result of good actions.
Many people find food or a treat to be a great rewarding system for most dogs. When your dog does something that you like reward them with a treat immediately so that they will begin to associate that good action with a good reward. This can be beneficial in potty training, socialization, and obedience training. If you are not sure about what sort of treat to use, browse your local pet store to see what they have to offer. Your dog may also have preferences on a type of food treat they enjoy and contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are absolute food mongers. Some dogs are picky or finicky. If your dog has medical issues or allergies then perhaps a home made treat or tiny pieces or chopped hot dog will work for them. It is also important to know that you must not over treat your dog when using food as a reward. Over treating can lead to health issues such as appetite inbalance, irregular bowel movements, obesity, and many others. When using food as a reward system it is generally wise to work with your dog for maybe an hour or less if obedience training.
Some dog owners are not a fan of using food as a reward system. Did you know that simply petting or praising your dog can also be a huge reward for them? If you are teaching your dog to sit and they do as you instruct, make a big deal out of it! It may seem silly or ridiculous to throw a little party or do a happy song and dance routine everytime your dog performs a good action, but for some dogs this really goes a long way. Toys are also commonly used for those who do not reward with food. Just about every dog has a favorite toy. Find out which one it is and use this knowledge to your advantage. Tossing the toy to the dog as a reward after they perform a command can be great for positive reinforcement conditioning in your pet.
If you are not sure what you would like to use as a reward system, analyze your dog’s personality and really think about what would be best for you to use in the long run. Some people feel that their dogs become food dependant in the future and have difficulty trying to get their dogs to respond unless they have a food treat. This is why it can be wise to use many reward methods. One day you can work with food, another you can work with attention rewarding, and on another day perhaps you can use toys. There are many possibilities in training your dog, and with the right rewarding system the sky is the limit!