Best Dog Training Motivators: Food, Toys, & Praise!

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts

The best dog training tactic to use with your puppy or adult dog is positive reinforcement and motivation. Once your dog begins to understand that he will be rewarded for obedience and good behavior, he will instinctively want to please you to earn praise or another treat.

The key to the best dog training is understanding what motivates your dog.
Dogs are motivated by one of three things:

  1. Food
  2. Toys
  3. Praise

Train with Food
The best dog training method to begin with at home is to motivate your dog with food so that he responds and obeys your commands. Training with the food/reward method will take less time than training your dog with punishment. Even better, training your dog with a reward like food will positively motivate him instead of making him constantly afraid of getting reprimanded.

The best dog training example to use in this scenario is house training. Most dogs can creatively find dozens of places in the home to eliminate without your knowledge. This means that there is potential for your dog to make an infinite number of house training mistakes, requiring you to correct him again and again. How exhausting!

But once you have designated a specific area in your yard for your dog to use the toilet, you can reward him with food each time that he eliminates there successfully. All you must do is show your dog where you would like him to eliminate and reward him with food for the action.

This same basic reward principle can be applied to a number of other behavioral issues, like barking, digging, or chewing. When you teach your dog to chew on a chew toy instead of furniture, reward him with food for doing so. When you teach your dog to wait to bark until he is commanded, reward him for his obedience.

Instead of punishing your dog for bad behavior, rewarding him with food for obeying a command is one of the best dog training tactics to use to receive quick results.

Train with Toys

Some dogs absolutely love to play, much more so than getting a treat. If this is your dog, then you are very lucky because training becomes much easier. You don’t have to carry treats around and you can always play a game of tug for rewards.

Train with Praise

The best training tip to remember when training your dog with praise is to only give praise when it is earned. If you constantly lavish your dog with praise and attention, then he will no longer appreciate it.

Praise can be two things, either verbal praise like “Good boy!!!” or physical praise like stroking the dog’s fur.

When your dog obeys you or completes a trick, praise him verbally in a lively, happy voice. Get down on his level and praise him immediately so that he understands that he has done something good. Your dog will learn that his good behavior earns praise and will naturally want to repeat the behavior to please you.

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  • Jen says:

    Motivators are an interesting thing to think about and discuss! Especially since some of them are situational, have different values, etc. I will say, Elka loves praise, but she’d really rather have your sandwich!

  • TLC K9 Academy says:

    I found that training my dog with all of these three were the best resulting. It gave her a very positive experience and results were great. Highly recommend these ides for dog training.

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