Dogs are active creatures in general – remaining sedentary and gaining weight won’t benefit neither their physical nor their mental health. Many dog species are having a hard time during summer, even if they’re completely in shape. Now, while you won’t really have trouble taking Fido out for a walk (on the contrary), dog training is a completely different business – if a dog doesn’t have a reason to do something, the owner will have to try extra hard in order to motivate their best friend. Here are some tips with regard to motivating your dog for training.
Know the motivators
Motivation sources greatly vary from dog to dog, even if they do have similar temperaments; some consider food the greatest reward there is, while some dogs consider toys a better motivator. On the other hand, if your dog finds fun motivating, dog training is going to be a complete breeze – these dogs are naturals.
Of course, even motivation can be excessive; some motivators can be simply too much. For example, if your dog is highly motivated by a frisbee disc, it won’t be able to focus on what you’re asking it to do.
On the other hand, an “excessive motivator” can work wonders when Fido gets bored of being trained with food, for example.
The key is to observe your pet and experiment with various motivators in order to notice what draws its attention the most, what does so the least and everything in between – learning to use every type of motivator on your dog is a key factor in successful training.
Always use rewards to motivate your dog
Without a doubt, the best way to boost your dog’s motivation is by rewarding it, but it doesn’t have to be with food or toys. In the beginning, learning a new behavior will be a lot of hard work for your dog – it might feel a bit confused until it figures out what you want it to do. Always keep in mind that you’re teaching your dog to think in order to remember what the correct behavior is.
Once your pet has mastered the command, you can start reducing the rewards, until you’ve gotten to the “good boy/girl” and “thank you”, or even a simple smile.
It is important to keep in mind that, no matter how small, there should always be a reward for your dog’s good behavior.
Never use avoidance as motivation
Using the method of avoiding punishment as motivation can be really effective; popping the leash, yelling, poking your dog in the neck by a prong or hurting it with a zap of shock collar will teach your dog whatever you want in a matter of days and even hours. But should you use this method of motivation? Absolutely not! In addition to being completely unethical, this method of punishment will damage your relationship with your dog (and if you don’t care about this, you do not deserve a pet) – the more fear and pain you inflict upon it, the less it will trust you. This method of motivation can cause fear and anxiety and manifest itself in nervous behavior due to excess stress hormones in the body; this could involve lashing out, fear, aggression and OCD-like problems.
It is absolutely vital that you never even try this form of motivation – dog owners that use avoidance do not deserve friends, let alone pets.
How to use the motivators
You may think that rewarding your dog is easy, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Essentially, you will probably need to use more than one motivator. In the beginning, we suggest that you start with dog treats; get them at a quality pet food vendor such as Net to Pet. Order your dog to “sit”. It will take a while, so you should bring the treat in front of the dog and pull it away once it goes for it. Point your finger to the ground and say “sit” loudly and clearly. It may take a while, but your dog will get the gist at some point. Repeat this three times.
No more than an hour later, bring your dog’s favorite toy to another part of your home and repeat the outlined process – you should do this more than three times.
The next day, repeat the sequence again, but this time, reward your dog with an enthusiastic phrase, like “thank you” or “good boy”, and/or a petting session. Also, when training your dog, be mindful of your surroundings and avoid training in forbidden areas.
Dog training is a science of its own and the best way to learn how to properly inspire your dog to be good is practice (for you, too). Keep in mind that the rewarding system is the only proper way to motivate your pet and never, ever use avoidance of punishment in your dog training!
Guest Post By: Diana Smith