When dog owners think of training, they often picture group classes, dedicated time to work in the living room or working with a private training coach. While all of these things ARE dog training, there are really easy training opportunities you can build into everyday life! Training is an ongoing process and extends beyond just formal “sessions.” Every minute you spend with your dog is reinforcing a behavior of some kind… If you reward your dog for every day things, you can see some major behavioral changes!
Why Does Rewarding Your Dog Change Behavior?
Learning and behavior modification for all animals comes down to operant conditioning. If a behavior is rewarded, the animal will perform the behavior more often. If an animal is not rewarded or is punished for a behavior (which we do NOT condone), that behavior will occur less frequently.
If you are are looking for them, there are SO many things your dog does naturally in a day that you can reward them for. A click from a clicker or a verbal “yes,” both followed by a small treat, can tell them you love the behavior they are offering. The technical term for this is capturing. By “capturing” the behavior you’d like to see and consistently, your dog will naturally begin to seek the reinforcement for that behavior… offering it more often!
How To Reward Your Dog
The easiest way to ensure you can always reward good behavior is to have positive reinforcers stationed strategically around your home. Does your dog like treats the best? Leave small containers in the kitchen, by the front door, in the office… everywhere! Would he prefer to chase a ball than eat a snack? Leave tennis balls hidden but accessible in the same spots.
When you see your dog doing something you like, you can click a clicker (if you’re carrying one) or give a verbal ‘Yes!” while the behavior is happening. Follow that with a treat, toy, or anything your dog finds rewarding and you’ve successfully reinforced that behavior!
Of course, rewarding your dog for sitting nicely to get his leash on one time is not going to change a habit that’s been instilled in him for years. While it will take time, your dog will eventually begin to learn what’s earning him treats or fun and will change his behavior slowly but surely!
40 Things You Can Reward Your Dog For
Not sure what to reward your dog for? The possibilities are endless! Here are just 40 things you can reward your dog for today.
- Sitting at the door when he needs to go out.
- Sitting to be leashed.
- Retrieving a ball.
- Coming when called.
- Not barking at passing dogs.
- Walking by your side.
- Walking on a loose leash.
- Going to the bathroom outside.
- Laying calmly next to you on the couch.
- Laying on their dog bed.
- Not barking when someone walks by the house.
- Chewing on an appropriate toy.
- Not rushing through the doorway.
- Dropping something when asked.
- Choosing to enter their crate without prompting.
- Entering their crate WITH prompting.
- Making eye contact with you.
- Waiting for your next cue.
- Not jumping on the counter when there’s something extra tasty up there!
- Keeping all of his paws on the ground when he’s excited.
- Approaching a new person politely.
- Waiting when the door is opened.
- Patiently waiting for you to open the crate door.
- Walking, not rushing, out of his crate.
- Waiting for your cue to eat dinner.
- Sniffing or walking toward a “scary” object (think vacuum!).
- Watching the cats in the house without chasing.
- Settling in the car.
- Allowing a visitor to pet them.
- Not begging at the table.
- Any behavior you find cute – a play bow is a great example!
- Playing gently with human siblings.
- Responding to a known cue.
- Taking a deep breath (eventually putting this on cue can help your dog relax… more on that in another blog!).
- Playing nicely on their own.
- Playing a game with you (find it, hide and seek, etc.)
- Taking their medicine.
- Having their paws touched.
- Allowing their ears to be handled.
- Staying behind you on the stairs.
Have more ideas? Drop them in the comments!
Don’t Know Where to Start? We Can Help.
The most important piece of being the best pet care team of dog walkers, trainers and pet sitters in the Greater Waterbury area is our dedication to our clients – both two-legged and four-legged. We are constantly tweaking, learning and improving based on your needs and feedback. Our team is fully dedicated to providing you with an outstanding customer experience and your pets with the safest, most compassionate care possible. This is what sets us apart more than anything we can do in the office!
To learn how RCO Pet Care can help you with your dog walking, dog training and pet sitting needs check out our services, contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428. If you’re outside of our service area we’re happy to help you find a reputable, professional pet care provider. We’ve got your tail!