So why is reward dog training the way to go? It is really simple: if you are the most rewarding thing in your dog’s life, they will choose you every time! Not only is that exactly what most owners want from their dogs. Using anything but positive reinforcement or reward dog training is a welfare issue. It shows a lack of understanding of what motivates a dog and what doesn’t motivate a dog. There have been numerous scientific studies that haven proven again and again that punishment increases anxiety and the likelihood that your dog will resort to aggressive behaviours. Don’t believe me, check out some of the science here.
So, how do you become the most rewarding thing in your dog’s life? Well, it starts simply by building a relationship that is built on trust and positive interactions. Like any relationship, this takes time and consistency. It means shifting your focus and looking for all the things you like about their behaviour. Then all the things you don’t like should be seen as opportunities to learn alternative ways.
One game that I love to play which is good for you and your dog, is to count out 30 treats in the morning. Your goal is to hand them out before their dinner that night. It just starts to gently shift your focus and is also particularly great for those that may have an anxious dog, as often your focus quickly becomes about their triggers. This can bring back the joy in your relationship.
So what are dogs motivated by? Again, what science has proven is that they have the thinking capacity similar to an 18 month old child. So let’s forget all that dominance garbage as that definitely has not been scientifically proven. Dogs are motivated by what feels good or doesn’t feel good. So if you make them feel good 100% of the time you are off to a great start. Of course, like any relationship this takes ongoing commitment and if you need help we are here to cheer you both on.