Rewards in Dog Training
Types of Rewards
Dogs trained using rewards were found to be the most efficient method to facilitate the dogs learning potential. Rooney NJ Cowan S (2011). Not all rewards for success in learning and doing a great job are food, although being a primary reinforcer and basic need; it is a good reward for dog training. A study by Fukuzawa M and Hayashi N (2013) found that the reward of ‘food’ was the most efficient, as a reward when training a dog, particularly in the initial training. As the dogs progressed with training that task the efficiency of food, play, or tactile petting as a reward were similar.
The stage of learning, the context, location and what distractions are around will influence your reward choice too. Your dog as an individual will have preferences to what motivates it.
Food rewards should be pea sized. Food is best taken from your dog’s daily ration. Some of your dogs kibble can be used, but also use more tasty and smelly choices too to keep your dog motivated.
Play using a special toy with you. Police or customs working dogs are often rewarded with a quick ball game for finding the required item.
Praise in a jolly voice but also use other rewards too sometimes.
There may be other things that reward your dog. For example after a ‘sit’ command the reward may be to be allowed out the car or door. Dogs enjoy different activities as an individual, some are favoured more than others and these could be used as a reward too. For example; after a success in dog training a reward may be sniffing, or a chance to swim or play in water.
References Fukuzawa M and Hayashi N (2013) Comparison of 3 different reinforcements of learning in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour. Elsevier. Available from;www.sciencedirect.com
Rooney NJ Cowan S ( 2011)Training Methods and owner=dog interactions : Links with dog behaviour and learning ability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science Vol 132 issues 3-4 July 2011