Tricks for Treats: How to Keep Your Dog Motivated

Everyone wants a quiet, obedient dog. Every dog wants to be loved and cared for by his or her owner. So how do we, as owners, communicate what we want from our furry friends? PACT will take owners through the important tools you should use to motivate and reinforce your dog’s training, helping him to be the best he can be!

Think of your pup’s favorite treat – the one that gets him bouncing around the living room in excitement. That’s the first type of motivator dog trainers suggest when training a dog: food. Food is an extremely powerful motivator for many dogs. PACT recommends foods that are easy to carry around with you, and foods that can be easily broken into small pieces. You don’t want your dog to fill up on these treats, as that will dampen his motivation to do as you ask. You should also check with your vet to make sure that your dog is at a healthy weight before choosing food as your motivator. Treats such as raw carrots/veggies, broken up dog biscuits, dog sausages, and raw beef can be powerful motivators for your dog when training.

If your dog is a little overweight or otherwise not motivated by food, you can also try motivating him with his favorite toy. Some dogs like rope toys, some love squeaky balls, and others have a favorite stuffed animal. Find your dog’s favorite toy and use that as the motivator during training. The reward for a job well done is a play session with the toy, engaging the dog in excitement and play.

If all else fails, praise, praise, praise! Sometimes, the simplest motivator is a verbal “good job, good boy” to your dog.   Verbal affirmations and physical affection when a dog is performing a good behavior or completing a command help reaffirm training and positive behaviors.

No matter what motivator works best for your dog, make sure that you’re working with him every day to reinforce training and good behavior. Remember, no dog can read your mind, and it’s up to the owner to teach a dog to be the best he can be!