Can you find that one reward? For a long time now, I’ve been using food to train dogs. Food is powerful when you’re using it to train. Something that I’ve been using lately is Hebrew National hotdogs and cheese sticks.
Yes, treats are good and dog kibbles are good. There are other things you can even do, like peanut butter. All of that is going to be great!
Different Types of Rewards
Unfortunately, you’re going to run into situations where you’re maybe out with your dog, training while using a treat or food pouch. All of a sudden there’s a distraction and your food absolutely does nothing at all. Maybe you have a training collar, a remote collar, or a prong collar, or maybe even a Martingale. Those are there to assist you with your dog to kind of snap out of it and not be so focused on that distraction.
I think all these tools are great, but I have found that with certain dogs we can find that one reward. That is maybe what I would consider a superordinate reward. The dog’s genetics are such that the moment that reward is in its presence, it can’t focus on anything but that.
My Own Experience
With my own dog, Gabby, when we play tug or if I have a ball with me, she becomes focused on it. All the distractions just begin to disappear.
This is what I would encourage all of you to do. Try to find that game that your dog loves. If you have a pure-bred dog, if you know the breeds that are in your dog, or if you know the work that they are known to do, then try to find the toy that mimics that. You will be able to take advantage of that in a way the creates focus.
I have the most experience with herding dogs. I know with herding dogs, they love to play tug and fetch things. Some are even natural retrievers.
So, you can really focus a dog by just teaching them how to play tug with you. This could in turn make all those distractions go away.
I worked with the client today who was really struggling with leaving their home to go for a walk with their dog. They probably only had to walk maybe two or three blocks to get to a park. As they walked to the park, their dog pulled hard on the training collar. The dog knew once they would get to the park, the ball would come out. Once the ball would come out, the dog would not pay attention to anything other than playing the game with the ball.
So, I started to teach my clients how to use the ball from the moment they stepped out of the house. Before they would get to the park, they would begin to show the dog the ball. The ball was available much sooner so the dog would just focus on them and stopped pulling. This way they can solve the problem of pulling and eliminate all the distractions.
It is in our best interest as dog owners and as dog trainers to help find out what type of reward scratches that itch for that dog.
Okay guys, I guess you’ve got a little bit of work to do. Go see if you can find that out today. Start trying to find that one reward that really gets your dog to focus on you better than anything else!
Good Luck and Happy Training!