Rewarding your dog is OK……..Really!!!!

Positive training uses a reward based system for training.   Many naysayers contend that the use of “rewards” during training teaches a dog to only respond if there is a reward involved.  They consider this “bribery”.  Realistically we have to dispel the myth that dogs live to please mankind . No matter how much we want to believe this, it is just not the case.  Dogs live to please themselves. “What’s in it for me?” is their mantra.  The sooner that we accept this, the easier it is to move on and provide wonderful “paychecks” whenever our dogs do something that we like!

Keep in mind that every dog has a different reward system.  Food usually works with most dogs, but don’t forget about affection, belly rubs, walks, access to outdoors, access to toys and wonderful interactive time with their favorite human. The difference in rewarding a dog and bribing a dog has a lot to do with timing.  It is important that you reward your dog “after” he has performed the requested behavior.  The reward appears after he has “worked” for it, not before.  It is also imperative that once your dog understands the cue and behavior being requested, you begin to change the ratio at which you reward.  Once your dog “sits” regularly, there is no need to reward every time with food.  He could be rewarded the 1st time with a treat,  the next time with an excited “good boy” from you, and the next time with a game of tug o war.  In other words, your dog knows that something great will happen, it is just a matter of “what”.


1. Use very small portions when rewarding with food. You can also use some of Fido’s food throughout the day as a reward so
that he/she doesn’t gain too much weight!

2. Make a list of anything that your dog likes…..each dog is different.  Anything that your dog likes can be used as a reward.

3. Constantly keep your dog guessing with what you will offer.  Sometimes you have great things and sometimes
smaller rewards.  He never knows what is coming his way….but it comes from you, the owner, and it is always good!