Rewarding Your Dog
You can train a dog without treats. But you can’t train a dog without knowing what makes her willing to do what you ask.
Honey is easy. A morsel of turkey hot dog, a piece of cheese, or even a sliver of apple are a terrific reward for walking by my side, staying in one spot, or waiting to cross the street. If they’re not available, a quick game of tug or fetch with a stick found on the ground works too.
But we have a new canine houseguest. What motivates Miss Chérie?
Getting to Know You
Chérie is a foster pup from the Tompkins County SPCA. We’re charged with building her confidence. And, if I can teach her one or two good behaviors to take to her permanent home, I’d be thrilled.
But Chérie isn’t Honey. She can’t eat a tidbit while she’s walking by my side. And while she’s happy to eat a stinky peanut butter treat, it doesn’t drive her to do something she wouldn’t do anyway.
Chérie likes toys. I think she’ll blossom into a tugging champion and award-winning destuffer in her new home. But toys don’t motivate her in a training situation.
But I’ve figured out what rocks Chérie’s world. And it makes her a trainer’s dream.
Just Love Me
Chérie wants nothing more than attention and affection. I was worried that by jumping up on the exercise pen we’re using to keep her from playing with Honey, Chérie might injure her surgical wound. So every time she jumped up, I turned my back on her. She’s been four-on-the floor for two days now. Good girl!
Honey has a great recall. We’ve been using liverwurst and chicken breast to reinforce it lately.
But Chérie will come with a little coaxing and the promise of scratchies under her chin.
And although I’ve been told to keep Chérie from playing roughly for the week following her spaying, she’s dying to jump and wrestle with Honey. What could I ever do that’s more satisfying than playing bitey face with a playful Golden Retriever?
How about cuddling on the couch?
If the pups stop wrestling when I ask them, Honey gets a yummy and Chérie sits on my lap for ten minutes of massage.
I’m amazed that it’s working. I still keep them separated by a physical barrier when my attention is split. But I’m able to give them more and more free time together.
I hope I’m able to meet Chérie’s adoptive family. Because I know a secret.
She won’t sit for cheese. Or walk by your side for a bite of hot dog. But if you caress her ears or rub her under her chin, she’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.
What motivates your dog? How long did it take you to find the key?