When you are training your dog, you need to keep them motivated and, most importantly, interested in what you are trying to teach them. This is where high value rewards come into play when implementing positive reinforcement. A dog performs a positive behaviour and is rewarded with a treat for doing so.
Each dog is different and will have a different idea of what a high value reward is. If you are having trouble finding a reward that keeps your dog engaged. Reach out to a professional and they should be able to help you in the right direction. Below we will discuss the most common high value rewards used in dog training and how to effectively use them.
A high value reward can be anything that your dog finds “very valuable”. This is most often a form of food. However, it can take on other forms.
In most cases, this is the best high value reward there is. Often it is some type of meat however there are other types of high value food rewards. When setting your proportions, make sure to keep them on the smaller size so your dog does not have to take much time to consume the reward. This will allow training to continue unhindered and keep your dog engaged. Below we list a few great options.
You may not believe it but not all dogs are food motivated. In these cases, a toy can be used. You must ensure to only bring the toy out during training sessions. The toy cannot be always available as they will lose their status as high value.
What do you do when food and toy-based rewards do not work? You use praise through verbal means or through tactile stimulation such as pets, scratches and/or rubs. Unfortunately, this can be rather difficult as you will need to use the specific praise you choose sparingly so it stays effective in your training.
When you are in the training stages of your dog’s life (hint: it never ends), you should make sure to not use high value rewards unless your dog has performed a desirable action or behaviour. Do not slip your dog some human food off the table, do not give them a bite of hot dog at a friend’s barbeque and don’t let them play with their high value toy because they are full of energy, and you need a break. Again, only reward them during training sessions or after they have performed an expected action following a command or series of expected actions
You need to eventually start phasing out the high value reward in training so that you can use the command at any time and the expected behaviour will follow a command. As you phase out, you’ll want to only provide a reward every so often. Perhaps every third time. Then you’ll want to start doing it irregularly so that your dog always believes there is a chance they will receive a reward.
At ITK9 we tailor every program to the specific dog completing it. We do tend to work with high value food rewards such as pieces of meat in our training however we can work with your dog to ensure the best reward is used for him/her. Contact us today for help with your obedience training.