I enjoy getting paid for my work (although I enjoy it so much that sometimes I can’t believe I get paid for it…especially during puppy class!). I have spent many hours reading, training, coaching, and learning to get where I am. There are times I offer help for free when asked. But generally, there is payment involved.
This makes me wonder… Why is it so difficult for some people to be willing to “pay” their dogs when they behave well? Sure, “payment” can come in many forms (throw the ball, tug the toy, give attention, etc.). But what is wrong with payment that comes in the form of a tiny piece of chicken, a mini-treat, a piece of jerky or a whole juicy meatball? When working with dogs I provide “pay” equivalent to the “labour” and the “location”. At home a cheerio or a piece of kibble is often suitable. Working on something new…I pull out the cheese. Walking in the forest and when my Luna turns away from a tempting, teasing squirrel because I asked her — I pull out the jerky. When she ignores the strange dog that’s barking and lunging at us across the street — then “it’s raining meatballs”!
I think a fellow Karen Pryor Academy trainer, Sarah Owings, is on to something when she offers that it might be the actual word “treat”. For people, treats are usually something sweet, or fattening, or expensive. Something that you might feel guilty or indulgent about. For dogs, treats are simply food — one of the key components to any predators survival.
With that in mind I asked Sarah if I could share her recent blog on this topic. So take 5 minutes, grab a coffee and enjoy Sarah’s blog. Better yet, make it a Caramel Macchiato — and don’t you dare feel guilty about it — you worked for it!
And BTW, next time you head out with your dog, put poop bags in one pocket and treats in the other — reward any behaviour you like — and enjoy how both you and your dog reap the benefits.
At Smart Paws, we use positive reinforcement training techniques to teach you and your dog the skills needed for a happy, co-operative life together.