Get Your Dog Excited to Train

How do you keep your dog excited about working? By rewarding them for doing well! Rewards are the most important part of training dogs. So here are a couple ideas to get you thinking about different types of rewards.

1.  Food. A lot of dogs are motivated to work for food. If your dog is motivated by food, some great options for training would be toys that involve food. A Tug N Treat or a Toss N Treat might be great options.

2.  Attention or Verbal Praise.  Many dogs enjoy getting loved on during their training sessions. It helps your bond between each other grow and build your relationship.

3.  Toys.  Playing with toys is a great reward that can get dogs really excited and motivated. The key is finding the toy that your dog loves.

No matter what rewards motivate your dog, the most important thing to remember is to reward often.

Variable Rewards

A very important concept in training is the variable reward.  Dogs often get bored with our rewards, especially when we use the same rewards over and over again.  Variable rewards keep your dog motivated to train, because he never knows what kind of response he is going to get.

A great illustration of variable reward is seen in the comparison of a soda machine and slot machine.  If you use the same rewards constantly, you are about as exciting as a soda machine.  Soda machines are not exciting.  You know exactly what to expect, so you only go to one when you want what it has to offer. However when you vary your rewards you are way more exciting. Variable reward is what makes slot machines so addicting to many people; you never know what you’re going to get or how much.

To use variable rewards with your dog, switch up the rewards and how much you reward.  You can vary your rewards by using different types of food and different types of toys.  Switching between different toys like tugging verses fetching is great because they are different actions.  For more variety, reward your dog with different scents (like buffalo rabbit, or sheep) and different textures (like nylon, fleece, or fur).   You can find a large variety of toys at our website:

Your dog will tell you what he finds the most exciting.  When you use variable rewards, your dog will not know what he is going to get and will be more focused on you during training.


A clicker can be one of the strongest tools in dog training. The click anchors the behavior in the dog’s head as being correct and tells the dog that a reward is coming. It clearly shows the dog exactly what he did right, at the exact moment he did it.

Teaching your dog what the click means is super simple!  Get your dog, some treats, and your trusty clicker; start by clicking once and giving your dog a treat immediately after the click, and then repeat that process over and over again. The more you do this, the more the dog will understand that the sound of the clicker means treats are coming.

The main rule to remember with clicker training is to always click and treat!  Once your dog knows that a click means reward, you can change things up by playing tug, throwing a ball, or using different types of treats as the reward.  Just remember that there must always be a reward after the click.

Walk the Walk

When teaching your dog to walk at your side while on the leash, speed up your pace until you’re matching your dogs walking speed. It’s easier to teach the dog to walk nicely if you match his natural walking pace. Asking your dog to walk slowly and to learn good leash skills at the same time is difficult for your dog.
It’s difficult to keep up with a large dog, or one with a lot of pent up energy, so some vigorous play before leash walking may help. After your dog has spent some of his pent up energy he should be able to walk more comfortably at a slower pace.

Over time your dog will learn to enjoy being at your side, but until your dog is ready to match your pace, keeping up as best you can will make learning good leash skills as easy as possible.

You don’t need any special equipment to make you walk faster, but some things can help. Get some lively music for your ipod to keep your pace up. Or get a bell or a fancy new leash to remind you that walking quickly is good for both of you. You may enjoy this  leash and perhaps it’ll help you to think about being a winner in your dogs eyes


Give rewards as quickly as possible when training your dog. Timing the delivery of rewards to arrive at the exact same moment as the behavior your training will help your dog to understand what you want.

We can’t expect perfect delivery timing because our human responses aren’t as quick as our dogs. It takes a moment for us to react and deliver rewards, but quickness will aid our training results.

Dogs refocus their attention very quickly and associate events based on their immediate impressions. Your precise timing, and speedy delivery will help him to understand your reward is connected to the desired behavior.

When training your dog to do behaviors that aren’t performed within easy reach, use toys that can be thrown for play rewards or use clicker training which uses a sound marker to indicate correct performance.

Praise Your Dog!

You can’t praise too much or too vigorously for correct behavior. Praise and reward will communicate to your dog that they are performing correctly.

Without praise or reward your dog has no clear communication that his behavior pleases you.  When your dog is uncertain what behavior you want, it’s likely that his performance will start to erode.

Dog’s perform more slowly when they are uncertain. For maximum performance, reward and praise often.

Fading Food Rewards

When fading food rewards, be careful not to reduce them too quickly. Your dog may become de-motivated if there is a sudden reduction in the amount of rewards you offer for correct performance.

Try using play games to bridge the gap when you begin fading food rewards. Play a game of tug with an exciting toy as reward When fading food rewards, be careful not to reduce them too quickly. Your dog may become de-motivated if there is a sudden reduction in the amount of rewards you offer for correct performance.

Tug is Good!

Studies have now proven that playing tug games with dogs will not cause a dog to be aggressive. This common misconception has survived in our culture for a long time.   Playing tug is a natural game, and dogs play it for fun. That’s why tug games are so effective for training.
If your dog has a dominate personality, playing tug can actually reinforce your pack leader status, here’s how.

1. End the game on your terms and before the dog is ready to quit.

2. Keep possession of the toy when the game is over.

3. Don’t let the dog win possession of the toy every time. Exhibit your control and strength.

Following these rules will let your dog see that you control the toy and the game. If your dog is a strong tugger get a toy that has a handle like the Tuff E Nuff tug or two handles like the 2 Handled Fur Force Toy, which will help you hang onto and control the toy.

See the Tuff E Nuff tug at: More


Get Excited About Training!

Stimulate your dog to work faster or harder by occasionally offering higher value rewards for good performance.

Dogs can become bored with their treats, so try switching them out for real chicken or cheese.

If you’re training with toys, try an exciting new buffalo fur toy, or a fleece tug toy.

If your dog is stimulated by having other dogs around, try training with a friend and their dog. If your dog doesn’t like training, keep sessions short and reward after word with their dinner, going for a walk or playing fetch.