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’ and ‘B’ Treats

Some trainers use an interesting ‘A’ and ‘B’ treats method when training with food rewards.

The ‘B’ treats are the regular treats that are used for most of the rewards. The “A” treats are a higher value reward, like real chicken or cheese.

The “A” treats are reserved for especially good performance. This allows the trainer to reward all acceptable performance, yet still reserving some special treats for perfect execution.

Being able to reward the dog for all good performances yet keeping the dog hoping for the higher value reward is a good way to enhance performance and build drive.