Are There Canine Coaching Rewards Different Than Meals?

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Your pup loves performing obedience cues for yummy treats.

However you wonder if you’re giving too many and if there are different canine coaching rewards aside from meals. Sure! There are!

On this weblog put up, I’ll describe what different methods you should utilize to reward your canine when coaching.

And every canine’s a person so what motivates one canine won’t encourage one other. 

However you understand your canine. And you may strive alternative ways to reward him and see what works one of the best.

Why Ought to You Strive To Use Rewards Different Than Meals?

For many wholesome canine, meals is a really highly effective motivator. So once you reward your canine with a deal with after he sits, he’ll sit the subsequent time, anticipating one other.

Through the use of rewards aside from meals, you develop into extra vital to the canine. 

In most of the rewards aside from meals that I talk about under, akin to taking part in along with your canine, you develop into a central a part of his reward. You develop into enjoyable!

There are lots of causes to part treats out and to make use of different reinforcers typically. These embrace:

To Make sure that Your Canine Doesn’t Develop into Obese

The Affiliation for Pet Weight problems Prevention estimated in 2022 that about 59 % of canine have been chubby. 

That’s a daunting estimate, as being chubby or overweight can tremendously have an effect on the standard of your canine’s life. And his life expectancy. 

It’s simple arithmetic: feeding too many treats or these with too many energy will result in your pup being chubby. 

Fortunately, there are various different methods to reward him.

Your Canine Could Not Be Meals-Motivated–or Be Motivated Extra in Alternate Methods

I do know this sounds unusual. However some canine aren’t as motivated by treats as others. 

Some breeds, like labs, pugs, and beagles will normally inhale any deal with introduced. However some herding canine, working canine, and terriers might not be as food-driven.

Though my Aussie combine Millie loves good treats, she finds taking part in fetch far more rewarding. So, if there’s a possibility to play, she ignores a deal with altogether. 

Once I’m coaching her and she will safely run after her favourite ball, I’ll have her do varied behaviors–sit, down, stand, spin, converse, dance, or contact–earlier than I throw the ball. Right here’s a video of Millie performing these behaviors for a ball:

She’s ecstatic simply chasing and retrieving her Kong ball. Even when I provide her a deal with, she ignores it and would reasonably play.

You Could Have Brought on Meals To Be a Adverse

Inadvertently, you could have brought on your canine to have a unfavourable expertise with treats. 

This may happen when a deal with is given and one thing unfavourable happens afterward, akin to a nail trim or tub. 

Within the canine’s view, meals then predicts one thing scary occurring.

You Would possibly Not All the time Be Carrying a Deal with

Should you rely on all the time rewarding a canine with meals, you would want to all the time carry it. And there shall be instances once you received’t have a yummy sufficient deal with on you to your pup to be rewarded. 

However there’ll all the time be one other sort of reward, which I talk about under, which you could give your canine.

A Canine Can Develop into Too Depending on Treats

A canine might develop into so depending on treats that he received’t take heed to you should you don’t have any.

Treats Are Costly

Meals rewards that canine love are sometimes expensive–particularly if that’s all you utilize to reward your pup.

The Canine Could Not Be Hungry

In case your pup isn’t hungry–akin to after he’s eaten a meal–a meals deal with might not be attractive or efficient to reward him.

The Canine Would possibly Be In poor health

If a canine’s not feeling properly, a meals deal with might not be interesting.

The Canine Could Not Just like the Deal with You Present

Typically treats aren’t imposing to a canine as a result of the deal with isn’t as high-value because it could possibly be. So use a high-value meat, cheese, or fish deal with.

When Ought to You Give Rewards Different Than Treats?

After a canine reliably performs a habits–even with regular distractions–you should utilize different sorts of rewards too. 

Simply make certain that you don’t go from all treats (or rewards) to none or most canine shall be completely unmotivated. 

  • Random Deal with Reinforcement Schedule. First, go to a random reinforcement schedule the place you give treats much less and fewer ceaselessly. So in case your canine sits everytime you use the “sit” cue, have him sit the primary time with out a deal with. Then ask him to take a seat once more and provides a deal with. Fluctuate when he will get the deal with. Typically give him the deal with the primary time he sits. Then on the third time. You get the concept.
  • Numerous Non-Deal with Rewards. You’ll be able to reward with issues and actions that your canine enjoys aside from treats. For many canine, I counsel nonetheless utilizing treats randomly sometimes. However, should you reward your canine with one thing he enjoys aside from meals, his behaviors will nonetheless stay sturdy. Simply uncover what motivates your pup. 

At any time when going to a random reinforcement schedule, reward much less and fewer ceaselessly. However don’t cease all rewards or your canine will cease working. 

You wish to make it possible for he reliably maintains the habits. 

For instance, in case your canine sits reliably even with distractions on walks, you can begin randomly rewarding him with treats. And you can begin to part in different sorts of rewards. 

So that you may give a deal with the primary time he sits. Then reward him the third. 

And what your canine finds to be extra rewarding will change in several conditions. If he’s in a playful temper, after all play shall be a really highly effective motivator. 

Let’s talk about the numerous different methods you may reward him.

Rewards Different Than Meals

There are such a lot of methods to reward our canine that we do with out even realizing it. So let’s talk about a few of them.


Does your canine ever paw you or bark at you for consideration? Most canine like to get consideration from their pet dad and mom. 

Consideration can imply many issues. Right here I’m simply referring to your pup in a pleasant method.

The Pet Mum or dad’s Constructive Physique Language

Canines are nice at studying our physique language. So when you have optimistic physique language and aren’t tense, your canine will learn that you simply’re happy with him. 

This may even embrace a smile the place a canine is used to seeing you smile once you’re glad.

Touching and Petting

Many canine love a scratch below the chin or a pet alongside the aspect of his face. Some love tummy rubs. 

Be taught what your canine likes. Then that may be one among his many rewards.

Being a touch-feely golden retriever, Riley loves to be petted. 

And he’s not shy about letting somebody know. He’ll put his massive, blocky head in your knee should you neglect. So petting is a good reward for him.

Riley Soliciting Petting

Riley Soliciting Petting

Nonetheless, my Lhasa Ralphie doesn’t like to be petted–particularly by strangers. 

Though he’s good with dealing with and can tolerate it, it’s simply not his favourite factor. So I don’t pet him as one among his rewards. However he loves reward.

Ralphie sitting for praise

Ralphie sitting for reward

However I be aware that not all canine love being touched. Or they won’t like being petted in a sure approach. 

Many canine study to simply accept being petted on the highest of the pinnacle (in any case, it’s what many individuals do), however many don’t prefer it. In order that sort of petting normally shouldn’t be used to strengthen a desired habits. 

Should you’ve had your canine some time, you most likely know what sort of petting he likes–and what he doesn’t. 

Should you’re unsure, search for the next indicators that he’s uncomfortable and careworn:

  • Freezing
  • Lip licking
  • Whale eye (the place the whites of the eyes present)
  • Drooling
  • Yawning
  • Ducking his head


Once I’m coaching, I pair a verbal marker (“sure”) with a deal with. However, as I part treats down, I’ll typically simply use the verbal marker as a reward.


Many canine like my Aussie combine Millie like to play–usually greater than meals rewards. So play is usually a very highly effective motivator.

Millie waiting for her reward ball for spinning, lying down, and sitting on cue 

Millie ready for her reward ball for spinning, mendacity down, and sitting on cue 

I do know many individuals who, when coaching their canine, will intersperse the coaching with tugging on a toy or fetching. 

Once I prepare my golden Riley, I play tug as a reward after he performs a habits like sit/keep or come. 

I’d launch him from the keep, then wave the lengthy tender toy round and inform to tug. He additionally has a “give” cue when he releases the toy. 

Or when he involves me, the toy seems and we play tug.

Doing this typically truly improved his impulse management. It’s like an on-off change from the tug to the keep. 

And the interplay will enhance your bond. And Riley actually seems ahead to coaching. Let the video games start!

Life Rewards

There are lots of methods we reward our canine that contain every-day actions that they like. 

So when you have your canine sit by the door earlier than going for a stroll, he sees the stroll as his reward (assuming he likes walks). 

Once I take my golden Riley for a automobile journey, which he loves as a result of he is aware of we’re going someplace enjoyable, I’ve him sit earlier than he will get within the van. 

He routinely sits even with out a cue now. He’s anticipating his reward of going to the pet retailer or canine class. 

Riley loves actions and, being a golden, can’t wait to come across extra individuals to pet him and provides him much-deserved consideration.

Life rewards can embrace many occasions, together with:

  • Going outdoors and taking part in
  • Going for a stroll
  • Enjoying in a sprinkler
  • Happening a sniffari
  • Freedom of motion

So there are various ways in which you should utilize life rewards in on a regular basis conditions. 

In case your canine is actually enthusiastic about going outdoors for a stroll or to play in a yard, have him sit/keep first. Then, you may inform him to exit in your cue. 

The reward is his freedom to roam or to go on a stroll with you. 

Earlier than I am going out to play with my canine within the yard, I’ve them sit typically. Their reward goes out to smell and play. 

Should you’re on a stroll and your pup is pulling to achieve one thing, you may cease strolling. 

When he stops pulling and settles, stroll once more and cease if he begins pulling once more. You’ll be able to reward him every time he stops pulling. 

One other sort of life reward you may give typically for not pulling is to stroll rapidly forward to what he was making an attempt to achieve, akin to a tree. 

Solely do that when it’s secure and applicable to take action. Don’t let him rush as much as different individuals or animals.

How To Use Life Rewards

I’ve given some examples of the right way to use rewards aside from treats. Let’s delve into the topic in additional depth.

Every canine’s a person. When you utilize non-food rewards is determined by your particular person canine. 

This is determined by how far your canine is alongside in his coaching. And it’s important to use non-food motivators that he enjoys.

Earlier than going to non-food rewards, I’ve discovered it greatest to go to a random deal with schedule. So after he is aware of a habits on cue akin to “sit,” for instance give him treats randomly:

  • Say “sit,” reward and provides a deal with and launch him from the sit
  • Say “sit” once more and simply reward when he sits (then launch)
  • The third time, say “sit,” and say nothing after he sits (then launch)
  • On the fourth time, after he sits on cue, give a deal with, then launch him

Over time, begin phasing treats out increasingly more. Don’t do it too rapidly, or your canine will develop into demotivated.

You discover I’ve used reward as a part of his reinforcement.

When including different non-food reinforcers, first make it possible for your canine reliably performs the habits earlier than switching to a non-food-based reward. 

So in case your canine will sit every time you say “sit,” even with distractions on a stroll, you can begin to part in different rewards. 

For instance, you are able to do the next to reward your canine for sitting on cue:

  • The primary time, reward him when he sits (and launch)
  • For the second sit, pet the aspect of his face (and launch)
  • For the third sit, say nothing (and launch)
  • For the fourth sit, give him a deal with (then launch)
  • For the fifth time, say nothing earlier than releasing him
  • For the sixth sit, launch him to tug or fetch a favourite toy

As soon as you discover non-food reinforcers that your canine values as a lot as meals, you may wean treats down (slowly) even additional.

My sheltie Gracie loves sure video games we play. I’ve made it a sport to nostril goal to my hand. 

So once we’re heeling, I’ll typically cue her to “contact” my palm that’s a few foot above her head. She’ll contact, then return into heeling. 

It’s cute as a result of she’s so perky and prances whereas she’s heeling. It’s a enjoyable sport for her. 

And it’s a reinforcer I can use any time as a result of it doesn’t require a deal with.

You should utilize these non-food rewards to strengthen many behaviors, together with methods. 

So use them for consideration, sit, down, keep, shake fingers, depart it, come, unfastened leash strolling–and extra. 

The sky’s the restrict! You simply need to make certain that the exercise or merchandise you utilize instead of meals is actually valued by your canine.


My canine’s gaining an excessive amount of weight due to all of the coaching treats I give her. What can I do?

Begin weaning down the treats slowly and use different reinforcers, together with reward and play.

My canine likes to fetch. How can I exploit this in coaching? 

You’ll be able to first part deal with rewards down, then give your canine a habits cue like “sit.” Launch him to fetch his favourite toy earlier than telling him to take a seat once more.

My canine loves consideration from me. Can this be used to have him sit?

Sure! You should utilize him and reward as reinforcers for his behaviors. 

Ultimate Ideas

There are lots of methods to reward your canine aside from meals. Simply uncover what your canine loves. Then you may reward him for good habits with that exercise or merchandise.

Do you utilize rewards aside from meals when coaching your canine? Inform us about it within the feedback part under.

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Are There Dog Training Rewards Other Than Food? - dog playing with ball

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