How to Use and Choose Effective Rewards to Train Your Puppy or Dog

How to Use and Choose Effective Rewards to Train Your Puppy or Dog

In the last few years there have been many books published on how to train your puppy or dog. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, but all of them are not very useful at all. So I thought it would be interesting if we could come up with our own list of effective rewards for your puppy or dog.

I am going to start off with the most basic ones: food and water. These two things will keep your pup or dog satisfied and happy while they learn new skills. You may think that these are too simple, but then again, so were the first things you learned when you started learning how to ride a bike!

The next thing that comes to mind is toys. Toys are fun, but they do not teach anything except obedience. They are great for teaching your dog to sit and stay down, but they don’t teach much else besides those two tricks. If you want to get something out of your puppy’s mouth other than “sit” and “stay”, you need another kind of reward.

What about praise?

Praise is great! It’s free, it’s fun to do, and your dog will love every minute of it! If you’re looking for a reward that’s easy to give and that your puppy or dog will go crazy over, then look no further than praise.

When all is said and done, if you don’t know what else to get, then I suggest you get a mix of all four. With food, toys, praise and treats, you’re sure to be set for a long time. Now that you know what to get, let’s talk about how to get your dog to love them.

How to Make Your Dog Love Their Toys, Food, and Other Things

Toys are easy. To make sure your dog loves his/her toys, just play with them! Most of you are probably doing this already so no big deal.

What about the other things?

Does your dog like food?

Of course he does!

But how much does he like it? Does he like it just because it tastes good, or does he like it just because it’s food?

If you’ve been feeding your dog the same food every day for the last few years then your dog probably likes the food but doesn’t CRAVE it. If this is the case, then you need to do something about it. Try mixing up his food with different flavors. If you’re using a commercial food try mixing in some canned food. If you’re using canned food, try mixing in some dry food. If you’re using both, then mix in some table scraps!

Mix it up and see if your dog likes it.

What do you have to lose?

If your dog doesn’t like the new flavor then go back to what you were doing before. However, if your dog does like it, then you’re one step closer to having a dog that loves his food.

After playing with his toys and giving him different food flavors, how do you get your dog to really love his toys and food?

The best way is to give him LOTS of it! Play with his toys with him until he’s tired, then feed him LOTS of yummy food, then after he eats, give him more toys until he goes to sleep. This may take a few days of doing this every day, but after a while your dog will learn to love his toys and food because he gets to play with them A LOT! If you choose to do this, then be prepared to spend a little extra on his food bills. (But it’s worth it!)

I hope that what I’ve told you here will help you get your dog to love his toys and food. If you have any questions about this, or about anything else, then please feel free to .

Happy Training!

Sources & references used in this article:

Before & After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, & Well-behaved Dog by I Dunbar – 2004 –

Key considerations for the experimental training and evaluation of cancer odour detection dogs: lessons learnt from a double-blind, controlled trial of prostate … by KR Elliker, BA Sommerville, DM Broom, DE Neal… – BMC urology, 2014 – Springer

Combining manual feedback with subsequent MDP reward signals for reinforcement learning by WB Knox, P Stone – Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on …, 2010 – Citeseer

Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability by NJ Rooney, S Cowan – Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2011 – Elsevier

Don’t Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training by K Pryor – 2019 –

Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety, Excessive Barking, Aggression … by V Stilwell – 2013 –

Use of experimenter-given cues in dogs by Á Miklösi, R Polgárdi, J Topál, V Csányi – Animal cognition, 1998 – Springer

Your New Vizsla Puppy by F Slattery –