Tags: Pets

Motivating Your Mutt

Yes, dogs, just like people need a reason to do as you are asking them to do. One of the most successful motivators in the world of behaviour modification is food. And luckily dogs are naturally highly food driven and I bet you all know what your dog’s favourite treat is!

Not all dogs however are tempted by food all the time.  There will be situations where you are trying to motivate your dog to do something and food won't cut it. And for some dog owners out there who have a dog that simply isn’t food driven an alternative motivator needs to be found. So if it is sometimes or all the time, here are a few things to think about to develop your plan.

Tone of voice - You are likely to be familiar with the sound of a puppy training class when there are a group of adult humans in high pitch voices encouraging their new puppy to come to them. There is a reason for this. High pitch noise stimulates the dog into action, this is why children and dogs are a complicated mix. Putting your excited child voice on when you are trying to get your dog to come to you will assist you in your quest. This will help also for tasks like getting your reluctant dog to jump into the car. However you would not use an excited voice for the sit command because in this situation you are not wanting to stimulate activity in the dog, you want the opposite. Therefore an opposing tone is needed.

Squeaky toys - Squeaky toys are a well know favourite. Most puppies grow up with a squeaky toy and driving the household mad with the constant squeaking. It works for the same reason the high, excited tone of voice does but if your dog is obsessed with a squeaky toy, you can also use it as a reward for training other behaviours that you would not use the excited voice for. In these situations you withhold the toy and give it when the dog performs the task you ask.

Tug games and balls - Dogs can be very highly motivated with playing a tug game or being thrown a ball. Many of you have stories of the obsessive pet you can throw a ball to all day and they will just keep bringing it back for more. Your dog’s behaviour around certain toys and games you play will quickly tell you which toy or game they love the most. Is it retrieving or is it playing tug? Every dog is individual in its choices so find out what your dog loves the most and use to your advantage!

Comfort - Dogs need a reason to do something and there is also a reason they choose not to do something. If you are faced with a situation where your dog is seemingly refusing to do something for you it is not being defiant. There will be a reason. If it won’t get in the car, maybe it has suffered car sickness. If your dog knows down and now for some reason it won’t always do it when you ask, stop and think about why. It might just be that when you are asking for your dog to down on the concrete, it is simply too uncomfortable but on the grass is fine. Just like us, as your dog gets older some actions become painful.

Bonding - The better relationship you have with your dog, the more it will want to work for you. So it is important to consider the emotional bond you have with your dog. Mutual respect is the goal for a winning formula. There is a right time and a wrong time for affection when working for your dog but respect is a constant.

Whatever behaviour you are trying to achieve, remember to think about WHY the dog would do it, HOW you can increase motivation and if you are still struggling, WHAT might be causing your dog to avoid what you are asking.

Dog HQ Limited 09 44 22 365 www.doghq.co.nz www.facebook.com/doghq

Issuu 67 July 2016