5 Ways to Reward Your Dog Other Than Food
What better way than to give treats to reward your dog! Food is a great incentive for dogs to behave in the ways we prefer, as well as a great reward for the times they exceed our expectations. The number of different treats available to us is overwhelming. Chicken, cheese, beef, lamb, sweet potato, bison, etc. Of course, being a dog owner, we want to give our dog the stuff they love. So why wouldn’t we?
Sometimes the foods our furry friends love aren’t actually that good for them. It is found that 60% of pet owners will choose a food that their dog likes to eat versus what will actually meet their health needs.
Choosing the right treat is one way to look after our pets, but what happens when dogs begin to over eat? The simple answer: they gain weight. It is estimated that 60% of dogs in Canada are obese or overweight. When dogs gain weight, it puts extra pressure on their joints and can often cause or increase joint pain problems. One way to avoid this potential problem is to find rewards other than food. Stay away from those yummy snacks and find something else to praise your pup with! Below are 5 ways to reward your dog other than food!
Reward Your Dog With Playtime with You
A reward does not have to be something tangible like a piece of food; it can be time to bond with your pet! When your dog is good, reward them with some play time. Take 10 minutes out of your day to go in the backyard or to the park and play. Whether it is fetch, tug-of-war, or hide and seek, any playtime will be loved. The fact that you are taking the time to be with them and give them your full attention is definitely a reward your dog will recognize. In addition, it also will benefit you! You will get to spend some quality time bonding with your dog, get some fresh air and exercise, and even wash away some of that stress.
Reward Your Dog With Praise
This may not be a reward that works for all dogs, but for some it can be all they need. When your dog has conducted a behaviour that you appreciate, be their biggest fan. Let your voice show how proud you are of them and how good they are. They will sense in your tone that they have done something good. In addition, reward your dog with physical praise: scratch behind their ears, rub their belly, or give them a good pat. These physical actions as well as your excited and happy voice will be a big indicator to your dog that they have just done something to be repeated.
Reward Your Dog With Their Favourite Event
Every dog has their own personality as well as likes and dislikes. Take a look at the events your dog enjoys most and use that as a way to reward your dog. Depending on the dog, this could be a walk, taking a bath, or letting them snuggle on that soft blanket of yours. These rewards are usually best when they are combined with a short-term behaviour. For example, if your dog loves baths, he must wait quietly until you are ready for him to come into the bathroom. Give them small tasks to do before the reward (sit, stay, etc.). Giving a quick command beforehand can help strengthen that behaviour into their training. No matter what they love, giving them the opportunity to do their favourite event is a reward in their minds. The joy on your dog’s face will be enough to put a smile on yours.
Reward Your Dog With Their Favourite Toy
Another way to reward your dog for good behaviour is to give them their favourite toy. Balls, ropes, squeaky toys, the list of toys goes on. When rewarding your dog with a toy, be sure it is one that they love to play with and get excited to see. If you do choose to use this method to reward your dog, be sure that the toy is not always available to them. If their favourite toy is lying around, they can easily lose interest in it and it does not hold value anymore. Keep the favourite toy on a high shelf so they know that when you bring it down, they are being rewarded. This will ensure that the item does not lose its value and continues to be a reward for a longer time period.
Reward Your Dog With Playtime with Other Dogs
Dogs are social creatures. Many of them love to go and run around with their furry friends. Although this may not be something that you can put in front of their face to elicit a behaviour, it is a good reward to get some quick obedience. Asking them to sit and stay before telling them you are going to go see “Fido’s Friend.” This can also be a way to teach them attention in busy environments. For example, if you are at the dog park, before your dog goes and plays, ask them for their attention with a sit and look. Once they have done this, give your dog permission to go and play. This then rewards your dog and lets them know that before running off they should always check in with you!
Using methods other than food to reward your dog is a great and healthy way to reinforce good behaviour. Not only will you be happy that your dog is better trained, but you also know that you are doing something good for them. Avoiding a food-focused reward system can prevent future weight gain and joint problems. Take steps in the right direction to give your dog a happier life.
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