Choose The Right Rewards
Every dog is different and what your dog finds reinforcing that another dog may loathe. The quickest method of reinforcing a dog is food, Food increases the level of dopamine in the dog's brain, Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. Studies have shown that dogs don’t want petting or soothing words as much as they prefer a primary reinforcer (food). They prefer petting over soothing words, and they prefer food over petting. Scientists also found that if you want a dog to try harder, learn faster, and work for reward then you need to release dopamine. Food is a great tool in dog training, it can help to completely change a dog's behaviour. I always recommend reducing your dog's food portion when giving lots of treats during the day.
How do I know which foods my dog likes?
Playing the Muffin Tin Game helps you to see what foods your dog loves and which foods they don't seem keen on. Find 12 treats that you can use as rewards (see Kong list below) place a small amount of each treat in the muffin tin holes, place the muffin tin down and make note of which food your dog goes to first and what they leave until last.
If you compare treats to money, a standard piece of dog kibble may be equivalent to 50p for your dog and cooked chicken may be equivalent to £50. It's no good going to the park with a pocket full of 50ps and wondering why you're dog doesn't seem to be listening. When working around distractions then you have to have pockets full of different £50s.
Toys and games can be a dog's favourite way to be rewarded, many dogs would prefer a game of tug with their owner over a treat.
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I use lots of different shop bought treats and human foods to reward my dog and my client's dogs. My favourite treats to buy
Jr Pet Product Sausage Pate
True Instinct- Dehydrated treats
Jr Pet Product Training Treats
Feelwell Liver treats
Safe Human Food Dogs Can Eat
Apples (no core, stems, or seeds)
Blackberries (will stain – use with caution) Blueberries (will stain – use with caution)
Cheese (watch for fat content)
Honey (in moderation due to high sugar content) Hot Dogs
Oranges (in moderation)
Sugar Snap Peas
Yoghurt (plain, low fat)