Tuesday Training Tidbits: What Motivates Your Dog?

This adorable video is a great demonstration of self-control (the dogs all wait until they are given the “OK” to eat their cake) and of differences in motivation. The Lab is obviously MUCH more motivated by the cake than the Pugs!

What are reinforcers?

Reinforcers are used to increase the likelihood of behavior you want to see more of.

How good is this cake as a reinforcer (notwithstanding that dogs really shouldn’t have a lot of cake) to the Lab? To the Pugs? Do you think the Lab would be willing to do more work to get the cake than the Pugs would?

How hard do you think each dog would work to get a steak? A feather? A hamburger? A rock? A single piece of kibble?

What if your dog doesn’t seem too excited by treats? You can try a different type of treat (don’t use cake!) to see if something else is a better motivator than what you’re currently using. Some dogs are more motivated by praise or petting, too.

Does your dog prefer meaty things? Stinky things? Cheesy things? Sweet things? You can also try using more of the treat at a time (within reason). For example, imagine how hard that Lab might work for TWO pieces of cake!

(Warning: filling your dog with cake is not a good idea!)

If you know your own dog’s most effective reinforcers, be sure to share them in the comments!