Build your reward system

In order to be able to train your dog – you must be able to control what your dog finds super fun.

That means you will be competing with squirrels, ring crew, other dogs having a blast etc...

You will need to learn what your dog finds naturally rewarding and then build on it so that your dog learns to value things that you can provide.

The wider the range of rewards that your dog learns to value - the more effectively you can use them to motivate your dog to learn and work hard. Here are some tips:

1. Teach your dog that engaging with you is super fun. You are teaching your dog that treats and toys are just a vehicle to engage with you. Sometimes this is hard for the dog (shy dog, independent personality). Sometimes this is hard for the handler (physical limitations, fear of looking silly). Sometimes this is hard in the environment (distracting, better rewards that you don't control like birds, or other dogs in the household).

2. Make play with you so rewarding that your dog will work for it - and make play and training the same thing for your dog.

3. Teach your dog what it sounds like when you are inviting them to play (ready/steady?) is a typical invitation to play

4. Teach your dog what it sounds like when you are having a blast – just pay attention to what comes naturally but take note – you can then use this tone/voice/phrasing to reinforce your dog in other situations.

Build your dog’s desire to play with 3 different kinds of toys that are useful in training.

1) Something that accelerates – this is for dogs who like to chase and run AND for dogs who need to learn to like to chase and run. You will want your dog to work hard to chase and find and object, and also to fetch it directly back to you so you can continue your training session promptly. “GET IT” is a useful behavior which is permission for your dog to go retrieve their toy.

2) Something that stays put – this is for targeting away from you, self control behaviors, sending your dog away and ahead, teaching directionals, and teaching your dog to value precision and persistence in finding their stationary toy.

3) Something you can reward close to your side (tug) – this is also for targeting, a desire to get back to you or to work hard to come to a specific side of you. You will use your “GET IT” command to invite your dog to grab onto a toy and “GIVE” (or something equivalent) to teach them to immediately release the toy.

© 2017 by Andrea Dexter @ Agilityflix