What motivates your dog?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Hazel*adopte- d*

Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 6:51pm PST 
I wanted to start this thread and see what seems to motivate your dog the most? Is your dog super food driven? or lives for a favorite ball? or a Frisbee? Or a good game of tug? or any toys?. Or does your dog just like praise and to make you the owner happy? Or does your dog just like to work and the work itself is rewarding for them.

So what motivates your dog when training?

Hazel seems to be motivated by food, she was a feral puppy. She will happily work for her kibble!
Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 7:18pm PST 
Ava... She's motivated by food. That's it. She couldn't care less if I praised her all day and night. She's not interested in toys. She's easy to train though. Very quick to pick up on things. It's just... if you don't have food, she considers it a waste of time and 9 times out of 10, without food, she won't listen. Can't phase out the treats with her either. Believe me, I've tried, every time we seem like we're getting to a good point either with the clicker or without. If you try, on the idea that it'll work like gambling, with the dog thinking "oh, well maybe THIS time I'll hit the jackpot!" well, Ava's the opposite. If she hits the jackpot sometimes, but not other times, then she'll eventually decide it's not worth the gamble and stop listening. She's not a gambler. laugh out loud Or... she's just too clever for her own good. I mean, it's ok though. She's a good dog. She doesn't need to be a top rate performer. smile

Nix, my superstar, is motivated by me! (ok... that sounds really egotistical) laugh out loud But really, I actually try not to use treats in his training because, despite being kind of a little bit picky (IE: he won't eat fruits or vegetables. Prefers meat-heavy treats to grain-heavy, etc.) he becomes a total airhead in the presence of yummy food. It's very difficult to get him to concentrate, because he's so focused on the treat, and not what I'm actually asking him to do. Being that Ava was my first dog, and I was used to training her, when I got Nix I had to learn whole new methods. Fortunately he's super motivated by toys, and praise, and... well, sometimes he's just motivated simply by the chance to do work. He loves having work to do.

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 7:33pm PST 
Onyx will work for long periods of time for a few pieces of food at the end. He loves any toy that can be retrieved, but can get a little over excited for those and just start guessing instead of actually listening, and he enjoys tugging with toys. He'll also work for praise, but I haven't tested how long he'll go with only praise as a motivator.

That's for obedience. With things like herding and bite work, the work itself is the reward.

Sarah, CWSR,- CWG1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 7:55pm PST 
Food, food, and more food. Occasionally the ball if she wants to play fetch. but mostly food...

Did I mention food?
Jake & Sweet- Caroline

Tricolored- Hounds for life!
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 7:58pm PST 
Jake is motivated best by some kind of lunchon meat. Spam is his favorite. Bacon, cheese, beef jerky... basically any kind of processed food he really shouldn't have.

To teach jake heel and loose leash walking a lot of peanut butter was sacrficed.

Jake won't preform for basic kibble sadly. But left over chicken, beef, or any type of raw meat has home jumping through hoops. Recently as in today I tried some exercises with dehydrated chicken hearts. Went great! and super healthy since i made them at home myself.

Sweetie on the otherhand is motivated by praise. It's wonderful. I can just talk to her and she does tricks for me. I love it. Though she will also do simple sit, focus for cheese or dehydrated raw meat. Though it's a trick in itself if Sweetie is doing anything but sleeping. big grin

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 8:32pm PST 
It's funny that Callie lives to eat but walking or anytime he visibly responds to verbal praise. "What a good guy, I am so proud of you!" for not growling at the bus stop guy or walking quietly past the dog across the street. I give him a butt pat and he looks back BEAMINGsnoopy

I am Fearless
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 8:57pm PST 
Mozart seems to be motivated half by food and half by toys mainly his Frisbee is his favorite toy. I like that I get the best of both worlds. I normally will use food for teaching new things with the clicker. But he will not work for kibble for teaching complex tricks I use very high rewards cheese, hot dogs, steak. He loves food but he also loves his Frisbee catching it in the air and tugging with it chasing after it, its funny seeing a small 10 lb dog loving a Frisbee so much. But I love it I always wanted a dog like a border collie who would love a Frisbee well I got that in small dogway to goapplause although sadly when Mozart is out in public he is too nervous to play with his Frisbee so we use food when out in public since he can be extremely nervous and excited in new environments likely from very poor breeding.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Tue Mar 19, '13 2:51am PST 
JT lives for work, so I have to make some for him every day. He loves herding balls the best ... Is crazy about big exercise balls. Loves 'holding' them with eye and stalking on command. Lives to be ordered around. laugh out loud With obedience he gets bored so I use food to keep him interested.

Miss- Pig!
Barked: Tue Mar 19, '13 8:02am PST 
Missy is motivated by most things so she's pretty easy to train. Praise, treats, toys....they all work. These days, i tend to use food to teach an initial command. But for all established commands it's mainly voice praise alone.

Ty is much more difficult. He likes treats and mostly does work well for them initially, but he gets bored quickly too and then no amount of treats is enough. He's not toy motivated at all. Not really motivated by voice praise either.
Alva BH

I ordered the- best dog for me- & got her
Barked: Tue Mar 19, '13 2:12pm PST 
No food or toy alone makes Alva to do her tricks in full magnitude. She will accept them as rewards and she will be motivated by them but something will be missing. She must be praised or otherwise showed appreciation. Yet only praising works as badly as only using a material reinforcer (I mean like a toy or treat). I think her number one motivator is cooperation (or getting attention), but she is so greedy that she wants to get something 'real' too.

What I usually use to reinforce or reward in her training:
- treats (usually pieces of meatballs)
- a rope toy (tug-o-war, chasing it)
- a ball (thrown)
- any other object that can be thrown, pulled around to be chased or tugged
- "wrestling" (I poke her, she "snaps" at me (she is not allowed to hurt me), I shove her, she jumps at me, we run in circles and she loves it)
- anything I can produce from what is around us. Like a stick or a lump of snow/ice.
- scratches.

If I have trained a new trick with treats I tend to end the lesson by inviting her to sit on my lap and then I cuddle her and praise her. I can also calm her down by a soothing cuddle after a little wrestling. I usually praise a lot more when she has learned a trick and I am pretty silent/passive when I start teaching her a new trick. I don't know why, maybe I fear that she gets too excited and does everything but what she should learn. Sometimes I say a quiet 'good girl' to encourage her to try more and to tell her that her direction is the right one when I have increased my criteria or to tell her that she is doing ok in a longer excercise.

I start with food and when she knows the trick and technical aspects of it I increase motivation and speed with more praising and play.
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