We all love being rewarded for our hard work, and so do our pets, especially when they know they’ve done what we wanted them to. Just like with our kids or doing a job at work, a reward should be given at the right time, not before doing something and not too long after, either. When it’s given at the right time it will only encourage the good behaviour even more.
The kind of reward is important too, so knowing what your pet finds motivating can make things easier and fun for everyone. Treats are the go-to for rewarding our pets, it’s easy it works but what if our pet needs to lay off the snacks?
We take a look at non-food rewards that might work for your pet.
Verbal praise won’t work straight away as our pets won’t understand the meaning of the words without you teaching them the meaning of it. Repetition is key and they’ll soon get the message. The same way as you train a dog to sit or roll over.
Verbal praise can work really well as a dog can read your body language and will be able to see if you’re in a good mood. Or not. Be prepared for an excited dog.
Instead of giving them their favourite toy whenever they want it why not incorporate toys into your training or as a part of your positive reinforcement? It might work more with dogs as you’d get them to do a trick and then reward them with their favourite toy.
They’ll love it!
Not all cats or dogs will like to be rewarded with physical affection and it would depend on the situation, but it can work really well for some. This could be as simple as a pet or a rub along the spine, a belly rub, or rubbing behind the ears. You’ll know what your pet would enjoy the most.
If your dog or cat loves playing a game, you could always initiate a game your pet enjoys when they’ve done something you like. Just like treats, once your pet does something you’ve asked them to do, initiate a game.
For dogs, this could be things like tug or fetch. It might be a little harder for a cat as they kind of do whatever they like and don’t really care if they please you or not, but you could try and engage them in a game with a toy dangler.
Before placing the bowl on the floor at dinner time, get your dog to sit. Once they’ve done that, provide them with the reward of dinner. Another great example would be before going out for a walk. Before opening the door get them to sit nicely, they then get the reward of going outside for listening.
Cats are a little trickier but say that they make their demands to go outside known vocally you could wait until they’re silent before opening the window or door for them. Slowly but surely, they’ll learn that meowing doesn’t necessarily get them what they want.