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The Dog Training POV Series with Trevor Smith - Reward Training | Pupford

November 14th, 2022

Filed under Training

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When training a dog, rewards are so important. That is how you can get your dog to listen to you when you are asking them to perform different behaviors and cues, and then have them repeat those things over and over. But not all dogs are motivated the exact same way. Some dogs like treats, while others like toys or praise. So, how do you get your dog motivated to train and play with you?

In this video in the Dog Training POV Series, Trevor covers one of the most important topics - rewards. With Trevor’s dog Bolt, his goal was to get him motivated by treats, play, AND pets, praise, and life events. But how did he do that? Be sure to watch the video to find out.

Let’s get into it!



Rewards, when it comes to behaviors, are something that will help to increase the behaviors we want them to do or help them to increase behaviors in general.

Behavior that is rewarded is likely to increase. So it is important that you reward the behavior that you want your dog to increase, which is why it is important to know what your dog likes for rewards.


dog playing with a toy in the backyard | Pupford

One of the best things that you can do as you start your relationship with your dog is to observe them. Figure out what your dog likes the most. Ask yourself:

  • Do they like toys?
  • Do they like balls?
  • Do they like to tug?
  • Do they like chicken?
  • Do they like freeze dried salmon? 

Watch your dog and figure out what their likes and dislikes are!

In a previous episode of this series, Trevor let Bolt play in a pile of toys to find out which toys he liked the most. You can watch that here.  


dog getting distracted by things at park | Pupford

Just like us, dogs too can get bored of eating the same thing and playing with the same toy day after day. They also may not be interested in treats in different environments.

But rewards aren't only have to be specific toys or treats, it can also be:

  • Going on a walk
  • A squirrel (eek)
  • Anything they find interesting and exciting
  • Fetch
  • Tug

If you’re not able to find something reinforcing for your dog, they will find reinforcement elsewhere. So by playing the games mentioned below, you can work on finding different ways to reward your dog in different environments.

And remember that dogs don’t generalize behaviors, so just because they fetch at home or play with a toy at home, doesn’t mean that they will pick it up in new environments. You may need to go back to the basics in new environments and work at their pace.


Take your dog’s treat and simply pet your dog, then give them a treat.

Slowly, your dog will start to begin to understand that when they are pet, something good happens! And you will be able to use a pet as a reinforcer itself because it predicts a treat.

If your dog isn’t motivated at all by treats, you can give your dog a toy or praise instead.


Taking the same approach as the pet game, you can work on increasing the value of different toys.

Use puzzle toys and put treats in them or give your dog a fun toy and then treat them!

You can also make the toy more exciting by moving it around, squeaking it, using it as a tug toy and more.
We hope these tips help as you find different reinforcements for your dog! What other things does your dog find reinforcing? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to follow along on YouTube to watch the other videos in this series.


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