You’ll hear me talking a lot of about motivation and value. What is it? What does my dog perceive to have value?
We use a lot of food and toys in our training progams. Is this motivation? For some dogs, yes. For others, not so much.
So what do we do about that? If a dog must have a measure of motivation and obligation to perform reliably but it doesn’t care for food or a toy…now what?
Many dogs come to us with no real appreciation of the need to work for anything in their world. It’s all on free vend to them. Available on tap anytime they want it. Don’t fancy what’s for breakfast? Oh well, just leave it and Mum will dream up another more tasty treat for dinner. Erm, no. Not in this house!
Often we also see dogs exhibiting the wrong kind of drive and at the wrong times. They have no interest in a toy or in playtime with their owner and would sit and stare at them trying to play, but if you try to go for a walk down the street they’ll show you all the drive and determination in the world to get across that street to another dog.
When dogs coming into our training program we have to tap into their motivations and that means we reduce all available options for self reward or free access to reward. All rewards come from us, including their daily food and all toys and playtime.
This immediately changes the way that each dog looks at us, we just became a lot more important to their survival!
So, now we have the dog’s attention, let’s see which behaviours we want to reward and which we don’t care for so much….let the training begin!