Reality television was born from the concept, “what is the craziest task I can ask you to do and how much do I have to pay you to do it??” Nowadays, people don’t even have to get paid; they just want more followers or want to be on television and “be famous!” If only it was this easy for dogs.
When training your dog with treats, there are a couple of other variables that we must account for that are very similar to the concept of reality television.
WHAT are you asking the dog to do and how difficult is the task you are asking of them?
Are there other distractions? Are you asking them to sit but not realizing the concrete below is very hot? Are you asking them to come to you to go inside when there is so much FREEDOM and smells outside?
AND how much you’re willing to pay for the said task?
You don’t work for free, and your dog won’t initially either. Until you have a SOLID relationship with training and heavy reinforcements with you, MOST tasks aren’t worth it for most dogs. You must master the value system for YOUR dog. Every dog is different, just like people.
- What does my dog WANT at this moment? (Treat, to go outside, get a leash put on, go for a walk, get on the couch, etc.)
- How difficult is the task that I’m asking? Is it just a sit or a down-stay for 30min? Are you asking them to come immediately on command in a dog park full of their friends?
- How do they VALUE whatever I am using as the reinforcer compared to the difficulty of the task? Am I giving them a piece of their kibble or a portion of chicken? Some dogs literally lose their mind over another dog, so IF they behave and walk patiently on a leash, you may allow them to go see their neighborhood friend.
If you can nail these three things in 95% of situations, you can get a very well-trained dog who DOESN’T only need treats to do things.
To clarify a bit more, let’s put this in a human perspective.
Let’s say you’re having a lazy Sunday afternoon. I ask you to watch TV for 1 hour, and I will pay you $20. Easy peasy! You would probably have done it for free!
Unless you don’t like TV – which brings me to another point that TV would not be a reinforcer for you at all or $20 may not be worth it because you REALLY don’t want to watch TV. I may have to pay you a lot more!
Now if I ask you to watch a horrible show, that $$ amount goes up.
If I ask you to watch it when you have 10,000 other things to do… that $$ amount goes up!
Now for your dog, the good thing is they don’t value money, I know I would go broke if that were the case! Really get to know your dog so that you can learn what they do value. Make sure you read our Top 8 Reinforcers Article to understand all the options you have with your pet to get any behavior you want!
As always, I have worked with many dogs and can help you with this process! If you are busy, we can always do an online consultation to discuss your options!