Motivation in The Eyes of the Dog

Dogs are generally eager to please.  They look up to the “leader of the pack” and usually try to do the right thing.  But incentive and motivation play a big role in teaching and enforcing the rules that dogs need to live by within their human family.   Motivation comes in many forms and is a necessary tool for communicating with your pup.

 Encourage Good Behavior

Nothing says positive reinforcement like a treat, or reward, for good behavior.

Motivator: The Treat

Back when dogs lived in the wild the strongest and healthiest survived, so food is a big part of the canine world.  Treats should be used only to reward good behavior or for a job well done.  Treats dispensed for no reason will either reinforce bad behavior or be counterproductive since your pup will no longer view the treat as something to strive for.

Motivator: Praise

Dogs thrive on acceptance.  Being a member of a group, or pack, was essential to the survival of our dog’s ancestors and that carries through to their lives today.  When your pup listens to your command let them know you are happy.  Praise can come in the form of a hearty “good job!”, scratches under their ears, a belly rub, anything that lets them know you are happy and want them part of the group.

Encourage Exercise

Some dogs are always ready for a walk or game of fetch.  Others seem happy and content to lounge on the couch or sleep the day away.  No matter what their energy level, all dogs benefit from a daily walk or other form of exercise; some just may need a little motivation.

Motivator: Other Dogs

Dogs are pack animals and enjoy the company of others, especially other dogs.  Motivate your pup to walk by having a walking buddy join in on the fun.   Get together with other walkers and their dogs and hit the road for a group walk.

If you have a yard, or other fenced area, host a puppy playdate. Dogs of similar size and temperament will have fun and exercise playing off leash in a secure and supervised environment.  With friends, toys, and space to run your pup will be up and ready to go.  Be sure to provide water, especially in warm weather, and have treats on hand to reward them when they listen to you that it is time to go.

Motivator: Your Excitement

If you show enthusiasm for the walk your dog will too.  Dogs are very perceptive and if you are not excited for the walk, neither will your pup. Make the walk a positive and enjoyable experience with treats, water on hot days, and lots of positive energy.

Over time, you will find that your your couch potato pup looks forward to these walks and will be eager to get up and go.

Being a positive and enthusiastic role model, along with the proper motivation,  will get your dog on the right track to becoming the perfect canine citizen.

7 thoughts on “Motivation in The Eyes of the Dog

  1. I have no problem trying to motivate or exercise my crazy boxer Lacey. The problem I have with her is to try to keep her calm and to exercise her enough so she sleeps.

    Thanks for the nice article Marie !

    • If you feed hyperactivity you get hyperactivity. If you feed calm and relaxed you get calm and relaxed. I would say you throw the ball alot and possibily RUN the dog with an idea you must wear her out. By pressing the prey drive button numerous times a day,you can’t then wonder why your crazy boxer won’t settle down.Realize how many days,weeks,months you have been treating your dog this way and you will realize why she behaves that way. Treat the dog naturally and let it be natural,it’s about dog fulfillment not exercise. If the dog is to change,the human must change,keep doing what you always do,keep getting what you always get. Try it for a week,you will see positive changes in your dog.

  2. Dakota the Corgi would turn backflips for a treat if she was physcially capable of doing so.  No treat….”meh”…She’s getting used to acting on my instructions without a treat every time…just sometimes, but she never knows when that sometimes will be.

  3. My dog loves to play fetch but refuses to give up the ball after he retrieves it. He has incredibly strong jaws and I can’t pry the ball away so I’m forced to play with 2 balls, throwing 1 ball so he can drop the one in his mouth. I’ve tried using treats to get him to give up the ball but the still refuses to open his mouth and let me have the ball he retrieves. Is there any hope of teaching him to be a normal dog that fetches a ball and brings it back to me?

    • Put the accent on a different syllable.  Back chain so you start by clicking and treating the release.  Probably don’t start with a ball, too high a value and no good way to grab it.  Start with something you dog doesn’t even especially like. then it is easy for him to give it up and he starts to learn that the give-up gets rewarded.

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