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.
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.
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.