January 28, 2023

How to Reward a Dog Without Using Treats

  • As most dog owners know, the easiest way to get Fido to do what you want is to offer a delicious treat as a reward. While this is likely to get the result you desire, oftentimes your dog becomes accustomed to receiving food after completing a requested task, which can lead to begging. It’s important to vary your dog’s rewards when training so it doesn’t learn any bad habits or form expectations. After all, you want your pooch to do that adorable “roll over” trick on command, not just when you have food to offer, right? Click through for some ways you can reward your pup without traditional treats.

  • TAKE A LONGER WALK

    Most dogs do a happy dance when you grab the leash, so it’s no secret that they just love a good walk. The great thing is you can use walks as a reward, in addition to your dog’s regular daily jaunts. Maybe you only do one lap around the block usually. If you want to give your pup a treat, make it three laps, or maybe try another direction to mix it up. Allowing your dog to smell different parts of his neighborhood will make it happy and wear it out. Hey, there’s even a little exercise reward for you in there, too.

  • TOYS

    Granted, there are some dogs that just don’t show an interest in toys. But if your dogs is motivated by little things that squeak and bounce, you can use his toys as a reward mechanism. To make toy playtime that much more special, control when your dog gets access to the toys. Don’t just leave them around the house to use when he feels compelled.

  • PLAYTIME WITH DOG FRIENDS

    Just like when your mom would allow you to play with your friends after finishing your homework, you can offer playtime with other furry friends as a reward for your dog. Maybe invite another dog over for a play date, or take your four-legged pal to a place where it can run around with other dogs. A little company can go a long way for your pooch.

  • ALLOW FOR OUTDOOR PLAY TIME

    This option might not seem so special if your dog has free run of a backyard, but for apartment dwellers with mostly indoor pups, allowing for some outdoor off-leash sniffing and playing time is a sweet treat.

  • GIVE EXTRA ATTENTION AND CUDDLE TIME

    Dogs are pack animals, so there’s nothing they love more than some quality time with their human masters. If your dog is deserving of special treatment, offer a reward though an extra cuddle session. If your canine is not much of a cuddler, try a nice back scratch or belly rub.

  • A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA IN THE FOOD DISH

    Imagine being a dog that gets the same meal, day after day. It’s not hard to imagine how that might get boring. As a reward after a long training session, try adding a little something extra to your pooch’s food dish to mix up the routine. This could be as simple as adding some crunchy kale stalks or chicken stock to some kibble. Mixing in wet food or pieces of fresh meat is also something your pup will likely be excited about, and you won’t be reinforcing bad habits. 

  • PLAY GAMES WITH YOUR DOG

    What do dogs love second best, after delicious treats? Attention from their masters, of course! If your dog enjoys a particular game, offer it as a reward when it does something good. Did your new puppy make it the whole day without having an accident in the house? Great! Spend some extra time playing tug-of-war. Your pooch will start to look forward to this special time and learn that doing certain behaviors equal playtime.

  • VERBAL PRAISE AND WARM GESTURE

    Dogs respond well to human voices and gestures. When your pup does something good, communicate that in a calm, high-pitched voice. Pair that with a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear. Verbal praise and a warm gesture can help teach your canine to respond to verbal commands with nothing but “good dog!” and a pat on the head as the reward.

  • Next: What Type of Pet Parent Are You?

    How do you praise your dog without giving it a traditional treat? Let us know the innovative ways that you reward your pooch in the comments section below!