Guest Authored By Kaylee Moore – Show our guest author some love by sharing and commenting!
If Your Dog Isn't Food Motivated, Try These Other Ways To Reward Your Dog Without Treats

Some dogs just don’t like treats.

I can hear the howls of laughter now. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. There are dogs out there that just aren’t motivated by a crunchy cookie or a juicy morsel. You may be thinking what a great deal that would be – never having to hide the treat jar from view or watch your pups fight over the last piece of duck jerky – but just consider how much of their training is due to those magic strips.

If your dog doesn’t react to the incentive (a tasty treat), then it’s unlikely that he’ll be motivated to learn the commands and tricks you’ve been working so hard on. So how do you reinforce good behavior without the help of that bag of goodies in your pocket?

With the help of a few pooches who turn their snouts down to treats, we’ve developed this list of 5 ways to reward your pup without them. These are also helpful for dogs on strict diets that don’t allow for the inclusion of high-calorie snacks.

1. Verbal praise

Being called a “good boy,” can bring a wag to any tail. When your dog has performed a trick, be sure to immediately exclaim how proud you are of him. Remember, dogs are smart and can identify the meaning of many words, but your tone is the most important part of communication. If you mumble your words or don’t seem enthusiastic your dog won’t understand that you’re proud of him. Use a high pitched, excited voice to show how happy you are. The more exuberant you are the more your dog will appreciate the praise.

2. Physical attention

Nothing goes better with an approving remark than a good belly rub. Dogs generally prefer physical attention to kind words; similar to how you may prefer a shoulder rub to, “Great dinner, honey,” from your significant other. And while you should continue to provide verbal praise, you’ll probably see more results from adding a quick pet or nuzzle to your dog’s reward. Get to know her favorite scratch zones and really pour on the love when she accomplishes a task. If she sits on command keep the verbal praise coming while you give her a scratch behind the ears; when she lies down and rolls over rub her chest or belly. Soon you won’t even have to ask!

3. Attentive playtime

Most dogs want nothing more than to play with their pet parents. When your dog has exhibited good behavior indulge him. Games like tug-of-war provide your dog a means to expel energy while feeling close to you. It also teaches him important lessons like how to stay focused while excited and what boundaries you have regarding roughhousing. Alternatively, if your dog loves another game, play that; just make sure you’re present and not phoning it in. Dogs lose interest when their humans do.

Tip: This is also a great way to expel energy for overweight dogs or those breeds that need extra exercise.

4. Excursions as a reward

No, we’re not talking about a Disney cruise, but a car ride around the block is a great incentive. If there’s one thing that all dogs seem to agree on it’s that car rides are the ultimate form of travel. There’s just something about the open road and the wind in her hair that sends her into fits of joy when you utter the words, “Wanna go for a ride?” So, if it’s a nice day and a mini road trip sounds appealing, treat your dog to a few laps around the block. If (on the rare occasion) the car makes her nervous opt for a long walk or a trip to the bark park. Let’s be honest, she’s already at the door when you get, “Wanna go…” past your lips, whether the end of that question is to the park, on a walk or for a ride, she’s probably on board.

5. A new toy

Just because your dog doesn’t respond to edible treats, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t love a brand new squeaky toy. Using a lasting toy instead of a fleeting treat could actually help your dog to master tricks and commands faster. As we mentioned earlier, games like tug can teach your dog invaluable lessons while in a fun, relaxed environment. Start with an exciting game of fetch and when you get the toy back ask your dog to sit before tossing it again. He’ll eventually get the idea and you won’t have to ask at all.

Remember, all dogs have individual personalities and quirks. If your furry friend doesn’t like treats (or likes them too much) try these 5 alternatives to promote healthy training and positive reinforcement. You’ll build a strong bond with your pup while giving her the tools to learn important commands and tricks. Plus, you’ll be confident in knowing that loving gaze is directed at you and not the juicy treat in your palm!

Kaylee Moore
Kaylee Moore is a professional writer specializing in small business development with a penchant for pooches. With nearly a decade of pet care experience, she truly loves learning what works and sharing her insight with others. When she’s not at the bark park, she can be found developing her website and blog at WritingMoore.com.