Finding The Value Where Your Dog Sees It- A Story About Unusual Rewards


Finding The Value Where Your Dog Sees It- A Story About Unusual Rewards

This morning I was playing with my new puppy (he will get his own introduction post soon!). We play with all kinds of toys – balls, fluffy toys, pine cones, leaves, grass…In this case the toy was an old glove that was lying around. I find it useful if a dog will play with everything and anything, it makes having a reward that they will like with you much easier!

Suddenly the pup let go and bit the sleeve of my shirt with gusto instead. He seemed to enjoy this even more than the glove. I was thrilled – and happily continued playing with him by letting him chase and tug on the sleeve. It was the most drive he had shown for any game or toy so far, and we had a great time.

It reminded me of little Kix. When she was Lifetime access old, she wasn’t terribly interested in traditional dog toys – balls, fluffy toys, soft tug leashes all were not exactly making her go crazy. I like to have as much enthusiasm as possible in training and playing from my dogs, so I kept on looking for the one thing that would be her very favorite game. She showed me herself what she had in mind: Biting shoes. Her breeder had told me that she enjoyed to tug on shoe laces, and she soon continued with this passion on my shoes. At a training some friends saw my little puppy hanging onto my shoe like it was a bite sleeve one day and told me I urgently need to stop this. I pretty much did the opposite: I bought a cheap pair of shoes that were going to be her biting shoes.

I wore these shoes on every outing with puppy Kix, when we went for our walks, when we trained, when we socialized…the biting shoes were with us and I soon put biting the shoes on a cue and used it as a reward for recalls. I imagine we looked strange: A girl calling her dog in the forest, and when the dog came she enthusiatically latched onto the feet of the girl who cheered her on! I kept being warned that this would be a problem, but I am stubborn and like to follow my own ideas so this didn’t deter us.

I got a soft leash made out of fleece that was eventually going to replace the shoes. At this point they were hardly shoes anymore, but rather a rubber sole with a gaping hole on top. We had played with other toys as well, so I would now ask her to play with the fleece leash for just a few seconds before she was allowed to bite her beloved shoes. She played with it with the same joy that she had for the shoes in expectation of the shoe play just afterwards.

Over the course of a couple week we made the leash play longer and longer (and also used other toys before the shoes), until eventually she had the same drive for non-shoe toys as she had for biting shoes. When she was about a half year old the shoes finally went into the trash, and she has not attempted to bite anyone’s feet ever since.

Let your dog tell you what he enjoys the most – and then find out how you can use this in a convenient way for rewards. Their passions can be unconventional, but they will very much appreciate you exploring them.