Are You Bribing Your Dog?

When using food or a toy as a reward you want to ensure that you don’t depend on it. You should be like a slot machine and only pay out variably without the dog having to see the reward. Let’s take a look at the difference.

Bribery is when you use the food or toy reward to entice your dog to exhibit a particular behavior. Maybe you do it by showing your dog the reward and then asking for a behavior or you ask for the behavior and when he doesn’t comply you show the reward. You can also bribe your dog by shaking a treat bag or using words that signify a treat such as, “do you want a cookie?”

Luring is also a form of bribery. If you use a treat for your dog to follow in order to exhibit a behavior. When luring, it may seem like you are getting the behavior faster but in reality, you are adding one more step to eliminate before you are able to command the behavior without a reward in sight.

The proper way to use any type of reward, regardless if it’s food or a toy, is to get the behavior first, acknowledge it with a verbal, and then give the reward. The reward may be in your pocket, in a treat bag or even in a jar on the counter in another room. As a “slot machine” you should keep your dog guessing as to when the payout will occur. He will continue to offer the behavior hoping the next one hits the jackpot.

The most important thing to remember is to not depend on a food or toy reward. Focus on acknowledging behavior with a verbal, with a verbal and pet and then a verbal with a resource. If you focus on always acknowledging what you want to see repeated you are more likely to have a consistently well-mannered dog even in the absence of a physical reward.