Ep. 34: Types of Reinforcement

In today’s episode we’re going to discuss a variety of reinforcements you can offer your dog during training sessions and real life scenarios.

One important point to remind our listeners is that regardless if we’re in training mode or not, our dogs are learning contingencies all the time. The environment is reinforcing our dog’s behavior and unfortunately for our egos, we must admit that we are only a sliver of the environment. 

Using Food:

Things to Consider:

  • Use your dog’s kibble or meal if they appear to be motivated by that food! Not all about treats! 
  • Notice what they like, love and cant live without!
  • Why is it first on our list? It’s easy and fast to deliver and it is high value to our dogs!
  • Use the right level of food per the context. For example, when training indoors use a lower value treat and when training outside, use higher value treats! 

Different types of food reinforcement that we like:

  • Meat based baby food Gerber chicken with chicken gravy or beef with beef gravy
  • Deli meat
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese / peanut butter frozen or refrigerated in small Tupperware
  • Freeze dried cheese
  • Natural balance treat logs (cut into small pieces)
  • Stella and Chewy’s freeze dried cakes (broken in small pieces)
  • Red Barn / Natural Balance treat logs
  • Ziwi Peaks Air-Dried dog food

Using Play:

Things to Consider:

  • Is play reinforcing for your dog? In that moment? 
  • Use every day play sessions and turn them into structured training sessions!
  • In order to use play as reinforcement, you have to be able to regulate your dog’s access to play during a training session. Practice drop it would be a great life skill to practice! 
  • Rotate your dog’s access to toys to keep them new and exciting!

Different examples of play reinforcement:

  • Tug especially for mouthy dogs or dogs that get overstimulated by the game 
  • Flirt Pole 
  • Fetch / chase
  • Toys
    • Squeak
    • Balls – rubber, tennis
    • Long rope toys
    • Plushy
    • Harder rubber toys

Link to Barkbox!!
Farm Hounds

Using Environmental and Life Rewards 

Things to Consider:

  • Train your dog a specific behavior using food first before transitioning to a life reward.

Different types of environmental reinforcement that we like:

  • Sniffing a certain spot
  • Hopping in the car
  • Getting the leash on
  • Taking the leash off
  • Water
  • Access to park
  • Access to trail
  • Access to someone / something
  • Access to another dog
  • Going into the backyard
  • Getting attention
  • SQUIRRELS!!

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