Building reward history with your dog
You might have heard trainers talk about building “reward history” with your dog but still not 100 percent sure what it means and why they keep talking about it over and over again. Well, building reward history with your dog in the very beginning stages of training is one of the most important things you can do and what builds that relationship up.
In the very beginning stages of training we teach out dogs where we want them to be at all times. It can either be on the left side or the right, which ever you prefer. Once you decide what side you want them to heel on, always stick to that same side so the dog knows where they are supposed to be, until their obedience becomes really solid.
Thats where the reward history comes in, if you decide you want to heel on the left that’s where you build that reward history at. Lots and lots of treats, you can never give enough treats to your dog. Constantly feeding on the left side is where your dog starts to understand that they only receive food when they are on that left side heel position. Same goes for If you want to heel on the right, only give food on the right side.
Now some dogs are not super food motivated and may be a little picky. It is okay to up your game in treats if some are not working. My pug Marchello happens to be one of those picky pups. He sometimes would eat the main treats I use for training and then sometimes he wouldn’t. I tried hot dogs, cheese, then finally cooked regular chicken and it did the trick. His eyes lit up every time he smelt that chicken, game changer.
Having lots and lots of food come from the handler or owner is telling your dog great things come from you. When you are training, it should be a game for them and be lots of fun. They are learning new things and getting lots of yummy treats when they do what is asked of them. Continuing this through out basic, intermediate and advance obedience you will start to notice the intense focus of your dog. Constantly looking up at you and giving you what we call an “attention heel”. We want the dog to think that you are the most important and fun thing in the room and might miss out on yummy treats or a toy if they don’t pay attention. Building reward history and staying consistent builds up that intensity in your dog and makes training fun and reliable.