How to Select the Right Training Reward for Your Dog

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How to Select the Right Training Reward for Your Dog

Dogs and humans have had a closely knit relationship for hundreds and hundreds of years now. Raising and training a dog can be an immensely satisfying and rewarding experience, resulting in an amiable and lovable companion and friend. However, training a dog is a difficult task, and the dog’s entire personality and behaviour is at stake. Rewarding your dog for good behaviour is universally acknowledged to be an excellent way of training it. Knowing which reward to use can be difficult.

It is the intention of this guide to inform the reader about the best kind of rewards to give their dog in the training process to produce the best results, so that they can make an informed choice. Further, this guide will examine why eBay, the renowned auctioning website, is the ideal place in which to shop for dog training rewards.

The Basics of Reward Training

Training a dog is a process which requires an understanding of a few very basic psychological ideas. Training a dog can also be referred to as behavioural conditioning. The basic idea behind this is that when a dog experiences a sensation, it learns to associate that sensation with the circumstances around it at that moment, and with what it was involved in doing.

Using this concept, a trainer can condition a dog to perform behaviours which the trainer deems “good”. For instance, if a dog owner wanted their dog to learn how to sit, they would first show the dog how to sit, along with the command “sit”. When the dog responds to the “sit” command in the correct fashion, the trainer would then give the dog a reward, consisting of something which gives the dog a pleasurable sensation. The dog then begins to associate sitting on command with being rewarded, and will be more likely to repeat the behaviour in future.

Now that the fundamentals have been covered, the next question arises: What kind of reward should be given to the dog? This is a subjective matter; different dogs have different preferences. The three main types of reward are as follows:

  • Food
  • Toys
  • Positive body language

The next section of this guide is designed to give detailed information about each of the aforementioned kind of training reward, as well as give an example of how to decide which of them is the right choice for your dog.

Types of Training Reward

Before looking in more detail at the different kinds of reward, it is a good idea to determine exactly which kind of reward a dog prefers. There is a simple method which can be applied, which should give the owner all the information they need.

Before beginning, you will need:

  • Two friends or relatives to help
  • A toy (i.e. a tennis ball)
  • Some food

Give one of the helpers the tennis ball, and one of them the food. Get them to stand apart from each other. Then, stand apart from them. Release the dog. The objective for the owner and the two assistants is to make the dog come to them. The owner will have to convince the dog using nothing but their voice and body language.

The dog will go to one of the three parties. Which person the dog goes to should serve as an indicator of which kind of training reward to use. If the dog goes to the friend with the toy, toys should be used to train it. If the dog goes to the one with the food (as is most often the case); then treats should be used to train it. If it goes to the owner, then neither of these is required to train the dog. However, even in this case, toys and treats can be helpful in the training process.

The following sections will detail how to train a dog with each of the aforementioned type of reward, as well as what to look for when choosing and buying those rewards.

Food

Using food based treats is by far the most common form of reward training. The principle is simple: give the dog a treat when it behaves in the desired way, and withhold the treat when it does not. There are many different kinds of dog treats available today, and the overwhelming majority of these can be found on eBay. Below is a list of the most common kinds of treat, with information about their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Dog Biscuitsdog biscuits are crunchy, snack-like pieces of food. They are brittle and easy for a dog to eat quickly, and are widely used for training purposes. Many dogs enjoy dog biscuits greatly. Often, dog biscuits are relatively large, and so it is advisable to either use smallish ones, or to break them up into smaller chunks, so that the dog does not forget what it is being rewarded for.
  • Dental Chewsdental chews consist of relatively large portions of chewable material. They are very good for a dog’s oral hygiene and jaw strength, although they are at a disadvantage over other treats due to the amount of time it takes for the dog to eat them (this can be detrimental to the training). As such, they are often better for keeping a dog busy whilst doing something else. There are many kinds of chewy foods available to dog owners, including dried pig’s ears, rawhide wraps and twists, and chew sticks
  • Drops/bites – These are the optimal form of food based training reward. Often they will just be miniature, button-sized biscuits. However, eBay sports a large range of both mass-marketed and home-made dog drops, usually made from liver or chicken (both of which dogs particularly like). Their small size means that the dog can eat them fast, and thus is more likely to associate the pleasant sensation of eating the treat with the correct behaviour intended.

This represents only a small selection of the many various kinds of dog treats available. It is a good idea to try numerous types, in order to determine which kinds the dog reacts best to.

Toys

There are incredible amounts of toys available for dogs, most of which can be found on eBay. Using toys to train a dog can be a tricky matter. Good behaviour from the dog must illicit use of the toy, whereas bad behaviour must cause the toy to be withheld. Which sort of toy to use depends heavily on both the dogs and owners personal preferences, but there are some which are better than others.

Some toys require throwing. These, whilst fun and involving for the owner, are better used for pure leisure than training. This is because when a toy is thrown away from the owner, it is subconsciously encouraging the dog to go and play by itself. The owner is only required to throw the toy, and the amount of time taken can make the dog forget what specific behaviour is being encouraged (dogs have very short attention spans). As such, thrown toys are better used as an end in their own right than as a means of training.

Held toys are the best kind for training. They can be held at one end by the owner, whilst the dog enjoys chewing or playing with the toy, then withdrawn after a short amount of time, so that the owner can illicit more desired behaviours. Further, the dog is getting an instantaneous reward for good behaviour, which makes the behavioural conditioning more effective.

Body Language

Using body language alone will often be insufficient to train a dog effectively. However, if your dog is one of the few that reacts best to pure body language, training it becomes a simple matter of providing affection and attention in response to good behaviours, and withdrawing that affection and attention in response to bad behaviours.

How to Buy Training Rewards for Your Dog on eBay

eBay, the popular auctioning site, is an excellent place to shop for training rewards. It has a tremendous selection of treats and toys, and is carefully designed to be quick and easy to use.

Arriving at the desired area of the website is a straightforward affair. To begin, access the eBay homepage. From there, there will be a list of main categories in the left margin of the page. Select Home & Garden from that list. This will open a new list, from which Pet Supplies, followed by Dogs, should be selected. The Food/Treats and Toys sections can be located in the list of sub-categories found in the left margin of this page. Alternatively, the search bar allows for instantaneous navigation of the website.

Once the items listed fit the desired requirements, the search can be narrowed using several filtering options (also found on the left of the page), namely condition, price and seller’s location. If the seller is near enough, collection is an alternative option to delivery. The “buy it now” option lists only products which can be bought on-the-spot, whereas the “auction” option allows the user to bid on the desired products.

All listed items also have an individual page, which can be accessed by clicking on the item’s thumbnail in the listings. This page will feature additional details about the product, as well as seller’s information, including ratings and feedback from other users, allowing the buyer to choose using other’s previous experience.

The various features of eBay, combined with its impressive selection, combine to make it a convenient, unique and potent tool for shopping for dog training rewards online.

Conclusion

Training a dog can be an unparalleled experience in terms of the rewards and benefits. However, it is not an easy process. Determining which kind of training reward is best suited for your dog is a demanding process.

This guide set out with the intention of clarifying the advantages and disadvantages of the various types. Remember the method for determining your dog’s preference, and that eBay is an exceptional place for acquiring the relevant treats.

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