What is a life reward? A life reward is anything that your dog wants in their daily life. It could be an activity your dog enjoys doing, access to something they want, or greeting a person, dog or resource. Every dog has a variety of different life rewards, or, as I like to call them, “motivators” and it is your job as the parent figure out what these things are.
Here are some examples of life rewards for one of my dogs: Having a ball thrown, playing tug, having her leash clipped on, opening the front door so she can run in the hallway, opening the lobby door to go for a walk, opening the door to the dog park, getting an invite onto the sofa, being picked up and the list goes on and on….
How to use Life Rewards: Before giving your dog the thing he wants politely ask him to do something for you. It can be anything in his repertoire of behaviors.
For example, let’s use the behavior “Sit.” Every day this week I want you to ask your dog to “Sit” for 5 things that are not food related. Here are some examples:
1. Sit before I open the door. When you approach the front door ask your dog to sit. When his bottom touches the floor say “Good Job” and open the door. The opening of the door is functioning as the treat!
2. Sit before I throw your toy.
3. Sit before I let you into the dog park.
4. Sit before I clip on your leash.
5. Sit before I invite you up on the sofa.
Why Life Rewards are every dog trainer’s secret?
- Life rewards will teach your dog that polite behaviors are his way of communicating, “Please” and that these behaviors make good things happen.
- Life Rewards are great for when you want to fade out the reliance on treats. You reach a stage in training a particular behavior that your dog knows the word that goes along with the behavior (i.e. the cue) and performs the behavior reliably. So, how do you fade out reliance on treats? Life Rewards!
- Using Life Rewards in your daily routine with your dog will teach them that it is important and valuable to listen to you in many different contexts- not only when there is food involved.