Toy-Motivated TrainingPublished May 26, 2011
Victoria Schade: Do Not Reproduce
Quincy, pictured above, enjoyed the treats we used during training, and responded beautifully to each exercise. During a break his people mentioned in passing that he really loves balls. “Hmm,” I thought. “Maybe we can integrate his love of balls into our training.” Little did I know that I was about to unleash the beast.
I found an appealing ball and hid it behind my back, then asked Quincy to do a simple “down.” As soon as he settled into position I showed him the ball and tossed it across the room. He retrieved it in an instant and came back for more, smiling and dancing. Quincy was a willing student when we were using food as a reward, but the change in his demeanor when using a ball was all I needed to see. He wasn’t just willing to work, he was electrified … quivering, panting – just waiting for his next chance to earn a chance to chase the ball!
If your dog is toy-motivated, play training is and fun way to switch up your routine. Granted, it’s more cumbersome than using treats, since it’s not as easy to “pocket” a ball or tug toy, (You don’t want to be too obvious about showing your dog the reward, as that can turn into a bribe!) and it’s not as quick as handing over a quickly consumed treat. But for dogs like Quincy, it’s a sure-thing for some amazing responsiveness!