Praising your dog is an important part to reinforcing good behavior and a great tool to be used when training your dog to learn new skills or just general rules. It is also a way to show that you care and love your dog by displaying some extra attention.
However, many pet owners turn to using dog food or treats when praising their four-legged friends. And with the concern of obesity growing among dogs, it is important to consider if praising with treats is the right approach to use when it comes to your dog’s overall health.
But on the bright side there are many different ways that you can praise your dog without using food and in most cases your dog will love any of the following options.
What Are The Benefits of Using Non-Food Rewards?
- It will make each reward more valuable as it is something different that your dog will show excitement for each time
- Helps prevent over feeding and helping your dog maintain a healthy weight
- It will allow you to train your dog and/or reward your dog without worrying if you have treats available
- Give you the opportunity to learn more about your pet
1. Play with Your Dog
Praising your dog with playtime is a great alternative to dog treats and comes with many extra benefits. This is because it promotes interaction and bonding time between the both of you. It also provides some form of physical activity to keep your dog in shape and healthy.
Example: Tug-a-war and Frisbee
2. Fun Toys
If your dog has listened to a command correctly give them a fun and/or new toy to play with. A sudden appearance of a toy can be the best form of praise and excitement for your furry loved one.
Chewing toys also come with the benefit of them maintaining optimal dental health.
Example: Chew toy or bone
3. Verbal Praise
Verbal praise may be the most simplistic way to show your dog that they have done something well. Offering kind words like “Good dog” or “Great job” is a natural way to reward dogs for good behavior.
Example: “Good job”
4. Physical Affection
Majority of dogs love when they are hugged, patted or rubbed, which is why physical affection is another technique to praise your dog without treats. However, before choosing this method of praise it is important to know your dog well. This is because depending on your dog he or she may not like to be touched in certain areas.
Example: rubbing of the head
5. A Walk
Dogs love going for walks and having that sense of freedom by letting the fresh air go through their fur. Therefore, if you praise your dog with an extra walk in the park to let him or her take the chance to explore new things is a great alternative to treats. In addition, your dog will get the extra health benefits of staying active along with yourself.
6. Eye Contact
Using eye contact is a powerful way to praise your dog. This is because eye contact for dogs is a natural way for them to get approval for doing something. In addition, eye contact is a natural way of them recognizing that you are pleased of what they have just accomplished.
7. A Massage
Dogs love massages as just as much as we do, which is why it is a great option to choose as a way to praise you dog. It is a great way to calm and relax your dog and also can help release physical tension and anxiety.
However, some dogs do not like massages so it is important to pay attention to their body language. For example, if your dog goes towards you then it is most likely rewarding for them.
8. A Fun Trick
Having a few easy tricks that your dog enjoys is another great option to praise your dog with. For example, a high five is a great choice of a fun trick to praise your dog. However, it is important to keep in mind that this type of praise is not for a dog that is still in its training process.
Creating space is not a common way to praise your dog; however, it is something that they do appreciate and enjoy. For instance, if you have boundaries that block off the kitchen but have seen the good behavior with your dog respecting these rules; you can eliminate these boundaries. This will show them that you have acknowledged their good behavior.
10. Let Them Explore
When you take your dog for a walk most of the times we don’t stop to let out dog explore their surroundings. However, if you want to praise your dog for good behavior then stopping during a walk to let them explore and sniff around is a great way to praise your dog. This is because they will recognize that this action usually does not happen so it is acknowledged that it is a treat for good behavior.
11. Healthy Treats (Bonus praise but technically a food)
When praising your dog it is important to recognize that dog treats are not always a great option as they are unhealthy and can lead your dog gaining unwanted weight. However, you can substitute these treats with healthy ones. But it is always good to remember that moderation is key and too much of anything is unhealthy.
Example: ice cubes and watermelon
The list is just a few of the many ways you can praise your dog without food and unhealthy treats. It is also important to remember that the simplest things like a walk may be the best reward that your four-legged furry loved one would appreciate the most.