This category of motivators is one that many people overlook but has many useful suggestions that can turn even the most independent or reluctant dog into a keen and willing partner with its owner. By managing the dog's routine so that it gains these environmental motivators the INSTANT it does something correctly, it is possible to harness the dog's enthusiasm for the Life Reward with what it is being taught.
Let us look at the psyche and drives that make up the Dog -
Instincts explains that dogs have different levels of drives and compulsions that dogs find rewarding or stimulating to possess.
Most of these instincts can be satisfied by the dog exploring its environment -
All these senses can be used and revelled in while the dog is out on walks (even with the restrictions of being held by a lead) which is why so many dogs find even the most painful sensations of pulling on their lead bearable as the environmental reward is so worthwhile.
Similarly, by allowing the dog the freedom to explore its environment at the beginning of DOG-GAMES training it is able to use all its senses and is content to work with the owner for motivators that they give instead (such as Food, Toys or Praise) as these are now more interesting and rewarding than the training environment.
All dogs have an extremely strong "survival" drive that makes them want to repeat an action that is of benefit to them. These resources can also be used as very effective motivators -
SLEEP and the ability to relax - dogs are like the rest of the animal kingdom - if given the chance and low enough stress levels they would chose to sleep, rest or relax for the majority of their days and nights - this is why indoor kennels/dog cages are so popular with so many dogs. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles and man-made restraints of time and routine make this simple resource almost impossible for dogs to attain. Too many dogs live in over-stimulating environments (eg dogs having unrestricted access to windows so that they feel compelled to either watch or guard their Pack's territory; humans coming and going all day; the constant background noise of radios, TVs, traffic, humans talking etc; dogs being over-trained with dog sports because the owners use the sessions for their social benefits rather than for the benefit of the dog).
By looking closely at all these aspects of our dogs lives we can often use many of these Life Rewards to help reward our dogs for good behaviour.
The wonderful benefit of using these Life Rewards as motivators is that the dogs see us humans as their protectors and providers, and they then feel able to relax and enjoy these "rewards" because of the effort they made to work for them. The dogs begin to relax and rest more, and pass on the responsibilities of providing these resources to us humans while their long-term stress levels drop dramatically.
This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).
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