Artwork by Kathleen Riley
Praise is the most important tool you have to train your dog, and
is also the hardest thing for people to remember to use during a
One of the most significant motivators for dogs is praise, but what
is praise? Praise is not a pat on the head or a droning monotone good.
Dogs are too smart for those approaches. Verbal praise should be
heartfelt and sung out in high pitched, happy tones at the exact moment
the dog has succeeded at the task or command. The more exuberant you are
with your properly timed verbal praise, the faster your dog will learn.
Another form of praise that can be more powerful than verbal praise
is physical praise. (The pat on the head does not fit here either.) The
best form of physical praise is whatever your dog likes best. For a
puppy that just learned to lay down on command may want a belly rub.
Since he is successful with the down, by all means rub his little belly.
After he has learned to perform the command consistently, you can
gradually make him work harder for his praise. Other forms of physical
praise that most dogs like are stroking under the chin, stroking the
ears and patting the chest.
If you only remember one thing from dog training, let it be to verbally and physically praise your dog!
Praise your pooch appeared on Minneapolis Dogs Examiner and is used here with permission of the author, Kathleen Riley-Daniels.