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We want training to be fun and engaging for both the handler and the dog. Why? Because then both enjoy the training and a bond is created. It becomes their special time.
Now, think about this. You are told to do your work tasks but after they are completed you get nothing. Not a thank you, not a paycheck, nothing. No acknowledgement at all. How would you feel? Would you want to learn new tasks? Would you want to go to work the next day?
This is why we use paychecks, or rewards, when teaching new behaviors to our dogs. Higher value initially and then phasing those out to utilize more life rewards. When teaching sit they get a treat or toy, whatever they will work for. Once they are sitting routinely on cue we phase those out and use praise, petting, letting them snuggle, their dinner, going outside. They still get a “paycheck” but it is based on life rather than treats.
This doesn’t mean treats should not be used anymore. We all like that bonus the boss gives us for doing our job well, so do dogs. Spend some time doing a little training refresher, bring out the every day treats (or even kibble) and alternate between praise and treats. This helps keep it fresh in their minds and they really do enjoy your attention. It means more to them than the treats do, believe me.
Be sure to end every session with something fun. Big praise and petting, a little time with a toy or ball, a romp outside. This helps cement the training, helping to retain it. It also helps cement your bond, making him want to do and learn more.