You should never limit your motivational tool box to food rewards.
While we use a significant number of training treats in our classes we encourage all owners to think outside the box. You will have far more reliable behaviors if you learn to utilize the other rewards that already exist in your dog’s daily life.
First let’s consider what is a reward to your dog.
Does your dog get excited when you pick up your keys to go for a car ride? Does your dog get excited when you walk towards the cabinet which holds his food? Does your dog go bananas when you pick up the leash?
If your dog is becoming excited for something consider this a reward. Your dog obviously finds it incredibly enjoyable and it’s a great opportunity to start to build some manners.
Make a list of all of the things your dog gets excited for whether it’s being invited onto the couch, being handed it’s favorite toy or just having a leash snapped on to his collar these are all opportunities for rewarding your dog utilizing something other than a food reward.
How to teach your dog to say please by sitting.
When you pick up the leash and your dog becomes very excited roll the leash up in your hand so none of it is dangling (if it’s dangling your dog may choose to bite at it) and wait. Your dog will probably offer the same behavior that’s worked for him for the last year or the last 6 months which may be spinning around in circles barking or even jumping on you.
I want you to ignore all that, so don’t try this exercise if you are in a hurry. It may seem counterproductive but allowing your dog to cycle through those behaviors. That will allow him to problem-solve and learn what behaviors do not work to get the leash put on.
Eventually your dog will offer a, behavior that is calmer.
If your dog was previously jumping on you and biting at the leash then you’re calmer Behavior might be standing and pausing for a second. If your dog was previously just spinning in circles without making any physical contact your, behavior might be a sit.
The moment you get the behavior that you’re happy with say “yes” and snap the leash to your dog’s collar. After a week of this your dog will automatically choose the behavior that gets him his reward having the leash placed on him the fastest.
You will be surprised by how little your dog now have to cycle through the other behaviors that formally earned him the reward of having a leash put on.
Remember you get what you reward.