2 min read

Yep, you will be giving treats for the rest of your dog’s life.

The question is often raised by someone new to using food reinforcement when living with dogs or training them for lifeskills or any other program.

This is the same as a child who may ask – “do I have to keep saying thank you every time?”




The whole collective of rewards, or reinforcers, serves a purpose of ensuring that the tasks just completed keep getting completed. The task may tolerate a lapse of memory, but you will soon find that door smacked in your face if you stop acknowledging the courtesy offered to you by a stranger, friend or acquaintance.

The rewards for the dog are the same as good manners between people. Good manners are the oil that keeps the societies moving together and avoid a grinding of gears. It is part of living as a community. I am sure we have all experienced that “lack of grease” when the expected manners are absent.

A waiter may well get paid for doing their tasks, and you are paying for this service in the cost of your meal. Thanking the waiter, simply with eye contact and acknowledgement can make all the difference to their thoughtfulness and consideration of your needs as they go about their paid tasks.

A treat, reward, touch of affection will be appreciated by your dog, that although they do get an evening meal, the acknowledgement that their behaviour makes your day to day life easier.

Rewards are paying for a future together, not just for now.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy M vonKoehnen

    GREAT article!! Thanks!


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of yogis, dogs and humans

Connection, as expression of trust, relationship, and finally of the deep attraction, which develops so easily between dogs and their human fellows, stains every single interaction and can be used as a potent reinforcer.

Connection starts with invitation

Connection thrives in the absence of expectations, a precious freedom that fills the space between two beings when there is no agenda, no time limit, no “have to get it done.”

Connection is a dynamic quantity

Connection is a dynamic product of three ingredients: an emotional bond, memory and mental focus.

A deep trust and love for each other

I learnt about connection with my horse Magnum. He was untouchable when he came to us, caught wild, taken to the sales – and ended up with us – because my daughter fell in love with him.

A lesson in connection

At first, it barely made it through the door. But it kept tapping and when I let it in, it had connection written all over it. It surprises me that it is a lesson I need repeated so often.

Feeling comfortable

We take time to train, but how connected are we as their trainer?

What does connection look like?

It comes in many forms. Walking together, sitting quietly together, sharing a mental or physical task. Individuals can be connected without looking at each other; just feeling each other’s presence is perhaps the strongest type of connection. These activities can all be done with or without connection, but with connection they appear fluent.

Connection: A Conversation for Life

In the busy-ness of life connection can be the last thing considered. Living with a dog is about developing a relationship and all successful relationships are based on connection.
So just what is connection and why is it important?

Connection is reinforcing

Dogs will often choose how they maintain their connection with you. This connection, the thread that binds the pack, is an invisible and easily dismissible element. Connection is not black and white, it comes in lots of shades of colour and intensity and it is developed between both recipients.

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