Pillar Two: Motivation

If your dog is not motivated to work for you or participate, it will be virtually impossible to train your dog.

If your dog is not motivated to work for you or participate, it will be virtually impossible to train your dog.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the two types of Motivation: positive and negative.

Positive Motivation is anything that increases the likelihood of your dog repeating a behavior in the future.

Conversely, Negative Motivation is anything that your dog finds aversive, thus decreasing the likelihood of them repeating a behavior in the future.

Whether you realize it or not, you have likely used both positive and negative motivation on your dog.

If you want to have the most productive training sessions possible, it is essential to understand which of these three categories creates the most drive in your dog:

  1. Food
  2. Affection
  3. Toys

Inside each category, there are endless specific motivators. Your dog will value each of these particular motivators inside of the categories differently. Once you have identified your dog's primary motivators, you can leverage them to optimize your training. As an example, my dog is more positively motivated by food than affection or toys. However, my dog also places much more value on a piece of steak than a piece of kibble. Therefore, I use food as my dog's primary reward but only use steak during sessions when I need my dog to be highly motivated. Conversely, I negatively Motivate my dog by using sharp verbal corrections.

It is imperative to figure out what is negatively (aversive) motivating to YOUR dog in specific.

Once you understand what your dog is positively and negatively motivated by, you can utilize proper timing to remove certain behaviors and increase others.

So, how well do you know your dog?

  • What are your dog's positive motivators, which is the biggest, which is the smallest?
  • What are your dog's negative motivators, which is the biggest and which is the smallest?