The Casino Industry Trick For Getting Dogs To OBEY (Without Bribing Them)
Time after time owners will tell me that their dog will not listen to them unless the dog can SEE and SMELL the treat on their human’s body.
This is the easiest way to determine that you are using treats WRONG!
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!
You shouldn’t have to bribe your dog to do anything for you, and if you find that you are having to do so, you don’t understand the concept of positive reward and reinforcement and clicker training!
The Difference (especially when starting with puppies)
Bribery is a dirty word.
Bribing a police officer and bribing a judge along with other officials is illegal.
Definition of bribe by Merriam Webster https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bribe
1: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust <police officers accused of taking bribes>
2: something that serves to induce or influence <offered the kid a bribe to finish his homework>
Let’s face it; bribes work but they aren’t the most effective way to influence behavior if you don’t want to or aren’t willing to continue the bribe.
They also don’t work well if your subject is more interested in something else than whatever you are using to bribe.
Positive Reinforcement and Reliable Behavior is a Mind Game
It is true, positive reinforcement and playing the game correctly in order to motivate your dog to listen to you no matter what is a bit of a psychological mind game.
YOU have to be better at the game than your dog is, all while tricking him into thinking he controls you and your rewards!
First, let’s review the jackpot theory.
This theory is also the same reason we gamble.
In the beginning in order to shape behavior, we must reward successful accomplishment of the behavior each time in order for the dog to learn. And for a great video series that shows you how to shape behavior, click here.
For example: if I am teaching my puppy to lay down, I will either lure the puppy into a down and reward each time the elbows hit the ground until the behavior is reliable.
Or I will wait for the puppy to lie down on his own and then I will mark and reward that behavior each time, until the behavior is understood and reliable (this is the stronger way to train, by the way, because the puppy is not waiting for your lure). Then I can name the behavior “down” etc and begin to ask for it on command.
Once a dog knows a behavior it is critical that you back off on the rewards and utilize the jackpot theory.
The jackpot theory follows the intentions of a slot machine. Sometimes there is no reward (you put in a few quarters and get nothing back.)
Sometimes there is a small reward (you put a quarter in the slot and get a dollar back).
And, sometimes you hit the jackpot (you put a quarter in the slot and get $20 or more back.)
The reason you stay and “gamble” is because you know that it is possible that you might HIT THE JACKPOT.
If you get nominal or no reward, you aren’t going to gamble.
Your dog is the same way.
If he doesn’t get many, or any rewards or if he is not in the mood for what you are offering, or if what he is doing is better than what you are offering, he isn’t going to comply with your commands.
What is a Dog Jackpot
For us humans, a jackpot is most often thought of as money. However it can be anything you want.
For a dog, a jackpot is something substantial that he wants.
For instance, when I am teaching my dog a new cue I might train with small pieces of cheese. A jackpot would then be a bigger or more substantial amount of cheese or something even better; like boiled chicken.
I like to use better rewards as my jackpot to make it worth my dog’s while.
If I am using toys as a reward, a jackpot is a longer game or fetch or tug.
Jackpots are the reason my dog wants to “gamble” and listen to me over doing whatever it was he was doing. It is worth it to him if he can score some chicken.
It is also important, that once he learns his commands or cues that I don’t reward him all of the time. Constant reward is boring.
It is more exciting if he doesn’t know when he will be rewarded. The anticipation of reward is exciting and builds his drive for the game of listening to me.
And, if you play this game often enough his automatic response will be to listen to you.
You are actually creating a HABIT of listening instead of the habit of ignoring you.
One More Thing
Once you have gotten these things down and you have gotten pretty use to carrying treats around with you for a while it is crucial to move on to the last aspect of this training.
Teach your dog that YOU KNOW WHERE THE TREATS ARE AND ARE WILLING TO GET THEM FOR HIM.
I don’t do this early on in training because I want to have treats available so that I can reward learning behavior.
But eventually my dog understands the clicker and the idea of listening and being rewarded and my rewards don’t have to come immediately following a behavior.
It is at this point I click or mark the behavior and then very dramatically go to the refrigerator or where the treats are located.
I clap and I praise the dog the entire way so that the process is rewarding. I want to keep him engaged.
I also want him to know that when he listens and complies to my commands that I can go and get him a jackpot.
This keeps him from only listening if I have rewards on my body!
If you follow these rules; you will have a dog that willingly complies to your commands, treats or no treats!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.