Creating a reward based experience

The other day I read online that a reward has more impact if you create an experience around the delivery of the reward. With regard to dog training this made sense to me as it increases anticipation and prolongs a positive experience.

For the last couple of weeks i have been trying something new with Wiley. When he does something right I have stopped just giving him brief verbal praise followed quickly by a small food treat.

Now I mark the correct behaviour with a enthusiastic yes, then I follow it up with the question ‘was that treat worthy?’, said in a happy excited voice. This always gets a positive response from Wiley as he knows if he hears the treat word he is going to get something to eat.

I stop walking, bend down to Wiley’s level and slowly remove a treat from my pouch which I always carry on my belt. By this time I have Wiley’s full attention, his excitement is palpable. I will then put the treat between my finger tips and he will ever so slowly and delicately take the food while I reinforce his reward with more praise.

This takes more time and thought than just shoveling a small treat into his mouth but both Wiley and I enjoy savoring the moment. I think it is a better reinforcer than using food alone and I have noticed Wiley takes the treat with a lot more thoughtfulness.

There are times when a treat delivered quickly without any fanfare is a great option. However I will regularly continue to create an experience around delivery of Wiley’s food reward as I am convinced it has a bigger impact and it makes me feel good too 🙂

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