A couple of days ago, Peanut’s human asked, “I wanted to teach Peanuts to do the retrieve and her dropping the ball in front me or on my hand but she doesn't. Is it possible to do so without the treats? Or do I have to bribe her with it.”
Let me ask y’all something, when you go to work do you get paid? When you do laundry, why do you do it? Wash dishes?
Why do I do something? Money means nothing to me. What does matter? What makes me feel good? What makes Peanuts feel good?
Anytime we are learning a new behavior, it is important that we are paid in something that we really, really like. Some dogs love cheese or pieces of hot dog. With my food allergies I had to stick to special treats of pieces of kibble. Whatever payment you choose, make sure it is something your dog values. We need food to survive and value food, but make the choice of reward something very special.
My Human likes me to pick up things, bring them to her and hand them to her. If I drop it on the ground, or floor, she tells me to “hand it”.
Once you have a happy pup returning every time and dropping or handing you the ball or bumper, it is okay to use verbal praise intermittently. The entire point is for the retrieve to be fun for both you and your dog.
That said, remember if we want to do something, if we offer you a behavior and get rewarded you will have an easy job of teaching us what you want and we will give a reliable response when you ask us. So, if you have a retriever it isn’t difficult to teach us to bring things.
Man bred different dogs for different purposes. To keep a happy dog, think about the job they are bred to do. This is the dogs drive, their skill. It’s just like you humans. Some of y’all can play musical instruments, some sing, some are good at what you call mathematics. We dogs are the same way. We are happiest when our drive is satisfied.
Remember, you don’t work for free and neither should we! There is something that motivates everyone, man or beast.
Y’all come back now!