Many times, I hear, “my dog works great as long as I have treats” or “my dog knows when I have treats and will not work with the same enthusiasm.”
One of my SECRETS, and a skill that is a must for all trainers, is the ability to play one on one with your dog. Play in this context means, interacting with your dog WITHOUT any toys or treats present.
The one-on-one connection and fun are one of the best ways to reward your dog. Examples can be anything from petting and praising your dog, or running around laughing, or using transition games that your dog loves, or clapping your hands and praising your dog, or getting down on the floor and rolling around with your dog. Hahahaha. Actually, I do get on the ground to play with my puppies, not so much with my older dogs, BUT I do often interact with my older dogs, so they are used to having fun with me without toys or treats present. Use one or any combination. Have FUN with your dog!
The key to having a dog that will work for you, and not the reward, is as simple as playing with your dog!