Motivation in dog agility is key. There are some dogs who are motivated to learn with the use of food, other with toys. But what about those few dogs who are not motivated by either one?
Well you’ve got your work cut out for you in finding what motivates your dog. You see lately I’ve had this huge struggle with Riley. So much so a couple of weeks ago my agility coach had heart to heart with me about Riley’s future in agility. We will leave that discussion for a later time.
So if you have a dog that doesn’t respond to toys and treats what are you supposed to do? Well in Riley’s case that motivation comes from praise, rubs and love. Oh my goodness, I wish I had a video to demonstrate this one for you with her, but rubs on her rump and lots of praise seem to bring that little fire out in her!
But just as love and praise can motivate her, the tone of my voice and how i carry my body can also have an effect on her motivation and drive. I discovered this a few weeks back when we were practicing serpentines. When we practice you will never hear me say No (more about that tomorrow), but I said “Awww….” and shrugged my shoulders when she missed one of the jumps. Those two things combined had a seriously devastating effect on her motivation. Immediately she just shut down and lost all her spunk to continue jumping… yes some dogs can be that sensitive. So we had to take a little time out and fill it with love and praise until I got her kick started again.
So now, before every practice we begin with a play session filled with love and praise. Now don’t think I never have toys or treats with us when we practice. With each practice you will find me with a back full of treats and her favorite Chuck-it Toys. I always try to find a way to interact with her and the toys, and teaching her that toys are a form of praise too! It can be done! One of my favorite videos for helping with motivation is Making Reinforcement Fun, a video by Rachel Sanders.
So whatever you do, don’t give up on your dog! If they don’t seem to have the motivation for agility… like anything agility is a fun game that can be taught and loved by your dog.
Today we once again continue our participation in the A to Z Challenge, by celebrating the letter ‘M’ for Motivation in Agility.
Join us tomorrow for “Don’t Use the ‘N’ Word in Agility”.