50+ Training Rewards

“A behavior followed by something the dog likes results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future.”

This is the theory of positive reinforcement through operant conditioning by B.F. Skinner

When most people think of training, they think of giving their dog food treats for something done right. But that's not the only way to reward! A reward is anything the dog likes.

The opportunity to play, fetch, wrestle, cuddle, or the other things listed below, are actually more rewarding than food to some dogs but we didn't forget the variety of yummy treats either.

Get creative and discover what your dog really likes! Variety and fresh new ideas keep training fun and practical! If using food, make a “trail mix” of your dog’s favorites.

Yummy Food Rewards
Food is a great way to motivate your dog to do a difficult behavior or when they are just first learning. Choose treats that are soft, smelly and small. The smell attracts them to taste, the small size keep them from getting full to quickly, and the soft texture is easy to swallow without leaving crumbs to distract during training. But remember, the best training treat is the one your dog absolutely loves.

* If your dog is prone to gaining weight keep training treats less than 10% of the diet or feed your dog less food.

Hot dogs, chopped

Cheerios and other plain cereals

Freeze dried liver pieces

Crumbled ground beef or ground turkey

Pounce cat treats

String cheese

Sliced Apples

Left over steak/meat pieces

Left over pizza crusts

Hard boiled eggs

Carrot shreds


Trout pellets

Rabbit pellets

Corn Nuts

Wheat Thins or unsalted crackers


Cheese Whiz

French fries low in grease

Ice cubes- also good to play with!

Bread crust


Rice balls

Pureed liver (on a spoon)

Canned cat food (on a spoon)

Broken fortune cookie pieces

Cooked pasta (Many forms)

Dry cat food (extra tasty dry treat)


Non-Food Items
Play with your dog with his favorite toys as a reward for a job well done. By asking your dog to do a behavior before he plays, you are not only training him, but giving him a job to do. Always supervise your dog when playing with toys. Toys excite dogs when they make noise or fast movements.

Tennis balls or ball on a string

Kongs (alone or stuffed with food, try it frozen!)

Rope tugs

Tugs made of firehose or jute



Boat bumpers

Bicycle tires

Burlap sacks- to play tug with

Bite Tugs

Hockey pucks

Soccer balls


Jolly Ball- horse toy originally

Five gallon buckets- fun to roll and push, remove handles

Carpet rolls

Stuffed animals- with or without squeakers

Boomer Balls- indestructible

Ultra Balls- high bouncing


Rewarding Activities
Allow your dog access to these activities after he completes a job well done! By asking your dog to do a behavior before he plays, you are not only training him, but giving him a job to do in his life.


Digging in a sand pit

Tearing up a cardboard box- great fun, except for the clean up!


Playing chase

Chewing a rawhide

Get in the kennel

Get out of the kennel

Go into the house

Go out of the house

Go through a door, up stairs

Get into car

Go out of the car

Eat dinner from bowl

Fight the water hose, sprinkler

Belly rub

Back scratch , brushing

Springpole play


Clapping or applause

Play with other dogs

Play with the cats

Play with the kids

Jumping up on you or other objects

Chase the laser spot

Tracking a scent


Blow bubbles

Praise from owner, high pitched voices and smiling
Chasing an radio control car or robotic toy
Chase-its or Lure toys (toy on a sting attached to end of springy stick)
Baby talked to or Barking and howling with owner


What other things do your dogs like? Make a list of 10 and number them in priority of “the most favorite” to the “like, but won’t play with everywhere”. Use the highest valued rewards when your dog is most distracted or having difficulty learning something. Always pay your dog for a job well done with praise, petting and something he likes.