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Puppy training is an essential part of owning a dog if you want a well-behaved pet. Using rewards-based training has been recommended by many experts and treats have always been used as one of the main incentives for pups. But what if your pup isn’t motivated by food? Here are 5 puppy training incentives to use when you find that your pup isn’t always motivated by a yummy treat.

Puppy Training Incentives

Puppy Training Incentives

Verbal Praise

Using warm words is a trick that’s the easiest for dogs to pick up and learn. Words of praise can become cues for a job well done and can be very effective when using your “baby voice.”

Whenever your dog follows a command and you reward it with treats, always accompany it with praises like “Good boy/girl” or “Good dog.” Do this early and often and they’ll easily associate those words as a reward in itself.


Some dogs respond well to touch, and physical contact has been proven to be beneficial to dogs and their owners. Petting your dog in the right places releases oxytocin, the happy hormone, and strengthens the bond between you and your pooch.

But before going this route, you need to find out where your dog’s sweet spot is and how they enjoy being touched. Once you figure it all out, give your dog a petting in that area whenever they follow a command.

Attention/Body Language

The first two can fall under this tip, but there’s more to attention than just touch or words. It could be eye contact or using body language. Some dog breeds are clingier than others and will try to get your attention or will always stay by your side. Use this to your advantage and an opportunity for training.

When your dog barks at you and is trying to get your attention, give them a command and give them your attention if they follow. If they fail to do so, turn away and take away your attention. You can consult a professional trainer to learn more about using body language to train and communicate with your dog.

Toys and Play

Every dog loves playtime! And this is a high-value incentive that many dogs understand. Toys like tennis balls and games like fetch and tug of war are fun ways to train your dog. It’s also a good way for them to release energy, and a stress-busting activity for you as well.

Use Space 

Dogs need to learn about boundaries, and they also require their personal space. Use this as one of your puppy training incentives by removing boundaries whenever they do a good job, keeping away from the off-limits area. 

For example, put a fence by the kitchen door if they’re not allowed in. Command them to sit and stay by the door, and once they learn that they can’t enter this space, remove the boundary as a form of reward.


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