Show me the money!!

by Louise Hart // August 2017

Show me the money!!

Something we often hear when people first bring their dogs to classes is “My dog will only do what I have asked if I have a treat in my hand, otherwise forget it!!” We call these dogs ‘Show Me The Money’ dogs – no treat = no work! These dogs have learnt to work for bribes not rewards. 

A bribe is something offered before the task in order to buy cooperation. The treat is presented before or at the same time as the request is made and is then withheld until the dog performs the task.   Rewards happen only after the request and then performance of the task. The presentation and timing here make the crucial difference.

Any us can be in a hurry or desperate to motivate our dog to do what we want it to do and can resort to bribery, but offering bribes, especially food rewards every time we want to enlist cooperation is likely to backfire. It then becomes built into every request that there must be something in it for the dog; this can lead to a refusal to cooperate unless “You show me the money!”

When we are teaching the dog a new task we may train initially using a method called “lure and reward – this is where we hold a treat near the dogs nose and then lure the dogs body into the desired position as it is follows the treat. In order for this to not become bribery in the long term, we quickly fade out having the treat in the hand to guide the behaviour, usually after a maximum of three repetitions.  How we do this is before we start training we create a special word which through repetition is associated with a reward. We can then use this word to mark when the dog performs the task and will receive the reward afterwards for the job well done.  Whilst this may sound a little technical, in practice it is very simple and in our classes we can guide and support you and your dog to work together cooperatively.

So to avoid the issue of “who is training who?” or to get help to fix the problem you may have with you “Show me the money” dog then book your place on our classes today. You can get hold of us by emailing leedsdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk