How to Use Toys As Rewards in Dog Training

What if “give a dog a bone” doesn’t work when rewarding your pooch? Maybe you’ve discovered that food sometimes doesn’t work during dog training to change the animal’s behavior.

Some canines don’t seem to be food-motivated with items like dog treats. Your pet dog may be experiencing behavioral issues like anxiety.

If so, you can consider non-edible options like natural treatments for dog anxiety or modified yoga poses for dogs known as “doga.”

The Trouble with Treats

Some dogs don’t respond to food treats as a reward. For example, certain adult dogs are more motivated by other things. Meanwhile, young dogs might prefer playtime to jerky treats or dog biscuits, for instance.

Even if your dog likes food rewards, many veterinarians recommend that treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a dog’s diet.

How to Pick a Dog Toy

Toys such as outdoor dog toys can provide alternatives to dog treats when they don’t motivate adult canines, or your puppy wants to play all the time.

Your dog might have a favorite toy, such as a squeaky ball. Nevertheless, to get the best results when training your pet pooch, try using various toys to get the best results.

When picking a pet toy, you should consider which ones your canine likes to play with. If you’re unsure about this issue, you can do a toy test to determine which ones your pet prefers.

You can sometimes find multi-purpose uses for certain toys. For example, consider a plush dog toy. It can have various functions, such as a tug toy.

Here are some of the most quintessential issues to consider when picking a dog toy for training:

Toy’s Durability – Try to pick a hard-to-destroy toy that’s made from strong materials like rubber or nylon.

Toy’s Size - Make sure the toy isn’t tiny enough for the dog to swallow. It would also help if you avoided big toys for tiny dogs. 

Dog’s Age - Consider soft toys for puppies and seniors and hard toys for adult dogs.

Dog’s Personality – If your canine likes to chew, then avoid soft toys. Don’t buy loud and squeaky toys if they make your doggy anxious.

How to Use Dog Toys for Training

These are some efficient tips and tricks you can implement when using dog toys to train your pet:

Buy New Toys for Training

There will be times your dog will want to grab a toy and play with it anytime they’re bored. Hide the new toys until the next training session.

The reason is that your canine companion will perceive the toys as new and exciting play rewards. They’ll have more value as new toys.

Use the “Drop It” Cue Consistently

Make sure to practice this cue when playing with your dog using pet play accessories, like a squeaky toy.

When playing tug-of-war, your dog needs to know when it’s time to drop the toy. This practice can boost your pooch’s self-control.

Use a Clicker as a Cue

This option makes the clicker a cue that you’ll be rewarding your pet with a toy. It’s the “mark and reward” method of positive reinforcement. It would help if you clicked at the right time to reward your pet each time you click. 

Use Toys in Short Intervals

One of the goals when using a reward system with toys, for example, is to stay effective. In dog training, the goal of positive reinforcement, like toys, is to achieve certain behaviors.

One approach is to minimize playtime to 3 or 4 seconds whether you’re playing toy tug or fetch with a ball or Frisbee.

After the training session, hide the toy under your arm, in your pocket, or behind your back. Then ask your precious pooch to repeat the behavior. 

Dog Training Mistakes to Avoid         

When training dogs with toys, here are some of the main mistakes to avoid to get the best results:

Practicing Ineffective Repetition

Don’t expect a completely different result if you keep using the same ineffective training. If one training method isn’t working, then try a different one.

If a particular dog toy isn’t exhibiting behavior changes, then consider trying another toy.

 Not Clearly Defining “Poisoning Cues”

This phenomenon happens when your pet associates a cue you give with something negative. Suppose your dog hates baths and you motioned for them to come to you. Using this gesture during bath time will result in your pet associating the cue “come” with a negative feeling.

Falling Into the Trap of “Command Nagging”

This practice involves the dog trainer repeating a cue when the canine doesn’t respond. The problem is that your dog believes they don’t have to pay attention to you until you repeat the cue several times.

Not Practicing between Training Classes

As the old saying reveals, “Practice makes perfect.” Do you want to alter your dog’s behavior drastically? If so, then a dog training class once a week probably won’t be enough.

Try using the doggy toys every day with your pet. By doing so, they would be done with their homework and more than ready for the next training class.


Fay Smith worked in communications for five years before settling down with her husband. As an advocate of all things natural, she tried CBD when friends recommended it for common aches and pain.


1. How many treats can your dog really have?

2. Clicker training -

3. Positive reinforcement training -


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