Incorporating the use of ‘jackpots’ into your dog training strategies will help to accelerate your dog’s progress. It is simple to do. This is one of a series of articles on how dogs learn and how we can modify their behavior. You may also like ‘How to use reward markers in dog training.’
A jackpot is a super duper, completely unexpected, mega-enormous reward! So, if you usually give a tiny piece of cheese or liver cake, a jackpot might be ten lumps of juicy roast chicken. This might seem excessive, especially if you are partial to chicken yourself. But the effect of random and occasional jackpot rewards is a powerful one.
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The idea is that the jackpot should always be a fantastic surprise. If you give a jackpot every day, it soon stops being a jackpot. Once or twice a week should keep the jackpot special and exciting for the dog.
Keep it hidden
It isn’t an effective jackpot if you have a plastic bag full of sardines in your pocket. Even if you have loosely tied up the bag, your dog probably smells what you have in store. He knows precisely what you are up to. The jackpot must be hidden from your dog’s powerful nose and his eyes. So, you need something well-sealed if you are out and about. Ziplock plastic bags have a good tight seal, but a commercially sealed pouch is even better.
What to use
I use those little sachets or pouches of cat food. These are high protein and highly flavored. Dogs love them. Feeding your dog cat food is not generally a good idea, but a little sachet once a week won’t harm him. Because the sachets are sealed, the contents are not detectable until you open them. Give him the whole thing. It is an exceptional treat.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read ‘A Game of Consequences: How to Win at Dog Training.