Dog training stressing you out? This expert's genius tip is just what you need

Woman training her dog in a meadow at sunset
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's no getting around it — training your dog isn't always a walk in the park! 

Whether it's trying to learn how to stop a dog pulling on a leash or teaching them to sit, heel, or stay, there are always good and bad days when it comes to training.

And while you can certainly enlist the help of a professional trainer, we know that's not always possible or affordable, which is where practical tips for training your dog on your own can come in super useful. 

With that in mind, expert trainer and behaviorist Nikki Mather has shared a post to Instgram with a training tip that has blown our mind. Read on to find out what it is...

According to Mather, in order to set yourself and your dog up for training success you must understand their reward pyramid.

"A reward pyramid outlines everything that a specific dog finds rewarding, placing them into a hierarchy of value," explains Mather.

"For example, ever wondered why your dog loves a biscuit indoors, but doesn’t seem interested whatsoever outside? In this example, outdoor enrichment (smells, for example), are much more valuable to your dog than the biscuit. On your dog’s reward pyramid, biscuits would be beneath outdoor smells.

"Or maybe you throw a tennis ball for your dog to retrieve. Then you reward with cheese once your dog brings the ball back, only to find the dog is no longer interested in the ball because they just want more cheese. Cheese is higher on the reward pyramid than a ball."

In the early stages of training, being acutely aware of your dog's reward pyramid will help you plan out your sessions in a way that enables your dog to easily learn what's expected of them.

Every dog will have a different version of the pyramid Mather shares in her post — some dogs will love high-value food more than anything else, while others would much prefer one of the best dog toys over a tasty treat. 

"What your dog finds the most valuable will also change depending on the environment you’re in," explains Mather.

While each dog is different, figuring out your dog's unique reward pyramid is a great way to go about tailoring your training sessions in a way that sets your pup up for success. 

And if you feel your canine companion would benefit from some extra support (and your budget can stretch to it), seeking out the advice of an expert trainer is well worth considering. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.