TIP #1: REINFORCEMENT PAY SCALE
The amount and quality of the reward have direct effects on behavior. Animals work harder for larger or more tasty rewards. Also, if given a choice, animals prefer several small bits of food to one big bit of food, even if they both add up to the same amount. This is because the act of engaging in eating is itself very rewarding.
Don't forget alternative forms of “pay”, like:
- Life rewards (going outside, meals, walk/run, critter chasing)
Depending on the individual dog these may rank low, high, or somewhere in between on the pay scale.
TIP #2: CHOOSE YOUR DOG'S FOOD ON FACT, NOT EMOTION
Dog food marketing campaigns that are based upon emotions are not inherently misleading or false. However, when an advertising campaign relies only on the emotions that it elicits to convince us that the product is healthful for our dogs (and superior to its competitor), they neglect to provide the actual evidence for why we should believe this to be true. And, of course, your emotional reaction to the advertisement does not necessarily have any bearing on the truth or falsity of the nutritional claims that are being made for that food. Marketing strategies that rely principally upon evoking the "Awww" response are hoping that consumers are so overcome with soppiness that we neglect to examine the actual merits of the food.
The bottom line is that almost all effective advertisements appeal to our emotions in some fashion or another. Just be aware that this is occurring, that it is intentional and designed to sell food to you, and often has no bearing whatsoever upon the quality of the dog food that is being promoted.
- excerpted from Dog Food Logic
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI