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High Value vs Low Value Rewards

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

One of the things we put an emphasis on here at Unleashed Joy is using high value rewards, but why? Let’s take the example of counter conditioning to explain.

Let’s say you had a fear of spiders, and I offered you 1 dollar to look at a spider. You might do it, especially if you were a dollar short for your lunch money, but you probably wouldn’t be happy doing it, and it wouldn’t make you want to look at spiders. Your emotional response to spiders would not change. 

Now let’s say I offered you 20 dollars to look at a spider. Okay, that might get your interest. For 20 dollars a glance you might start wanting to look at that spider as much as possible to see how many 20s you could get.

What if I paid you 100 dollars for looking at the spider? Depending on the level of fear you had when you started, you might start looking for spiders to point out to me and saying “Oh look, there’s a spider, and I’m being calm, you should give me 100 dollars now.”  You might even start digging under rocks to find spiders. 

With 20s and 100s your emotional responses change, and that’s what we look for with counter conditioning. 

Using kibble as treats is like giving your dog a 1 dollar bill, it’s nice, especially if he’s hungry, but you’re not going to get the reaction you would if you used higher value rewards. Using meatballs or hotdogs or whatever is your dog’s favorite is like giving your dog 20s and 100s, it gets his attention and it changes his feelings about a subject.

Examples of high value rewards include

  1. Meatballs ( you can buy them frozen and just break off a small piece to use at a time)

  2. Hot dogs

  3. Cheese

  4. Liver (I like the freeze dried stuff)

  5. Deli meat

  6. Meat rolls

  7. And many more, but remember, it varies dog to dog!

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