pexels photo 14058861
pexels photo 14058861

How to Train Dogs Who Don’t Like Treats or Toys

Hey there, dog owners! I’m Alex, and today we’re going to talk about how to train a dog who doesn’t like treats or toys. It’s common for some dogs to be less motivated by the usual training incentives, so don’t worry – there are still plenty of effective methods you can use to teach your furry friend new tricks.

Understanding why some dogs don’t like treats or toys

First, it’s essential to figure out what motivates your dog. Some dogs are more motivated by attention, praise, or physical touch than by treats or toys. Once you’ve identified what your dog finds rewarding, you can use that to your advantage in your training.
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to train a dog who doesn’t like treats or toys. This means rewarding your dog for good behavior with something they enjoy, whether it’s attention, praise, or a scratch behind the ears. For example, if your dog is responsive to your voice, you can praise them when they perform a command correctly. You might say “Good boy!” in a cheerful tone or give them a belly rub as a reward.

It’s also important to be consistent with your training. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability, so it’s crucial to establish a consistent schedule for training sessions. Try to train your dog at the same time every day and use the same commands and rewards every time. This will help your dog understand what’s expected of them and make the training process more efficient.

Clicker Training – Not a Treat or Toy

Another method that can work well with dogs who aren’t motivated by treats or toys is clicker training. Clicker training involves using a clicker to mark the exact moment your dog performs a desired behavior, followed by a reward. The clicker acts as a marker that signals to your dog that they’ve done something right and a prize is coming. The reward doesn’t have to be food or a toy – it could be a pat on the head, a game of tug-of-war, or even a quick game of fetch.
One important thing to remember with clicker training is that timing is critical. The click needs to come immediately after your dog performs the desired behavior, and the reward needs to follow quickly after the click. With practice, you’ll be able to get the timing just right, and your dog will learn quickly and happily.


If your dog is particularly social and responsive to human interaction, try training them using shaping. Shaping involves breaking a desired behavior into small steps and gradually building up to the final behavior. For example, if you wanted to train your dog to jump over a hurdle, you would reward them for approaching the hurdle, sniffing it, stepping over it, and so on, until they jump over it confidently. Shaping can be a fun and rewarding training method for you and your dog.

dog sleeping on blue folding chair after training session
Break time! – Photo by Sean P. Twomey on

Finally, it’s important to remember that not all dogs are motivated by the same things. Some dogs aren’t very interested in training, and that’s okay. If you’re struggling to find a method that works with your dog, it might be worth seeking out the help of a professional dog trainer. A professional trainer can assess your dog’s behavior and personality and help you develop a customized training plan tailored to your dog’s needs.

Patience and consistency: the keys to successful dog training without treats or toys.

Remember to be patient and persistent with your training, and keep going even if your dog responds immediately. Dogs learn at their own pace, and it’s important to celebrate each small success along the way. With a bit of time and effort, you and your dog can build a strong bond and enjoy the benefits of a well-trained, well-behaved pup. In addition to training techniques, you can do other things to help motivate your dog and make the training process more enjoyable. For example, try to keep training sessions short and engaging, and ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. A tired, happy dog is more receptive to training and less likely to get bored or frustrated.


In summary, training a dog who doesn’t like treats or toys can be challenging, but it’s possible with the right approach and a little patience. By identifying what motivates your dog, using positive reinforcement methods, and seeking help from a professional if needed, you can help your furry friend learn new skills and behaviors. Remember to keep training sessions fun and to engage and celebrate each small success along the way. With a little effort and a lot of love, you and your dog can build a solid and happy relationship based on trust and mutual respect. I hope this helped give you some ideas on how to train dogs without treats or toys.

Visit the American Kennel Club to learn more about positive reinforcement training and read our thoughts on West Paw toys!