Rewards and punishments are two sides of the same coin, the Yin and Yang of education that must exist in perfect balance. For much sugar rots the teeth, and many whips break the soul. Even with rewards, we have to talk about some order, a limit, because at the end of the day, living only in praise has never benefited anyone.
In general, 5 concepts can be understood as a reward for a vlcak, depending not only on the individual nature of the animal, but also on what the owner teaches it from the beginning - word/intonation, clicker, treat, toy and touch.
The principle of rewards is to effectively induce an influx of endorphins in the dog's brain, which will ensure a better association of a correctly performed action with a pleasant feeling. We can use multiple ways to achieve this at the same time, but it is important to always remember the rule that the reward must take place within 1-2 seconds after a correctly performed task. At the same time, however, we must ensure that the reward is granted only and only if the command/task is fulfilled in full, not partially or only with a hint. Therefore, if we recall a dog from a greater distance, we must not start praising it while it is still walking in our direction. In this way, the dog could only associate the direction with a task well done, not that it should really come to us, and since there is therefore no specified goal or duration of the command, thanks to the ongoing praise, it can consider the task accomplished and thus at most it will approach us, not come to us.
WORD / INTONATION
A voice reward, or rather a combination of words and intonation, will probably be the most natural way to reward a dog for us, often in combination with touch. Paradoxically, it can also be the most difficult way to learn to praise a dog correctly, because since we are communicative creatures, we sometimes tend to praise the dog through so-called conversation, for example "Jack, you are such a good dog, you know you are a champ, good boy!". But depending on which words the dog is used to, it can only understand "Jack blah blah blah good dog blah blah blah blah good boy!" - so somewhere in that long sentence it recognizes some words (actually it reacts to the first few sounds of his name anyway, not to its entire variant; that's why dogs understand various diminutives, if the beginning remains phonetically the same as the name to which it is accustomed), it notices the word "good", but in the rush of other sounds it does not recognize and with the stimulus of e.g. a scratching on the head, it no longer has a chance to extract out of that complex perception a very simple information, which is "Jack good", that is, that Jack did something well, even though our intonation tells him that we are pleased. Most of the time, the dog is happy because we are happy, not because it clearly understood that it did something right.
For this reason, it is much more effective to get used to ideally one word to use as a reward. Whether it's just "good" or "nice", short, punchy words like "Yep!" can be used in training to replace the speed of a clicker. With this combined association using word and a treat, it ensures that the dog will not be dependent only on treats and you will then avoid the case that you forget to take the treats with you and you will be stuck with a disobedient dog because you do not have a suitable bribe.
Hand in hand with the word is intonation. In this regard, I am currently aware of two different points of view, which I will outline for you and explain which one I prefer to use.
1) High intonation means undermining your own authority
Some trainers advise not to praise the dog with a higher intonation because it means we submit to the dog. The concept of praise should therefore be based on a word that the dog is used to, or a clicker, initially accompanied by a treat.
2) According to the intonation, the dog should recognize the reaction to the correctness/incorrectness of the executed command
The other part of trainers claims that intonation is a key tool in communicating with a dog. A dog can tell if something is right or wrong just by the height/depth of the voice.
I personally stand behind option No. 2 and I will explain why right away.
While I agree that a high-pitched voice takes away from a person's authority, I personally don't think that being a pack leader (note that I'm not using the misnomer "alpha") is all about being a serious, strict guardian above the heads of the rest all the time, who does not play, is never happy about anything and does not bend their back to anyone.
I know from my own experience that even a male wolfdog with immediate natural authority in a large pack will lie on his back and be devoutly nibbled while playing with females. I don't think that in the years I've been talking to my dogs in a high-pitched voice to get my way I've fundamentally lost my authority; on the contrary, both my females have confidence in me, and I don't think I would have achieved that if they thought they couldn't rely on me and that I wasn't worth it to them. On the contrary, I am sure that they are sure that something is right at that moment, or simply that I am happy, to which they always gratefully join in. These are the moments when we enjoy each other, and it doesn't bother me that I don't have 100% authority at that moment. After all, being able to play together is part of living in a pack.
At the same time, I think this technique can help people who otherwise tend to express themselves rather monotonously. A monotone voice is, especially at the beginning of the puppyhood, a bigger issue than throwing down one's own authority. This is the period when you need to instil as many habits as possible in your puppy, and intonation can be one of the key ways to find common ground. The puppy understands intonation immediately, it begins to "understand" human words later.
Another great weapon in the owner's arsenal is a treat. Here, however, the individual perception of the dog begins to have an effect, because not every dog is motivated by food.
If we do have such an avid eater, it can undoubtedly help with training; using small, softer pieces of food, which the dog can enjoy even more than our own happiness. I write small and softer, because it is necessary for the dog to have it in him as soon as possible, not to be delayed by chewing, or even to have an afternoon snack from it. From a nutritional point of view, it is always necessary to take into account the number of treats when monitoring the feed ration! Although it doesn't seem like it to us and it feels more like the dog inhales tiny crumbs, it is the treat part of his diet that can eventually be the difference between having a dog in athletic condition and having him in a so-called prosperous condition, or rather mildly/moderately overweight.
The principle of giving a treat is the same as for vocal praise – a person should either use a treat bag or a pocket in their clothing to have the treats ready for immediate use after the dog obeys the command. A treat bag can help save clothes from greasy stains, although it becomes a strategic weakness in the presence of other dogs, who can sometimes unnoticeably suck up the contents of the treat bag with one breath or tear it off, the pocket tends to be a little safer in this regard, because the person has it closer to the body, but then again, you need to store the piece of clothing carefully, or some experts may tear a hole in it because they still smell treats inside. But you have to be a few seconds ahead, because you have a natural tendency to praise and only then reach for the treat. This renders any reward ineffective due to the time delay.
The types of treats are up to the individual. Someone cooks liver, heart and spleen, someone dries lungs, someone has pieces of raw meat, someone bakes a so-called "liver bun", someone buys sausages, bacon or cheese, and someone's dog works on dried sardines or cheap Clever meat sticks for dogs. (Again, be careful, don't forget to balance the dog's ration with bones after organ treats, or it will probably have the runnies.) Especially with vlcaks, the path to finding the right treat is sometimes difficult and very winding. Some dogs, on the other hand, may work for several treats, but not for very long, and their owners must have at least 2-4 variants with them, so that they have the opportunity to keep their dog's attention even if it starts to get bored with one type of treat. But most owners already have their own secret tricks by the time the dog reaches adulthood, which more or less always work. Therefore, when looking for suitable treats, be sure to be inspired, but do not take the word of another owner as holy.
Treats that are soft are also suitable for those interested in exhibitions, because the dog does not chew the treat for a long time and does not have leftover food on the molars, which could worsen the evaluation of the teeth. Referees generally don't like it.
Clicker is a tool that I have not tested, so this paragraph will be a little shorter, and first of all, I would like to point out that these are only my observations and not facts, if you can call something that way in connection with the CSW.
The clicker is part of the holy trinity of stimulation aids. It is small, easy to carry, produces a stable sound, so it is all the easier for the dog to build an association. As I was discussing with a friend of mine who uses them, cheaper clickers tend to change the sound of the click after time, and this new sound can either cause it to be misunderstood by sensitive dogs, or not be associated with praise at all. It can be a fluent continuation, or a full replacement, of vocal praise, and even with a clicker it is recommended to combine this method of praise with a treat from the beginning.
Personally, I think that for some it may be more difficult to sort this new way of training out in their heads instead of having to use the voice, because for us the voice is the alpha omega of communication. However, I see an advantage in it in the case of training "faster breeds" (breeds that fulfil commands diametrically faster than a vlcak can), because it gives the owner room for a faster pace of commands in general.
The choice of clicker is individually up to each owner. Even though the clicker was part of the care package for the first litter, due to its non-use it will no longer be purchased for other puppies and the purchase will therefore be directly up to the individual owner.
There are breeds and there are dogs that can be strongly attached to a toy. In the case of the right association and regulated exposure to the given toy, it can also become a sufficiently strong reward. But it is necessary for the dog to have a specific character for this, many dogs do not get emotionally attached to toys, not only because they dispose of them in a short period of time, but simply because they do not see the point in it. But if you decide to try to teach the puppy to a specific toy, the toy should not be freely available whenever the puppy remembers it. It therefore serves only as a reward, not leisure entertainment. However, I personally think that this method of reward will not be very successful with vlcaks mainly because they soon get bored with repetitive activities…
It is possible to praise the dog by touch. In general, we can take most well-intentioned touches as something that the dog perceives positively; however, it is possible to teach him a specific touch that can be associated with a treat/voice/clicker as praise. In the case of touch, however, we have to take into account a fundamental strategic disadvantage – the dog must be within our reach. I'm not even talking about the fact that not every dog is tall enough for us to touch them without bending our backs and since a lot of praise is needed in training, it could have painful consequences for us at the end of the day.
This does not change the fact that many dog handlers use touch as a reward, especially people who have a blind or deaf dog. For these cases, touch is the most effective way to effectively connect with the dog and convey the information we want – that it is a good dog and has done something right. However, it is not reserved only for them, so for various games even the owner of a healthy dog can invent their own touches, which would silently let the dog know the correctness of the task performed.
To recap, praising a dog is not wrong, on the contrary, it is one of the basic elements of building a mutual relationship. An owner who takes the correct behaviour of his dog for granted and does not praise him, only punishes the bad behaviour, is exposed to the risk that their dog will not respect and understand them as much after psychological maturity, and there is a chance that it will react disproportionately to punishments. I would also advise to praise in moderation. Praise in such a way that it has some effect. If you praise all the time and for every stupid thing, the dog will become numb to it and will no longer perceive it as a sufficient reward. But praise whatever you think is right; for example, me and several of my friends and owners of CSW praise their dogs when they do their business outside even in adulthood.
Last but not least, don't overthink the essence of praise. You won't lose your status in the family, you won't make your dog a spoiled brat, be fair and just and you won't spoil anything. Your dog will perceive the world mainly through you; your joy will be its joy; your sorrows will be its sorrows. There is no reason to deny him that happiness out of an irrational fear of losing authority.