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  • Writer's pictureThe Dogzbody

Are you rewarding or bribing your dog?

Rewarding and bribing are two different approaches to influencing or guiding a dog's behaviour, and the distinction lies in the timing of the reinforcement and the intent behind it.


  1. Timing: Rewards are given after the dog has performed the desired behaviour. It reinforces the behaviour and increases the likelihood of the dog repeating it in the future.

  2. Intent: The purpose of a reward is to positively reinforce good behaviour. It helps the dog associate the behaviour with a positive outcome, making it more likely to occur again.

Example: Giving your dog a treat immediately after they sit on command. The treat serves as a reward for sitting, reinforcing the behaviour.


  1. Timing: Bribes are offered before the dog performs the behaviour, essentially trying to lure or entice the dog into doing something.

  2. Intent: The intent of a bribe is to get the dog to perform a desired behaviour by offering a reward upfront. However, if the dog doesn't comply, the reward may still be given, essentially turning it into a bribe.

Example: Holding a treat in front of your dog's nose to try to get them to sit. If the dog sits, you give the treat; if not, you might still give the treat to encourage compliance.

Key Differences:

  • In rewarding, the dog performs the behaviour first and is then rewarded, reinforcing the behaviour.

  • In bribing, the reward is offered before the behaviour, attempting to motivate the dog to perform the action.


  • Bribing can sometimes lead to the dog expecting a reward every time, even if they don't perform the behaviour.

  • Consistent rewarding for desired behaviours helps establish positive habits in the long run.

It's generally more effective and recommended to focus on rewarding desired behaviours after they occur rather than relying on bribes. This approach helps build a stronger association between the behaviour and the positive outcome, leading to better long-term results in training and behaviour modification.


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