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7 Ways to Reward Your Dog (without Using Treats)

It’s no secret that dogs are extremely food-oriented creatures – much like us humans are, actually! Even though we all love spoiling our pups with their favorite treats, there are other ways to reward your dog. Check out our list below of some other reward ideas for your little companion:


This may seem like an obvious answer, but if you want to reward your dog with something that lasts longer than a bone, buy them a brand new toy to play with. Depending on how long you’ve had your pal you may or may not know what they enjoy most. Some dogs prefer tennis balls over squeaky toys, some dogs like to cuddle (and rip apart) stuffed animals. Either way it goes, buying your dog a new toy to play with will definitely be appreciated!

(Bonus tip: Most brand name pet shops have clearance or 2 for $5 bins that make buying adorable toys extremely affordable for pet parents. Check those out first so you don’t break the bank!). You can also browse through the toy section of Amazon from the comfort of your own home.


Exercise can be hit or miss for us humans, but your dog is sure to love a fun day walking outside. You can take them to the park or just around the block, either way this is time spent exploring and moving for your best friend! This can be a fun activity for the whole family if you have a spouse or kids. Getting healthy and bonding with your dog at the same – you can’t really beat that for a reward!

(Bonus tip: Some dogs handle weather conditions better than others. If it’s hot outside do your dog a favor and buy a doggy water bottle for your walks. Here’s an awesome one that should do the trick. 

Car Ride!

Some dogs love nothing more than a nice car ride with the window rolled down. This is the perfect way to reward your dog… just for being awesome! Make a day of it and maybe stop for some pet friendly treats after. It’s time to bond for both of you and your dog can enjoy the nice breeze as he/she relaxes in the passenger seat.

Featured Article: Planning a Vacation With A Dog

(Bonus tip: It’s probably best to let your dog digest food before taking a car ride. Believe it or not, some dogs can get car sick!).

Make something for your dog!

This could technically fall under the category of treats if you wanted to go that route (and if you do, we’re sure your dog is fine with that!). However, you can make your dog tons of useful things besides edible rewards. Look through Pinterest and you’ll find craft instructions for everything from a new doggy bed to chew toys to adorable doggy clothes! Nothing makes an Instagram shot cuter than dressing your pup in a little outfit. This can also be a very rewarding task for pet owners who like being creative and making things from scratch.

(Bonus tip: Never leave your dog alone with outfits or harnesses on! Your dog could chew out buckles, buttons, or pieces of fabric and get choked).

Belly rub!

Dogs are sensitive to the sensation of touch and they appreciate a nice belly rub just like many humans do. Your dog may enjoy other things, too – like having their ears or paws rubbed, having their back scratched, etc. Some dogs like to cuddle on their owner’s lap while others prefer to lie in their own space. Either way, most dogs aren’t going to say no to some form of cuddle time with their owners!

(Bonus tip: When you find that perfect spot your dog will likely wag its tail or shake its leg. Apart from being super cute, that is a sure sign you’ve found their reward spot. Try using touch in place of treats and see how your pup responds).

Praise the pup!

Dogs might not understand every single word you say (though they certainly can memorize and understand many). In spite of this, dogs CAN understand the tone of your voice and they do recognize both positive and negative emotions… kind of like a baby, for example. Because dogs are sensitive to how their owners react to things, praising your dog or “happy talk” can be extremely effective. Tell your dog how good he/she is whenever you reward him/her, and they will certainly remember that praise later on.

(Bonus tip: When you are particularly proud of your dog, use a command statement to cement that pride. Saying “good boy!” every time your dog does something good will stick in your pup’s mind. When they hear that phrase they will know they’re doing something right!)

Play time!

We mentioned toys earlier in this article, but nothing satisfies a dog more than attention – especially attention from their owner! Playing with your dog is bonding time for both of you. It encourages your dog to see you in a positive light, because they will associate you, their owner, with positive feelings. Playing with your dog can also help relieve stress and provide a good form of exercise for your pup. Play time is also a great time to teach your dog new tricks – like fetch, catching Frisbees or balls (note: use one of these ball launchers to make this more fun), and roll over.

(Bonus tip: Interactive toys are great for play time. Anything that can be thrown is great because it encourages your dog to interact with you. You can also play tug-of-war. One fun game to play is hide-and-seek. Start by hiding in a place your dog can’t see, but could still easily find if they looked. Shout for your dog to come find you. When your pup obeys command, excitedly praise with happy talk. Then try running from your dog and hiding again. Your excitement combined with the thrill of the game will delight your pup – they catch on pretty quick to this game and will find it super enjoyable).

Do you have a tip that wasn’t shared here? Please let us know below! I’m sure others will love to know

About the Author Debbie

Being a dog parent has never felt this good. Here at Long Live Dog, finding the best essentials for your dog is our top concern. My mission is to provide information and latest updates, especially about best dog products, to dog owners and lovers alike.

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