2054A timely reward lets your dog know she did something right, by George, she got it, she learned the lesson, found the hidden object, left the pizza on the sidewalk, took away your pain, made you laugh, stopped on a dime, put the ball into your hand, didn’t annoy the cat, jumped through the hoop, or whatever it was you were hoping she would do.  So what’s a timely reward?

Though my dog will accept verbal praise and or a pat on the head or a scritch on the neck, for her, a timely reward is time. time with me, time when I am not writing a blog or reading the news or eating an apple or talking on the phone, time that’s all hers.  All hers.  And that means a walk, long, fast, with little conversation save the occasional “Go left,” or “Go straight,” or sometimes, just a whispered, “I love you, Sky,” which always gets me a smile, my reward.

Sure, you’ll want to say, “Good dog,” when you toss out a command and your dog obeys.  But the real stuff isn’t food, it isn’t that pat on the head, it’s time.  This is what your dog craves.  This is how the bond between you tightens.  This is putting your money where your mouth is.  And despite the weather, and all the things you need to do, it will not only be the best time of the day for your dog, it will be for you as well.  Always was.  Always will be.

Happy New Year.  Back soon.