Lifestage mascot

How old is your dog?

Pre-Puppy preview image


What’s better than puppies? That’s right: your own puppy. So, what do you need to know before you take the plunge into pet parenthood?

0-2 months
0-2 months preview image

0-2 months

Welcome to the world little one. It’s all grow-grow-grow for your puppy right now, so there’s many things to prepare.

2-3 months
2-3 months preview image

2-3 months

Your puppy is ready to come home and turn your world upside down. It’s time to put your preparation into practice – and remember to take it all in!

3-6 months
3-6 months preview image

3-6 months

You’re entering a period of immense growth, lots of learning and new adventures. Bring on the play date with the big wide world!

6-12 months
6-12 months preview image

6-12 months

Your fur-baby is nearing adulthood. Can you see their grown self coming through? Sigh…they grow up so fast, don’t they?

12-18 months
12-18 months preview image

12-18 months

Your puppy has turned one and they might not be so little anymore. Make sure to book their first annual check-up.

18 months - 3 years
18 months - 3 years preview image

18 months - 3 years

Your dog is one an established family member now. Enjoy who they have become and the bond you now share at this special stage.

3 - 8 years
3 - 8 years preview image

3 - 8 years

Your dog is a full-grown adult now. They understand where their place is in your home and the wider world.

8+ years
8+ years preview image

8+ years

Just like many senior citizens, senior dogs have some extra needs. Learn to look after your best friend and support their health as they grow older.

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training & Motivation

Lara Shannon profile picture

Lara Shannon

Pet Lover and Australian TV Personality

As a one of Australia’s most well-known animal welfare advocates, Lara Shannon is passionate about educating and empowering people to help improve the lives of companion animals. Lara is a certified pet food nutritionist, dog trainer and behaviourist, media personality and Author of ‘World of Dogs’ and ‘Eat, Play, Love (your dog)’. See more at

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training & Motivation

The key to positive reinforcement dog training and behaviour modification is finding what motivates your dog the most to follow your instructions or perform a behaviour you are want from them faster, better, stronger.

For most dogs this is food or treats, but it can also be rewarding them with play, such as a game like tug-a-war, fetch or giving them their favourite toy, verbal praise or a pat or tummy rub at the moment they perform the action or behaviour you are after.

What motivates them the most however can change day to day, even hour to hour and minute by minute, so it’s important you pay attention to what they are responding most to at that time, so your positive reinforcement dog training has a greater chance of success.

Here's some tips for using food and treats in your positive reinforcement dog training.

Ditch the Bowl

If you feed your dog a kibble or a cooked roll and simply feed it to them every morning or night in a bowl, you are wasting a fantastic opportunity to instead use it as part of your positive reinforcement dog training.

Instead measure out their daily food intake and use it in training instead.

A hungry dog will perform better in their training if you are using their food or treats as the reward, and it is a great way to make them work for their food, keeping their brains and bodies active like they would be in the wild when foraging for their food.

Treat Hierarchy

If using good and treats in your positive reinforcement dog training, it’s very useful to have a hierarchy of treats available so you can use it to improve your dog’s response and make it more reliable, faster or more accurate.

For example, you might use small training treats like the VitaPet Pocket Trainers, as they’re easy to keep in your pocket and also use on your walks.

They’re also great if you’re working from home and you catch your dog doing a behaviour you’d like to encourage more of, as you can easily toss them one even if you’re on a video conference call.

Jackpot Rewards

If you’re at the park and your dog is a distance away or easily distracted, squeak a ball or toy to get their attention and then call them over to you. Some dogs will be motivated enough by just the ball or toy to return but, if you are still working on their recall, you can use treats like the VitaPet Milky Sticks or Chicken Sticks as the ‘jackpot’ to reward a particularly quick return and to encourage constant improvement.

For dogs that might need a bit more motivation, or if you are wanting to polish their performance even further, it is useful to have a hierarchy of treats on hand with a really high value food or treat.

With most dogs you can’t go past chicken so the VitaPet Chicken Tenders broken up are great to keep in your pocket and use when your dog does something particularly well.
And, they don’t say “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” for nothing, so using roast chicken as the ultimate jackpot is sure to keep your dog on their toes… well there paws actually.

Treat Responsibly

Remember if using treats in your positive reinforcement dog training, they shouldn’t account for any more than 10% of your dog’s required total calorie intake each day.

Vary the Reward

Do vary it and use praise, games and toys as well when you can, to keep your dog engaged and guessing what’s worth performing for next.

Check out the full range of VitaPet dog treats here.


You can see more training tips on Lara Shannon's website here, and don't forget to tune in to Pooches at Play TV show that airs on Channel 10.

Pet Paw-Trol

Promotion preview

Free Puppy Training Guide

Your puppy training guidebook.

Get yours now.

Promotion preview

Perfect Pocket Training Treats

These real meat treats are perfect for puppy training on the go.

More Info