Physical Praise...the reinforcer we tend to forget. We all pet our dogs plenty but we may not realize that physical praise is actually a PRIMARY reinforcer which means it is a very strong (innate) stimulus to the dogs, one that did not need to be paired with a function (like secondary reinforces). Toys and food are the other two very common primary reinforcers and we use those a lot more.
It is common that dogs would prefer a toy or food instead of physical praise in a momentous time where a reward would be given, however, physical praise counts for the powers it holds!
How many of the ambitious pet owners amongst us have had mediocre success in teaching a new behavior in a training session but then find the dog offering the behavior perfectly on the casual stroll around the neighborhood? And we get upset because we were not prepared, did not bring food or toys along on the walk, and feel we miss an opportunity to reward. At all times, under all circumstances, you still have physical praise to give! Pair that with some serious verbal praise and more dogs than you might think are impressionably reinforced with that, it's marvelous!