Reward Placement

09/02/2022

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REWARD PLACEMENT

When it comes to building behaviour one aspect which has a huge impact but is often overlooked is reward placement. Where and how you reward your dog will impact the final behaviour you build.

For example if you are teaching your dog to run to their bed and lie down, you might choose to reward your dog on their bed. This will help to build value for being on the mat and serve to build calmness and keep your dog in position for duration, particularly if you give multiple rewards one after the other.

Alternatively, you might choose to reward your dog away from the bed after getting into position. This has the benefit of setting your dog up for another repetition, but also results in energising your dog, which can cause them to move more quickly into position.

There is no right or wrong way – both are perfectly valid and will teach your dog the behaviour but the detail of how the finished behaviour looks will be shaped by the choices you make.

Another example of reward placement shaping behaviour is loose lead walking. Where you choose to reward your dog will affect how close to you they walk, whether they are in front or behind and if they stay to your side or cut across in front of you as you move.

It is also possible to mark your dog for a behaviour in one location but reward them in a different place. For example when building up recall, you might as first mark when your dog turns to look at you, but then offer the reward by your side to further build the behaviour. If you repeat this several times, your dog will start to move towards you as they check in, because the placement of reward drives the behaviour of moving closer to you.

Improving your awareness of reward placement will massively help you when it comes to teaching your dog new behaviours.

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