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Reward Placement is a key training principle for all dog trainers. The dog goes where the reward happens, plain and simple. They want to be where good things happen. Who doesn’t?
Reward Placement sets position for the next behavior and create or inhibits movement. You can manufacture an approach by tossing a cookie or keep a dog stable by feeding to the dog’s mouth. You can get a dog to go to a spot or a target by only reinforcing there. You can keep a dog busy by scattering your cookies on the ground.
Where and how you reward have a great impact on the effectiveness and efficiency in training. Well executed and purposeful reward placement can create behaviors like magic. Poor placement can mean months of frustration.
Toss Cookies for Movement
If you throw your cookie (or toy) you can get your dog to move. The strategic tossing of cookies is a necessary skill for advanced dog training. Whether it’s setting up movement to or from a spot, making your dog gravitate to an area or the remote adding of value, tossing cookies is a big deal.
Feeding Cookies Controls the Head
When you feed your dog a cookie directly to their mouth, you have serious control over your dog’s head. The dog puts their mouth where the cookie is. That is a huge piece of intelligence that all trainers should leverage to their advantage, and is a strong argument for the use of food in dog training.
Reward Placement adds value to an area. Lots of cookies happen in front of the handler. That’s why your dog likes to be there so much. Switch to only giving your dog cookies in heel position for a week, and that same desire they show to work in front of you will be there for Heel position.
Feed your dog’s dinner in their crate will add value to the crate.
Types of Cookies
In positive training, the term cookie often means anything that the dog finds reinforcing. This is often food, but not always. Petting is a cookie, as is praise. Toys and play in general are reinforcers. Access to the environment, people and other dogs can be cookies as well.