Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Where and how you reward your dog makes a big difference to the final product.

Treat placement is a big part of teaching any behaviour.  Treat placement will help the dog understand where to look, where to focus and what he should be concentrating on.
Food being held high encouraging dog to jump

Dog owners tend to feed their dogs where they are holding the food, for example in front of them at waist height.  Where this becomes a concern, is when dogs end up learning to jump for food.  If the food is held high,
Food offered low and in the centre of your body
when the dog approaches the dog is looking up and therefore more likely to jump towards the food.  What I see a lot is dog jumps, gets told to sit and then gets rewarded.  This will build the jumping behaviour into coming and into the sight of food means jump for it.  Instead, when dog comes offer the food in the centre of your body and below the height of the dog's chin.

 This way the dog will always look down for the food and never think of jumping up because that is not where the food is delivered.

When teaching any stationary behaviour, like sit, down or stand, you want to make sure you reward the dog in the position.  If your dog is in a down and you reward with his head high the dog will eventually start to lift his elbows when you are coming down with the reward.  I reward under their chin, when I don't want to bend that far I throw it in between their elbows, always encouraging looking down.

Another example is teaching a dog to go into a crate.  Whenever you teach a behaviour, your first task is to picture what exactly you want the dog to do.  For this example, I am not worried about the verbal cue, just the dog going in quickly and smoothly.  If I reward out of my hand, after they have gone in, then the behaviour I am creating is going in and spins back to get the cookie.  Not bad, but since we don't like to bend, you will probably start feeding them further from the door of the crate and soon your dog runs in, spins and runs out of the crate.  If instead, you reward at the back of the crate, by throwing the reward as soon as your goes in, your dog will drive in looking at the back.

Always remember, if your dog is not learning what you are trying to teach him, check out your reward placement. That might be your answer.