Al's Dog Training Tips

Reward Placement

Today’s topic is reward placement. This is designed for a sport that I compete in. So each Sunday, I go out with a group of people, and we practice sport protection work. One of the lucky things I get to do is coach. One of the members wanted me to look at how her dog heels with her. Now, the heeling that we do in the sport is much different from that that people do whenever they’re walking with their dog. It is more of a fancy kind of walking the dog does, and it’s also scored for its aesthetics. 


One of the issues that my fellow club member was running into is that her dog is bumping into her quite a bit when she’s heeling. I took a look to see how they were going about it. As I watched them, I was really looking for where the reward was going to come from.  This is important, especially doing anything competitive with a dog where precision matters. The dog is going to begin to anticipate where the reward comes from.

My fellow club member was heeling her dog on the left-hand side. And she was using a ball in her right hand to reward the dog. She actually had a really nice technique, and the dog was heeling beautifully.  When she was in the middle of a heel, she would tell the dog “yes”. Then out of her right hand would come the ball.  At that moment in time, the dog would then begin to come over to her front and try to get at the ball. Then what ends up happening because she does this regularly is the dog begins to anticipate when the reward will come. Because of that, he will then start moving in the direction prematurely because of the anticipation.

Placing Your Reward

For those of you guys looking to actually clean up the way your dog moves with you or any particular thing, you want to look at how you are placing your reward.  I tend to coach most people on when we’re working on a leash walking, I keep any food or toys on my left hip, and the dog is on the left-hand side. Then, when I come to a halt, and the dog sits by my side, the reward is produced over the top of their head, which makes for a very nice picture.

Now, you do have to be pretty consistent. There are many small details that you can miss when you’re doing that, but the better you get at hammering that particular nail, the better the dog is going to get it while giving you this exact type of heeling that you’re looking for. 

Now again, this doesn’t have to be used specifically for heeling. Maybe it’s just that you don’t necessarily like how your dog is doing it, but they’re getting it right more or less. Take a look at your reward placement to ensure that you’re not sending any unintentional misinformation to your dog. 

If anybody needs any help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can text me at 832-734-5189 or go to my YouTube Channel. You can find more tips like this right here on my website at as well.

Happy Training!

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