If you’re looking for a way to get a faster drop on recall, better signals, and solid waits, check out how placement of reward can be helpful for you!
“Bee” is one of my favorite reward markers! I have golden retrievers and coming to me is super high value for them. They get joy from interacting with me, getting treats from me, and playing with me. Because all the value is attached to me, getting them to do stuff out there without creeping in toward me can be difficult.
Since I have incorporated the reward marker “bee” into my training, my drops, positions, signals, and even stays have gotten so much better!! “Bee” means the reward will be behind the dog. My dogs are very equally toy and food motivated, so I use “bee” for both food and toys. If your dog strongly prefers one over the other, I would recommend using two different markers, one for treats and one for toys.
Rewarding From Behind
Here’s an example of Excel being rewarded for a wait by using “bee”.
Putting the treats that he wants behind him splits the value, so it’s not all about coming into me, and this results in dogs being more willing to stay out there and work. You can place the treats or toys at any time. When I’m training, I will typically place them right before I leave the dog. This way they know they are right there behind them. With my more experienced dogs, I will often place it when they aren’t paying attention, like when I’m heeling. I use “bee” all the time for signals, so I’ll toss the toy softly behind me as I’m doing the turn into the stand. Sometimes, I even give the toy or treat to another person and they place it behind the dog while I am leaving. The important thing is, whenever you say “bee”, that reward is behind the dog!
Faster Drops and Signals!
This reward marker can speed up your drop on recall significantly! Dogs want to go where the rewards come from, so if they know the reward may be coming from behind, they will start to drop more quickly in order to be nearer to the reward. Check out this video of me using “bee” for a drop on recall.
Here you can see “bee” in action with signals.
When I use this reward marker with recalls or signals, I will reward at different times. Sometimes I’ll reward the dog on the wait, sometimes after the drop, or after the sit for signals. The one thing I do not use “bee” for is a front. Try this a couple times and you’ll see how reward markers work by changing the dog’s tendencies, only in this case it will work against you as the dog sits further away in front to be closer to the reward!
Impulse Control Around Treats and Toys
In order to use this, your dog needs to have good impulse control around food and toys, and needs to understand how to leave those things alone until being told he/she can have it. This won’t work well if your dog turns around and eats the treat as you walk away, or when you say front! Although it does make for a pretty good laugh when your super-high trained UD dog decides to eat treats instead of coming!!
Once your dog has good treat manners, teaching this reward marker is super easy! I usually start with treats in order to get several reps in quickly. Simply put a treat behind your dog, step in front of the dog, and say “bee” without any motion. Once you’ve said it, point to the treat and encourage your dog to get it. It won’t take many reps at all for your dog to figure it out! From that point you can start adding distance and more difficulty. You can practice cues to teach your dog to hear the cue and respond appropriately. If your dog is struggling, put the treat farther behind the dog and stand right in front of the dog, and ask for an easy behavior. Hand touches, downs, and other simple cues work well at this stage.
Have fun with this reward marker! You’ll quickly see how effective this can be for rewarding behaviors for which the dog needs to perform at a distance!