The Trendsetter in Canine Performance Video!™


09Sep2016

And the Survey Says!

Canine Training Systems Nose Work 2We announced some time ago that we were moving to streaming media and video on-demand to greatly increase our production output and that while all previous releases would still be available on DVD, no new titles would be released on outdated formats.  There are mulitiple reasons for moving to streaming media and Podium View™ On-Demand has been a tremendous success.  Customers from all over the world are taking advantage of the benefits of immediate delivery of our content, chapter navigation and our anytime, anywhere philosophy.  We now have over 70 of our products available for Lifetime Purchase and will continue to populate Podium View™ with our complete library.

We're still receiving inquiries about two recent titles, Nose Work 2: The Indication and Concepts in Reinforcement: Training with Food and whether they will ever be released on DVD.  In addition to streaming being an obstacle for some customers for multiple reasons, others stated they wanted DVD's to round out their set.  The reasons for streaming were and still are clear which forced our decision initially.  This ongoing inquiry prompted our survey to get direct feedback and see what the concensus was.  We appreciate the feedback!

Over the years when we've released titles, you, our loyal customer base, have contacted us when illegal pirating of our media was found so that we could take action.  We've always been incredibly impressed by this; your customer loyalty and honesty has been amazing.  More recently, we're dealing with individuals that intentionally violate our Terms of Use and unethically purchase products solely for the purpose of providing them to individuals that will use them directly in violation of our Terms.  This is particularly troubling on multiple levels.  First, it's unethical and fraud.  This goes without saying.  The marketplace is being forced to change in direct proportion to this. 

Canine Training Systems Nose Work 2

Second, it's a deal killer for return on investment.  This applies to our technical experts and our bottom line.  We're a small business and real people.  Heather and I have been married since 1997 and both enjoy being active with our kids and dogs. You've spoken to one of us if you've called us in the last 17 years.  My oldest son Spencer plays both JV and Varsity high school soccer, my daugher Jocelyn dances and does CrossFit and my youngest son Landon enjoys multiple sports.  We rely on your patronage and honesty for our family to continue to produce training titles.  If you're aware of someone violating our Terms of Use in any way,  please let us know!  

We've decided to offer these two titles on DVD to those who are interested in pre-purchasing them with a few caveats in mind.  First, we'll accept pre-orders until the DVD's are authored (coded) and ready to send to the replicator (we'll announce this date as it's available, likely in about 2 weeks or so).  Second, if the pre-order volume doesn't hit the threshold of interest we've been told there is, we'll refund the pre-orders and remain streaming only.  We're leaving it completely up to you to decide.  It's in your hands based on your interest and order volume.  Both videos are fully completed and have been available for some time so what remains is strictly the production of DVD's.  We anticipate 4-6 weeks conservatively to have product in-house to ship.

We've created a specific category for these titles and are offering them in multiple configurations; single discs and a variety of combinations depending on what you may have already purchased.  If you have questions, please contact us.

You can pre-order individual titles and bundled sets here.

The Nose Work 2 Preview... 

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The Training with Food Preview... 

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02May2016

Producer Doug Calhoun recognized on StudioDaily 50 list

Posted by Blog Staff

The StudioDaily 50 is populated by executives and producers who make great work happen; directors, cinematographers and editors who push the creative envelope; and scientists, engineers, inventors and other innovators who keep pushing the state of the creative arts. With this crowd, most of them spend their professional lives crossing boundaries on a daily basis.

Adding to an already long list of production industry awards, Doug Calhoun, the innovative producer, cinematographer and editor at Canine Training Systems (Forest Run Productions) is gaining his own notoriety and has been named to StudioDaily’s esteemed Top 50 list. The inaugural list was compiled by the leading and award-winning news source for creative digital media, StudioDaily, with a focus on innovation in the production of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

Doug Calhoun, who is President at Canine Training Systems, the world-renowned firm responsible for crafting the industry standard in instructional videos for sport, service and pet dogs has been honored in The Specialists category. “Producing content in what’s considered a Specialist category is about passion for dogs and dedication to our customer base. We love the variety of dog sports that not only we enjoy, but our customers participate in. It’s incredibly gratifying to get testimonials from our customers and resellers about the caliber of teamwork our titles help create, strengthen and demonstrate across the globe. I’m proud of our products, and am honored to be on the StudioDaily 50 list alongside so many other talented individuals.”

Recipients were announced and honored at the prestigious Prime Awards held by Studio Daily, during NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, one of the industry’s biggest and most anticipated broadcast production industry conferences. The event was streamed live from the show floor world-wide.

“I enjoy all aspects of the process. Editing makes for a better videographer and understanding the information and concepts you need to convey allows the information to be crafted in a variety of ways.” Having gained a footing in production with firms like Gates Corporation, Digital Lava, American Airlines, IonCleanse, RecoverFast, The Outdoor Channel and Kiwanis Club International among many others, Calhoun has filled the shelves with production awards.

To learn more about the StudioDaily 50, visit their website.


23Jun2015

Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication wins a 2015 Telly Bronze Award

Canine Training Systems Wins a 2015 Telly Bronze Award for Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The IndicationAs the second title in our Nose Work series nears completion,  Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication has won it's FIFTH International Award!  We've both seen and received tremendous accolades for this product.  Any dog, any breed, any age, any substance.  This title is ideal for sport detection dogs in Nose Work and professional applications like police K9 (narcotics and explosives), border patrol and specialized detection like medical alert and biologicals.  In addition to being an award winner, this title, by it's very methodology, circumvents problems created in other methods because of it's logical, linear approach to training.  As a backchaining method, each step in the process builds upon the previous so any error in training is incredibly easy to identify and correct.  As an immediate byproduct, this title has become the go-to repair manual for "certified" trainers in other methodologies.

This new title is incredibly popular and of the same quality Canine Training Systems is known for!  We're pleased with our fifth International Award, a 2015 Telly Bronze Award!

To date Nose Work 1- The Indication has earned:

  • 2015 Hermes Creative Gold Award Winner
  • 2015 Communicator Award of Excellence
  • 2015 Ava Digital Awards Gold Award
  • 2014 MarCom Creative Gold Award

About The Telly Awards
Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is firmly among the premier awards honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, web commercials, videos and films. The Telly Awards annually showcases the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. The Telly Awards is a widely known and highly respected national and international competition and receives over 12,000 entries annually from all 50 states and 5 continents.

“The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video,” said Linda Day, Executive Director of the Telly Awards.  “Canine Training Systems’ accomplishment illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.”  You can learn more about the Telly Awards here.

To learn more about our 45 International Production Awards, please visit our awards page.

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11Jun2015

The Beauty of a Dog

There is an intangible with dogs that draws us to keeping, training and loving them.  From the perspecitve of the dog, the other side of the relationship becomes evident- it's a two way street.  This short film from Felt Soul Media is absolutely awesome. We love their work and follow them on Vimeo.  Enjoy, but grab a tissue.

Denali from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.


13May2015

Active Behaviors in the Passive Alert- Some Causes and Remedies

We read about this problem a LOT on social media.  It seems to be a very pervasive problem in older training methodologies.  The 4X International Award Winning Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1 - The Indication circumvents these issues but some people still run into issues with specific dogs.

Q: When doing nosework (the indication) training, my dog is extremely excited and if I don't click and reward immediately when he sticks his nose into the hole in the box he starts hitting the box with his paws, putting his nose on other parts of the box and biting it. He never puts his nose in softly. He always pushes his nose in so if the hole is big enough he will even push his whole head in the box. How do I teach him to be more calm and patient?

A: In seminars I see this quite often, generally from dogs being retrained in other systems, dogs being cross-trained or high energy/drive breeds.  There are quite a few reasons why this happens 'typically'.  Here are just a few...
    

  1. Dogs that have extensive work with prey items become easily stimulated when frustrated and the emotions of active play become present when the dog is faced with a problem that is unclear.  I always use food for teaching the indication and add the toy much later after many, many repetitions of the ideal indication are strongly conditioned.  Starting with or moving to prey reward too soon can compound this problem.  Moving to a lower value reward item can be really, really helpful.
  2. Some dogs are very physical and have a very natural physical response to objects whether biting, chewing, scratching or pushing objects.  This is of course not an ideal behavior for a passive response but the energy behind it can be useful for vigilant searching and durability to source later.  The very movement of objects can provide self-reward to the dog and a venting of drive and frustration.
  3. The timing of the mark is not precise enough.  Some people still prefer to use a verbal marker over a clicker.  A verbal marker can carry a tremendous amount of emotion with it depending on how it's conditioned and this can stimulate the dog.  A verbal marker isn't as precise either, it's like doing surgery with a putty knife.  I prefer the scalpel like precision of the clicker.  Training the indication requires precise feeback, not emotion.  As the handler institutes a "search cue", emotion can be adjusted to stimulate searching or calm the dog.   Waiting for calm, intense, contained emotion and energy prior to releasing to search is ideal.


It's possible to resolve the issue in a number of ways depending on how far you are with your indication.  It's generally resolved using a combination of modifications.
 

  1. Anchor the box so that the dog can't move it.  This may provide you with enough repetitions to solve a pushing problem.  Placing a brick inside cardboard or plastic tubs can help tremendously.
  2. Return to the shaping phase and flood calm indications with your hand outside the box, only returning when the dog maintains his indication can be helpful.
  3. Wait the dog out.  As with distractions, if you feel the dog has a clear understanding of the indication, waiting for the dog to return to a calm indication and marking may be enough to isolate a desired behavior.  The dog must learn to be "still" and avoiding the problem may be the problem.
  4. Adjust your intervals of variable reinforcement.  Some dogs become more still and intense when they are asked to hold the indication momentarily.
  5. Introduce an incompatible behavior now.  I teach a sit and down with the stare (nose at point of odor) which is useful.  This forces a pair of behaviors which requires focus from the dog, particularly when adding variables.  It also helps gauge the dog's mood and forces it to control it's body. 
  6. Add the down at the box in combination with solution 2 above.  If you're following along with the DVD, doing repetitions of down in a session immediately prior to working the indication will help settle the dog.
  7. Consider the dog's mood before the session.  Perhaps the dog is too hungry, could use some exercise or is more calm during a certain time of the day.

We hope this helps clarify some of the causes and solutions.  It's a pretty pervasive problem, but if dealt with quickly, generally fixable.  As always best of luck with your dog and training!


30Apr2015

Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication wins a 2015 Communicator Award of Excellence

Canine Training Systems Wins a 2015 Communicator Award of <b>Excellence</b>for Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The IndicationA heavy package arrived in the mail today!  Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication has won it's THIRD International Award.  More importantly, it's full of detail and clear instructional content for training detector dogs.  Any dog, any breed, any age, any substance.  This title is ideal for sport detection dogs in Nose Work and professional applications like police K9 (narcotics and explosives), border patrol and specialized detection like medical alert and biologicals.

It's tough to top the 7X International Award Winning prerequisite title,  Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Learning to Learn.  This new title is incredibly popular!  We're pleased with our third International Award, a 2015 21st Annual Communicator Award of Excellence!

To date Nose Work 1- The Indication has earned:

  • 2015 Communicator Award of Excellence
  • 2015 Ava Digital Awards Gold Award
  • 2014 MarCom Creative Gold Award

We've received tremendous feedback via email and social media.  Despite the difficulty in advertising the video anywhere but online, we've had international orders from Canada, Italy, Indonesia, Greece, Hong Kong, England, Spain, Japan, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Belgium, Finland, Chile, Panama, Ireland, Czech Republic, S. Africa and beyond.  More importantly, our customers are telling us how incredibly their dogs are performing and how quickly they are learning.  They're also talking about it with friends and training enthusiasts the world over!

As always, we truly appreciate your business and revel in your success!  Your success through our products is our success.

About The Communicator Awards
The Communicator Awards is sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, an invitation-only group consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed media, communications, advertising, creative and marketing firms. AIVA members include executives from organizations such as Airtype Studio, Big Spaceship, Conde Nast, Coach, Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, Fry Hammond Barr, Lockheed Martin, MTV Networks, Pitney Bowes, rabble+rouser, Sotheby's Institute of Art, Time, Inc, Victoria's Secret, Wired, and Yahoo! To learn more about the AIVA please visit www.aiva.org.

”The Communicator Awards honors work that transcends innovation and craft - work that made a lasting impact. The Award of Excellence, the highest honor, is given to those entrants whose ability to communicate positions them as the best in the field.” You can learn more about the Communicator Awards here.

To learn more about our 43 International Production Awards, please visit our awards page.

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10Feb2015

Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication has won an AVA Digital Awards Gold Award!

Canine Training Systems Wins a 2015 AVA Awards Gold Award for Training Through Pictures- Learning to Learn with Dave KroyerThe mail has been full of good news lately.  Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication has won another International Award.  More importantly, it's full of detail and clear instructional content for training detector dogs.  Any dog, any breed, any age, any substance.  This title bridges the gap between sport detection dogs in Nose Work and professional applications like police K9 (narcotics and explosives), border patrol and specialized detection like medical alert and biologicals.

It's tough to top the 7X International Award Winning prerequisite title,  Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Learning to Learn.  This new title is incredibly popular!  We're pleased with the result, a 2015 AVA Digital Awards Gold Award!

We're really happy with the title and so are our customers, we've had international orders from Italy, Greece, England, Spain, Japan, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Belgium, Finland, Chile, Panama, Ireland and beyond.

As always, we truly appreciate your business and hope you enjoy the final product!  Thanks for all the feedback, your success through our products is our success.

About The AVA Digital Awards
The Ava Awards recognizes outstanding work by creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, direction, shooting, and editing of audio-visual materials and programs. Entrants include video and film production companies, web developers, advertising agencies, PR firms, corporate and government communications departments, producers, directors, editors and shooters. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry. There were 2500 entries from throughout the United States and 17 other countries in the 2015 AVA Digital Awards Competition.

AVA's Digital Platinum Award is presented to those entries judged to be among the most outstanding submissions in the competition. Platinum Winners are recognized for their excellence in terms of quality, creativity and resourcefulness. About 15 percent won this award. The Gold Award is presented to those judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm. Approximately 18 percent were Gold Winners and 8 percent received Honorable Mention recognition. You can learn more about the AVA Digital Awards here.

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10Feb2015

Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Learning to Learn has won an AVA Digital Awards Platinum Award!

Canine Training Systems Wins a 2015 Communicator Award of Distinction for Training Through Pictures- Learning to Learn with Dave KroyerTraining Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Learning to Learn has won a 2015 AVA Digital Awards Platinum Award!  It's a beautiful production, many of you have told us too.  We're proud of it and as more titles near release, it's good news for us to receive word of it's 7th production award.  The highest award they offer!

From the AVA Digital Awards website-

"The Ava Awards recognizes outstanding work by creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, direction, shooting, and editing of audio-visual materials and programs. Entrants include video and film production companies, web developers, advertising agencies, PR firms, corporate and government communications departments, producers, directors, editors and shooters. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry. There were 2500 entries from throughout the United States and 17 other countries in the 2015 AVA Digital Awards Competition."

Very nice.

That’s 7 Awards which nearly matches the 8 won by Training Substance Detector Dogs with Randy Hare- Detection 1

New titles are coming! As always, we appreciate your business and thanks for your feedback.

To learn more about the AVA Digital Awards, visit http://www.avaawards.com.

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10Dec2014

Why did my passive indication go active?

I recently ran across a video that, according to the presenter, was in response to a common training question they're asked in the realm of detection work.  It went like this:

Q: "How do you stop a dog from bothering the hide?  My dog paws and bites at the hide and I'm unsure how to get him to stop."

After a few minutes of build up in the video, the response was:

A: "Put the hide where the dog can't access it."

That's a solution for sure but almost certainly not the training information being looked for.  This blog post is to address the lack of information and help anyone with that question actually solve the problem.  Honestly, it's a great training question and deserves some investigation, mainly because it's a major problem in detection work where passive indication is desired.  Many methods of teaching passive indication encourage this problem where it could have been avoided altogether if training proceeded differently.  There are a range of questions that have to be asked to begin to answer the question that include the ones below.

  1. What does your normal indication look like?
  2. How do you communicate that to your dog?
  3. What reward type and delivery method do you use once it's been communicated?
  4. Did the behavior just start?
  5. Did something in your training just change?  (Duration, reward type, new odor, distractions, hide type, new location etc.)

That's just a start.  There are a number of things that can cause a variation or breakdown in any kind of behavior.  Lack of true understanding, lack of repetition of correct behaviors, incorrect proofing, inappropriate distractions, stress, change in reward type/drive level, conflict over reward presentation.  The list goes on.

The first question to ask is how did the dog learn the indication initially.  Often times in classes, dogs learn to search for food or toy objects prior to learning about a clean indication at odor source.  The dog's relationship with food and toys becomes it's initial relationship with the training boxes.  When active behaviors are inadvertantly allowed through exploration of boxes, they must be neutralized but the dog's relationship with these items away from training directly impacts scent work.  The dog will always revert to it's foundation when it's unsure and will even offer these behaviors when they've been successful elsewhere.  These are considerations when structuring training sessions.

More often than not, the answer comes back to a solid understanding of the indication.  Allowing the dog to offer a range of behaviors and be rewarded for only correct ones does a few things.  First, it allows for precision in clarifying exactly what earns reward.  The repetition of ideal behaviors creates a habit and muscle memory of what should 'reflexively' occur when odor source is encountered.  The creation of this behavior in isolation of all else cements the indication against variables when discrimination learning takes place.  When any number of variables are encountered, the dog is equipped with the answer already.  We can allow him to experiment and learn clearly WHAT DOESN'T earn reward.  This is incredibly powerful.

Second, and directly related to the previous point, through teaching the dog to ignore variables surrounding JUST THE INDICATION, we create an awareness in the dog that only one thing will earn reward.  The dog becomes actively resistant to variables he encounters.  He will very quickly accept that they hold no value and return to learned responses.  This principle is called "Associative Blocking" and is a powerful concept that is useful when training against "Concomitant Odors".  This very understanding helps avoid the extraneous behaviors often at the root of the pawing and biting problem,  "displacement behaviors".  These are behaviors that are byproducts of stress, drive or lack of clarity that interfere with clean behavior performance. 

Through isolating the indication first and adding variables later, any failure to indicate ideally can be addressed where it's encountered.  Because it's separate of the search, new locations and a range of other variables, training can proceed at a brisk pace until the problem is encountered and then dealt with directly.  For help with the indication and training progression please view, Training Through Pictures with Dave Kroyer- Nose Work 1- The Indication.  Teaching the indication in isolation to near perfection prior to search training eliminates a tremendous number of issues many trainers encounter. 

The award-winning title is 88 minutes in Hi-Definition and a short trailer can be seen below.

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09Dec2014

The Introduction of Toy Interaction in the Working Dog with Dave Kroyer: Part 3

Phone Interview with CTS President, Doug Calhoun, and Dave Kroyer.

In this third part of a multi-session series on toy interaction, we discussed common problems handlers have, how to schedule prey and food sessions and how to end sessions.  Part 1 and 2 can be read here and here.

Q: We’ve discussed starting prey interaction with a tug and establishing rules and contracts for interaction, what problems do you see with handlers?

A: These are a lot of things I see people bypass with their dog, they’re so busy working on things like sit and heel position and all these other things but one day they are going to have to use the toy and if these formal things aren’t put in place they are going to run into a road block when that prey item is introduced.  

One of the main problems though is not dedicating enough time to formal sessions or trials of teaching the dog how to play.  That’s the #1 problem, the #2 problem is we may have a very large, strong dog that someone who is very small, that maybe doesn’t have the strength of a larger person, will have a very difficult time playing tug. The dog could actually be manhandling the person.  It could be a 100-pound person and a 100-pound dog.  A lot of times, the dog will win that fight and drag them around.  This is where a game of fetch is actually better.   So someone that is not strong or mobile may want to play a game of fetch.

Another problem is with impulse control.  Let’s assume that the dog performed a behavior and we moment mark it and the handler can’t even reach for that toy without the dog taking our arm or hand or jacket.  That stems back to not enough out training and impulse control.  If we want to go back even further, it’s basic target training and how to work away from your prey and focus effort into behaviors or even stillness in the presence of prey.  The reason it’s based in this is because we’ve taught the dog two things- 1. to work away from the handler and not orient toward the handler or reward source and 2. because the dog understands to work for the mark, the click in my case.

It’s interesting really and timely, because this morning I was working with my pup, a young dog actually this morning.  I was working with a toy doing some targeting.  The dog was outing his toy and targeting to the table for a mark to return to a dead toy that he would push into me for play.  I would tug and then give him the toy and prompt him.  He would drop the toy and move to the table for his mark.  This is the first thing a dog has to learn, right, if you leave your toy you can have your toy and that’s impulse control.


Q: How do you schedule play sessions with food session in terms of predictability?

So we already know from Training Through Pictures- Learning to Learn how to establish food predictability.  Play is really just an extension, initially of those sessions.  At the end of a session of work with food, I will get the toy out and play with the dog.  I will use a tug and basically begin out training from day 1.  So it took like 1 week to 10 days to solidify the out from the tug, to make it very clear.  Once I had that then I started working on “out then you can take it back”, and now I’m going to let go of the tug but you have to interact with me.  Once I felt I had that under control, at around the 4-week period, I started playing fetch with the ball more.  

Now that you understand the rules of the out, I’m going to introduce a new type of game, fetch.  You go out and I throw one and I throw one, you come back and go between my legs and we play and you out the ball.  I may give it back to you, you may bring it back and push it into me to play and then out, create a behavior and throw it again.

So generally, now that my puppy is 5 months old, I have prey predictability basically done.


Q: At you near the end of a session how do you prepare the dog for the end of play?

95% or more of my play sessions end with the dog taking the prey item off of the field.  I still have to get it from him from wherever he’s housed whether it’s in the house or in a crate or a vehicle or dog box or trailer or kennel.  But, I’m very careful that when I put the dog away not to steal the toy away.  I usually have a minute or so more of work with the dog.  So if I’m 5-10 feet away from where the dog is housed, I may work on outs again.  An out, moment mark, give it back, out, moment mark and give it back and maybe then an out, moment mark and toss some food into the crate or kennel as a trade.  

Sometimes it’s one step further because the dog understands targeting.  I’ll ask them to kennel, crate or go into the trailer with the door open and when they enter I’ll click and let them return to me for the toy or ball.   At some point, the dog simply won’t receive the toy again as I give a terminal cue “we’re done” and offer a piece of food.  It’s never simply taking the toy away with nothing then.  I want an element of trust maintained but I do have to remove the toy.  It’s a balancing act and can be a bit different for different dogs but what I don’t want is the dog clamping down on the toy and me TAKING it away from him.  I want the dog to believe that there is ALWAYS a possibility of him getting it back.

Q: Is there a ratio of trading of items you maintain or how do you know when to adjust things with the dog?

When the dog becomes fluid with interactions surrounding the toy, I know we have trust.  With my very highly prey driven dogs, when they will approach the kennel or trailer and simply release the toy and enter, I know I have what I need from them.  They know a toy session will happen and understand the lack of finality of releasing a toy- they trust enough to let it go and that it’s done, for now.

Q: What is the big problem with teaching the out from a handler’s standpoint?

There are a number of things that go hand in hand.  First, not reading the dog and giving him a chance to be successful.  A good dog has drive and the handler needs to consider what the dog wants.  He wants his toy.  The release is a contradiction initially to the transaction.  

What we often see is that the dog will pull on the toy and if it’s a strong dog, the dog gets satisfaction from the pulling.  Often once the handler does get the dog to let go, IF the dog willingly lets go of it, the handler is often so quick to snatch it away from the dog- to remove any possibility from the dog’s point of view that he can get it back.  He’s actually really lost the toy, not simply released it.  We want the dog to make a choice to leave the toy alone, the opportunity to think about what he’s doing in the presence of the toy, to be an actual part of the process, to have some control in the matter.

In the past what a lot of people would do is put a leash on the dog to block the pulling behaviors, maybe do some type of coercion training to stop the pulling.  What I’ve found works really well and it doesn’t matter if it’s a puppy or a big dog is I’ll take a chair and place it along a wall close to a corner and work the dog up toward the wall.  I’ll sit down in the chair and place the dog so he’s backed toward the wall.  With a wall behind him and me in a chair, he can’t pull.  What you’ll see very quickly is that the dog will stop pulling because the behavior is taken from him.  So without gratification from that sooner or later the dog will let go.  We’ve just isolated a release to be clear now.  We can moment mark and give it right back to him.

So the pulling behavior is something I see with a lot of people including myself.  I’m not a huge person so if I have an 80 pound dog, it can be hard on my back.  

Another thing people seem to do almost instinctually is that when the dog let’s go, they move the prey away.  Instead of the dog moving away from the toy, the handler moves it away.  Movement is a super strong lure for the dog, it’s prey instinct.  The goal is really that the dog let’s go and the toy is static.  Any prey movement should only take place, if at all, after the moment marker.  So in a perfect world, the dog would release the toy, show impulse control, hear the moment mark and then bite the toy again.  The dog is showing super clarity here and what we should strive for.  


Q: In recap Dave for purposes of this interview, what do you think needs to be emphasized here?

To get the point hit home, we kind of decided the point of this interview was that I was seeing people not devoting enough separate, formal training sessions to any type of play predictability or teaching the dog some kind of game.  They just kind of assume that as the dog is older, we’ll start rewarding with a toy but there is no rhyme or reason to the system and then we create a whole other problem with the dog.  What is really important is that the rules are clear, we have lots and lots of successful practice and that the dog understands how to toy works in training and that an element of trust is maintained and perpetuated.

Now with dogs with less prey drive, we have to make some conflict with the dog sometimes to really get the dog to want it.   A lot of times I will tell people that if your dog doesn’t really want to possess a toy, don’t teach it an out yet.  In consideration of both realms, I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite here.  For a high drive dog I want to create impulse control but for a lower drive dog I want to create drive and interest in the toy so it’s really quite different than what we’ve discussed here.  That will be a great topic to cover in another interview and one I get asked about a lot as well. 

To be continued...


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