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The Introduction of Toy Interaction in the Working Dog with Dave Kroyer: Part 2

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

In this second part of a multi-session series on toy interaction, we discussed the out, play predictability and toy usage.  Part 1 can be read here.

Q: What’s Missing for Most People?

A: What’s missing is this really remedial game of picking up a toy and the dog being willing to release that one for a toss of another.   I want the dog to release one toy and travel through my legs to get the other one.  You can get a 2-3 minutes of repetition with this and maybe 4, 6, 8 throws or more on the field.  It becomes a VERY predictable game that I can use for the training.  It’s very simple and very remedial but a lot of people don’t use it.  So it’s real simple, like what Gottfried Dildei did in his videos, it’s just using two balls instead of two hoses and the dog is moving through the legs.  If the dog doesn’t release the ball, you just wait a moment and stimulate him with the other and when he drops it, you just toss the other through your legs and pick up the dropped one while he’s chasing the other.  The difference though is that I’m not going to rely on the transfer of the toy for the out.  

Q: What do you do differently?

A: Outside of that session, I’m working on the out in a very formal setting.  The two balls is a means to an end to get the dog coming back with a tight turn when he gets the first ball with speed and vigilance and going between my legs to understand later where I want to you to go with that first ball that I throw.  The second ball can be removed after awhile.  

Q: What role does trust play in this interaction?

A: I think it plays a big role because when I watch people, there are conflicting behaviors between them and their dog when they use the toy.  I think it all stems from a basic lack of trust.  

The dog thinks where am I getting the toy?  How am I getting the toy?  Should I just molest you for the toy?

I see that a lot because nobody puts in any time to create a predictable game with the dog, they just decide one day that they are going to reward with the toy. Because they have a dog that is very active for the prey, they may not have any impulse control so you see the dog nipping at them, biting at them and grabbing at jackets.  You wouldn’t believe the number of jackets and sleeves I see get ripped at seminars.   

Another thing I see frequently when using a ball is the dog biting the string.  The dog is frantic to get something but he’s never been TAUGHT to bite something or target something and that is another complete exercise itself.  You could do formal training sessions with just that but the dog is so anxious to get the toy and possess it, all forethought into a mutual interaction goes out the window.

Q: When you first start the out or release of the prey object, you prefer a tug, why?

A: I don’t want to say it’s more interactive with a tug, but in one way it is.  With the ball and a very strong dog, you can’t easily make the ball immobile when you’re trying to work on an inducive out.   With the tug I can manipulate and inducive out better because I’ve got two hands on it and I can completely immobilize it when I want the prey to go dead.   So that’s the tool I actually use to teach the act of outing.  

I teach the dog that the tug is an interactive toy and one I’ve established an out, there are things I do to teach the dog to interact with me and even push into me with the toy and engage with me with the toy and that it’s not something that they want to go lay down in a corner with and covet.  A lot of times people will say to me, ‘well my dog won’t bring it back to me’ and they’ll see my young dog who’s actually driving the tug back into me and they’ll say ‘well your dog is different’ and my comment is, “No, my dog was exactly like that but I had to do many, many sessions over days and weeks to teach the dog to interact with the toy with me”.

Q: When do you switch to a ball and why?

A: When all of the rules are in place with the out and interaction with me, I generally don’t use a tug in training any longer I’m going to use a ball on a string.  I can tug with the string and throw the ball with the string but the dog has already learned how to out off the tug and to return to me and drive into me and interact with me.

So with the game with two balls and the out itself there are rules and contracts.  Once those in place, training with prey can’t proceed but I see a LOT of people start early when the rules don’t exist and they never get the repetitions of behaviors to make them really clear before polluting things with lots of drive and overactivity.

I like to use the ball because I like to play fetch.  I can throw the ball down field or across a room and the activity of running helps free the dog’s mind up.  Running and action is great for freeing the dog’s mind up.  Because with my system we gets lots of repetitions, and maybe a very session of learning something and he did good, I want to be able to reward the dog and free their mind through running a bit.  

To be continued…


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