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Drive to Bring Back Tug Toy

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Bhaira

Belly Rub! Belly- Rub!
 
 
Barked: Sun Sep 30, '12 10:11am PST 
Hey everyone! Bhaira is very motivated by a good game of tug during training. When we're indoors, I'll throw the toy and she'll immediately bring it back for a game. Outdoors, however, she is much more likely to lie down and chew the toy after I throw it (I'm throwing it during distance work).

I'd like to increase her drive for bringing back the toy (like have her run towards me, not walk it over). I'd also like to for her to bring the toy back when we're outdoors.

I've tried putting her on a long line, but I'm not sure about the mechanics of this method. If she lies down, do I pull her back to me? How do I go about building drive for the toy itself? Do I pull back the toy instead (that seems counterintuitive, because she enjoys chasing after it). Any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Sun Sep 30, '12 12:22pm PST 
Based on your brief description of the situation, I would say that you need to increase the value of the actual game of tug. Engaging with you should be the rewarding part of the game and right now that obviously isn't happening. I would just work on tugging for now - make it super fun and engaging - and leave the throwing/bringing back part of the game for later, once Bharia is crazy for tugging in an outdoor situation.

Here is a link for a good method on how to increase toy/tug motivation:

Creating A Motivating Toy
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Bhaira

Belly Rub! Belly- Rub!
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 8:45am PST 
Thanks for the link Bosley!

Bhaira is REALLY into the tug game. But, you may have a point: it seems that outdoors, chewing is more rewarding than tugging. She WILL tug, and very enthusiastically, but given the option of tugging or chewing the toy, she chooses chew. So I guess I should build up the tug game from scratch outside...
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 12:21pm PST 
Bhaira, check out Denise Fenzi's blog: Clicky!

I know that she talks a lot about how to tug and how to engage your dog in a tug game.

I also have a chewer (and she also does victory laps with her toys), and I find that I can keep her focus and have her bouncing after me by tugging lightly with her and running (slowly) away from her. As soon as she catches up I'll tug with her again for a few seconds, maybe give her a light push on the chest and run away again, enticing her to chase me. It's a lot of fun! smile

As Bosley has mentioned, I'd save the tossing of the toy for later, when she is more engaged with you.

Another thought is that I know that Rexy will chew her ball-on-a-rope when she is feeling stressed, so sometimes a bit of chewing is just her releasing some of that stress.
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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 2:05pm PST 
Have you tried trading her a treat for the rope? Then you could give double rewards when she hustles.
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 2:13pm PST 
Kodiak, trading a rope/toy for a treat is often counterproductive when you are trying to make tugging the reward. Unless you have a dog that will 100% of the time, choose a toy over a treat, you are devaluing the meaning of tug by offering a treat. Giving a treat to reward the retrieve is fine, but in this case, it is the tugging that is supposed to be the reward. If the dog brings the toy expecting a treat they are really unlikely to engage in a game of tug. This dog just needs to learn that tugging is a great reward, no matter the situation.
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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 11:29pm PST 
I disagree. I think stimuli gain value when they predict food. Also, tug is essentially prey drive- most dogs don't need any training to learn that it's fun. The more rousing the game of tug is, the more likely the dog is to want to run off with the rope. By giving him a treat, you are rewarding him for giving up his prize, which is the least fun part of the game for him. It's the same mental process as rewarding a fetch. When Pigs Fly talks about both clicker training fetch in hesitant dogs to build up the reinforcing power of tug, and trading the dog for a cookie when he relinquishes the rope. But there's nothing wrong with using something that looks like a small animal, snaking the toy across the ground, or pushing against her chest, if she enjoys rough play, or just playing fetch instead, if that's what you're really after.
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Tue Oct 2, '12 7:50am PST 
The tug and the retrieve are distinct behaviors... as you've noted laugh out loud

Not to sound too much like a GSD person wink ... I would never let the pup have her tug as a chew toy... I have tugs of two types. Our informal tug/retrieve toy is a rubber ring which is not good for chewing and our formal training object is a fire hose tug... which is chewable, so not offered except as tug reward thinking

Absolutely use your 'tug drive' to reward retrieves. Start really short (just drop the tug and start tugging again if dog picks it up and offers)... then work up distance slowly. Also, work on the reverse... sit/stay release to hit the tug/come (count fingers before and after). Seriously, always consider safety with tugs... and make sure you are training your dog to avoid your fingers. Tooth on skin always means we take a break (5 min); second offense in same session... game over. Charka is, by now, darn good... but those canines are incredibly sharp shock
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Bhaira

Belly Rub! Belly- Rub!
 
 
Barked: Tue Oct 2, '12 11:27am PST 
Thanks everyone! This was incredibly helpful. We played the game Rexy suggested (light tugging, then trotting backwards), and got the tug back every time. It also increased the speed she brought it back with, something I am hoping to improve. I think this game will help with that.
I also realized the obvious thanks to y'all: I was throwing the tug from too far away. I was using it to reward her in place for far-away sits and downs, without first building value for bringing it back to me. I think the distance between me and the toy gave her a chance to chew the tug on the way over, and the chewing made her forget all about tugging. I'm shelving the distance work until I first get a solid "bring back the tug" behavior.

This morning I started asking for sits, dropping the tug by my side, and rewarding her stay with a release to get the toy. Since the tug was right next to me, the second she grabbed it I was able to start playing tug. I didn't get any "victory laps" or "keep aways". We gradually increased the tug's distance to about 5 feet and still got it back, so it seems like we're on the right track.

Thanks for your suggestions, it can take a village to see what's staring us right in the face. If you have any more suggestions for building value for bringing the tug back, please keep them coming.
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Oct 2, '12 12:28pm PST 
"The more rousing the game of tug is, the more likely the dog is to want to run off with the rope."

I very rarely see this happen with the terriers I train. (maybe it's a breed thing?) The point of tug for them is the interaction with me, the rope/tug toy isn't anywhere near as rewarding without me. Unmoving it's a 'dead' toy, once that happens they're quickly on to the next one as that's an appropriate prey drive sequence for them. That's not because I'm wonderful, it's because for these dogs food is not much of a motivator or reward to them so I've been using tug rewards since they were weeks old. They are all about the movement and thrill of the tug and hold. I use tug almost exclusively as a reward with these guys. They've got a specific tug toy for that purpose alone, it's never used for chewing or fetching. The best, their personal fave, is reserved for rewarding during training.

In fact, if they break off or 'win', their next behavior is to run at me with the tug reward toy in their mouth and butt me with it demanding more play. For whatever reason, they don't run away but almost always toward. Then I'll ask for whatever behavior we're working on and if they deliver, the tug game gets even better. So I've found the opposite to be true, the more rousing the game, the more tug they want. It lines up with their hunting style. For other breeds, though, it wouldn't surprise me if another part of the sequence was more rewarding for them.

I like Fenzi's blog, too. She's much better at putting the sequences in to words than I am. big grin
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