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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Let's play tug!!
Barked: Tue Oct 2, '12 12:57pm PST 
That's interesting. I think it's probably true that different stages are more reinforcing for different dogs/breeds. Kodiak will play for 30 seconds and then run off with the rope, chewing on it and tossing it to himself for half an hour. He doesn't care about how he gets it- he just wants it. Smokey is much more excited about the actual tug part. He will leap feet into the air to grab it, jump on and off the bed, straddle my forearm for leverage, growl at it, try to climb up my body to get to it, etc. It's really cool to see him come out of his shell. But if I drop the rope, he immediately switches off, whimpers like 'why did you ruin the fun?', and nudges the rope toward me. If he 'earns' possession of the rope after a lot of effort, though, he will sometimes turn his back to me and chew on it for a minute before bringing it back. It may explain why Smokey was relatively easy to teach to fetch, but I've tried for many hours with Kodiak and been unsuccessful. In any case, I think it makes sense to reinforce whatever part of the game is least fun for the dog in order to remove the weakest link in the process.

Take That!
Barked: Tue Oct 2, '12 4:29pm PST 
introduce something called the "2 toy game". this is played with two tugs ot two toys. get her really amped about one of the toys, running with it, tugging with it with her, becing vocal and telling her how great she is while tugging. Then, suddenly drop the toy, and pick up the other one, run with it and swish it on the ground and be very enticing with your body language and high pitched noises. as soon as she grabs your toy, have a good game with that, when switch to the other toy. What this teaches is that the only toy that is really fun is the one YOU currently have. it biulds drive for playing with you, teaches a good exchange, and builds toy drive. Ninja has been playing this game since he was 8 weeks, and he loves it.

The other thing i like to do is when i have a tug toy i play a good tug game, randomly releaseing the toy and "letting him win", and then running a short distance being very exciting and clapping my hands. as soon as he gets to me a grab the toy he has and continue the tug game. its basically a keep away game, you are being exciting, and when the dog reaches you the ultimate reward is a GREAT tug game. When i tug with Ninja i am very vocal and happy in tone, I slap him on his sides and give slack and also reel him in, and then let him win. Now when he has his tug, i will suddenly stop the game and take off running. He charges after me and when he gets to me he jumps up at me presenting the tug and trying to get me to take it. When i do, HUGE game.

You can also teach a "touch" where the dog touches your palm with her nose. Once you have that down pat you can shape a "touch" when she is holding a toy, and the second she touches start tugging with the toy. The reward for touching your hand is a tug game. I put the touch on cue before add the toy aspect.

Any of these games need to start in the house or in a small space so you can more easily control the toy and enviornment so you make sure you are the most exciting. Then you slowly take it out in your yard, and elsewhere, until you are in the park.

Barked: Wed Oct 3, '12 12:28am PST 
Are you using the same toy outside as inside? My Staffy used to do this but I have a different toy for outside, each time he brings it back he is rewarded with a short game of tugger, now he picks the toy up and brings it back without any problems..

Personally I couldn’t care less what drive gets Cyril to bring the toy back, it has no relevance with how I taught him to bring the toy back, it just confuses the issue by trying to work out what drive is needed, that can be worked out later when he is bringing the toy back. Thanks to so much technical wording these days our dogs and ourselves are loosing out trying to work it all out first instead of looking at the dog and trying to work out what will work for HIM. Every dog is different and needs different ways to get them to do what we want, the drive doesn’t matter. By teaching the dog first and working out the drive later, we also get a better understanding of what drives are, same with many things with our dogs.

The toys I use for Cyril are different, the tuggers in the house I make myself out of fleece, the toy for outside is a bright yellow rubber tugger, much easier for him to see and follow with his eyes to work out were it has dropped. The previous tugger wasn’t so easy for him to find as the colour blended in with the grass so he soon lost interest.

I have found that fetching the tugger back has also helped improve Cyril’s recall, by giving him the command as he brings it back he has started to come back every time the command is given, with or without the tugger.

Never pull a dog back when they are on a long line, you can hurt the dog as you drag her along the ground which will make your dog more reluctant to come back to you and may damage the recall.

I will turn and run the other way, hide behind bushes etc, at first I used to tell Cyril what I was doing but don’t know, I hide and wait for him to notice he isn’t around. Once he has found me I give a treat and play a game of tugger with him, I have a spare one in my pocket just for this.

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Wed Oct 3, '12 11:49am PST 
Michael Ellis has several DVDs about playing tug with dogs, even with young puppies, and engaging your dog. He is a great trainer. You can find short videos of his on youtube. Ignore the fact that they are produced by Leerburg if that bothers you.

I second Denise Fenzi, esp. her idea of "Be the Bunny."
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