Teaching the Release – Bad Dog Agility Academy

Teaching the Release

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  • Barb VE says:

    Here is Casper tugging.
    It is interesting to me that you labeled touching the dog during tug as “distraction”. I have always considered it part of the “fight” aspect. At any rate, he was very good. I did this in the barn to reduce his energy level somewhat.
    https://youtu.be/q5ukXVNBa2Y

  • L. Michelle says:

    I have added the release to our game like you suggested on my other two videos. I think our biggest challenge is that he has a really soft bite and isn’t always super enthusiastic about tugging. I have to work pretty hard to get what you see in the video. Any thoughts or do I just continue? https://youtu.be/xTVLH2aoIHQ

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Looks great, well done!! More of same, new places, gradually introduce distractions like objects on ground, empty food bowls, etc. https://link.getonform.com/view?id=no1rJVRQUObXQWqzngtS

      • L. Michelle says:

        Thanks! I have been trying to stand up more straight in my backyard and it’s going well. Today I brought his toy on our walk and I tried in two locations to get him interested. He was not at all. I even stood there for a while until he got bored and then brought the toy out and was super animated but no interest. I decided to try a third location and set up the video to show you and he actually tugged! First new environment. I used the leash to make the toy more interesting and he was grabbing a lot above the toy at the leash. In one of your first videos you talk about that. Do you have a better suggestion than what I did? I feel my leash/tug handling was messy in this video and I was mainly trying to reward him for actual tugging and did one thank you release. I am so thrilled he tugged in a new place and glad I didn’t give up after the first two
        https://youtu.be/sVEMhC3q2TQ

        • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

          FANTASTIC JOB!! You handled everything perfectly. I’m quite content to let a dog tug on the leash itself since that is usually my ultimate goal with a dog anyway. With a dog who tugs on a leash, you’ll almost always have a leash with you, including as you enter the ring, so you can enter the ring with the dog tugging on leash.

          I like to add some petting, where I sit on the ground and bond with the dog so they get some additional reinforcement, you can try this depending on the mood of you and your dog.

          After a great session like this the dog will be a little bit worn out so be careful about having a second session in the same place or even someplace nearby too soon. It might be better to bring the dog out a different day, but you can find out by trying to have multiple sessions out. I have packed the dogs up in a van and stopped in 4-5 different places and tugged for one minute and packed them back up and gone some place else.

          • L. Michelle says:

            Here is where we are at. The first link is with his preferred toy in my backyard. He’s getting much stronger and into it. The release is there sometimes, but not every time. Still working on that. The second video is my second time trying to tug with the holee roller. I left the whole thing so you could see how hard I had to work to get him into it. But success! We go out to different places to tug, I would say we are at about a 60% success rate. Sometimes he is just too interested in the world around and has zero interest in the tug toy no matter which one I take out. Sometimes I pack up and head somewhere else and have success and sometimes I just come home. He doesn’t run away with the toy really, but doesn’t bring it back. I don’t know if we are ready to add that at home? https://youtu.be/m7H0O4ZVGDU
            https://youtu.be/GXr9dKPxm9o

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            Great work again! I think you can add tugging while on a loose leash in your yard but in new places just keep working on combining the attention he offers with the tugging reward and focus on weight shift while keeping sessions really short. https://link.getonform.com/view?id=b3oCLx2SlqlrcLHPR3th

          • L. Michelle says:

            One question from the video feedback – if I am at a new location and present the toy, should I work at trying to get him to tug or just put it away if he isn’t interested at all? Usually I have to work at it somewhat like I did with the holee roller video

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            I think it’s okay to work at it but I’d watch closely–it’s hard to know where to draw the line but it’s ok to stop if he shows no interest at all.

          • L. Michelle says:

            I’m really struggling in new environments. He finds everything more stimulating and has no interest in the toy. I’ve tried a few things such as putting it on a leash, moving away from distractions, lowering my expectations, but I can’t seem to engage him. Any suggestions?

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            Start with hand touching and food and treats and non tugging play and rewards. When he’s more comfortable, preferably the next session, try tugging.

          • L. Michelle says:

            We continue to struggle in new environments so I’ve been working more at home to strengthen his tugging. He also prefers to tug in the evening. During the day if I bring him out he is often disinterested. I didn’t have the leash on in this video but have been practicing tugging with it on and it doesn’t seem to bother him. I’ve added in touches which he used to dislike as he’s a very soft dog but it fires him up a bit now. Still working on the release cue. Here he got distracted but I got him back which I was happy about as I don’t always.

            https://youtu.be/3rgON8sfy1o

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            Looks great! Keep up the good work!

          • L. Michelle says:

            Any suggestions for new places or different times of day, or where I should go from here?

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            You’re in that part of skill development where doing the skill in a way the dog enjoys will build value, so it makes sense not to push as hard. Avoid places they don’t tug well, focus on when and where they’re happy to play, use mostly the toys they enjoy, and think of it like brushing your teeth–you just do it but it’s largely unchanged. In a few weeks, you can add retrieve work on leash in their favorite place when they tug well.

            Getting the dog working in places they’re uncomfortable is unrelated to tugging–I’d prefer you work in those places with food and simple games and tricks the dog can do, and when they’re better with that then you can reintroduce tugging and see if it happens.

          • L. Michelle says:

            Thank you; makes perfect sense!

          • L. Michelle says:

            New question: when I take Tilly out in the mornings he mouths and want to tug with my mitts and boots. I will present the toy but he doesn’t engage, only with my mitts. Do you have suggestions? He is super fired up and would tug super on my mitts. I can take video if that would be helpful

          • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

            Buy more mitts to replace the ones you have, and tug with the ones he likes. You may find it’s how you tug rather than the mitts, but there’s only one way to find out!

  • alincoln1963@gmail.com says:

    Being that I’m starting this late in the game with a few bad habits built in (pup is 7 months) will this technique work for her?

  • WilliesMom says:

    At the end of this training session, when you wish to quit the session entirely, you allow the dog to run off with the toy and wait until they lose interest?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      It depends on the dog, I tried it with both puppies and the golden reached the point where she would bring it back and let me pet her while she held it. The poodle would not. After having this one year experiment, I would use it for dogs that value running off with it, but only in the beginning, and as soon as they learn the release, they should be left “wanting more” after a few re-bites, rather than allowed to run off with it.


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