Case Study: Success with the Dog – Bad Dog Agility Academy

Case Study: Success with the Dog

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  • L. Michelle says:

    This is my second dog who is an avid tugger – but also loves to run away with the toy. I tried the opposition reflex here and she ran away anyways. Any thoughts?

  • janetandzinnie says:

    I have a few marker words, all of which except one mean she is getting food. The one that means toy is a thrown toy (at this point, a lotus ball with food inside). I am not sure what marker word to use for this exercise.

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      For ME, “get it” is permission to grab the toy. Whether that toy is on the ground, or presented in my hand.

      So for you, you could be the same marker that means she can get the thrown toy. Or you can introduce a new one.

      Have you done any “enticement”?

      What marker would you use for something like that?

      • janetandzinnie says:

        yes I have, and I use “get it”. So that is what I will do, thanks!

        • janetandzinnie says:

          sorry, I went back to review the video on using the opposition reflex, and re-heard that I am supposed to use the marker word before presenting the toy. Is “get it” still appropriate? thanks again

          • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

            Ok – so in this case we use a marker word that simply means “you were correct” – the equivalent of a click. That’s the “yes”. That happens before presenting the toy, then we give our “get it” cue as we present the toy. That is permission to grab the toy, but, of course, that “get it” also functions as a marker since they love to tug, so they are very happy to hear that “get it” cue.

            This wasn’t as clear in the voiceover, Esteban said to “mark” then “present the toy”, but we do always include the cue “get it” when we present the toy and you can hear the sequence at the end when it’s played in real time.

            So do you have a marker that is the equivalent of a click? You can think of it as you are marking as correct the bounce back toward you. And the reward for bouncing back toward you is a high value cue “get it” and then ensuing tug.

          • janetandzinnie says:

            I do have a marker word, which means she is getting food – so I could say “yep”, give her the treat, then say “get it” and present the toy?

          • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

            You could – but I prefer to keep food out of tug training when possible. Lots of dogs that struggle with tug have a preference for food. Once the food is available, they no longer want to tug as much. So switching between food and toys is really an advanced skill.

            Of course, you can train tugging as a BEHAVIOR rather than as a REWARD. But I like to reserve that as last resort.


            I think before I added food to the mix, I would try just dropping the “yes” marker and letting the “get it” function as the marker and cue.

  • says:

    We have been playing around with the retrieve game a bit. I have attached a clip from our outside practice. I try to make both toys the kind he likes. I am rather awkward with the mechanics and timing but will continue to work on that. I also am chattering a bit here. You will see at the end where he starts to rip at the toy but changes his mind.

    The questions I have today are:
    1. During a previous session he insisted on having 1 toy over the other. How should I handle that?
    2. Would it be better to work on the retrieve indoors until more proficient and then go outside?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      GREAT JOB!!
      #1 Tug with the lower value toy, so when you let go and mark and present the second toy, he is more likely to come, as you are holding the higher value toy.
      #2 I think you’re fine to work outdoors.

      Tips for success: Once you’ve said “yes!” you can and should immediately present the toy, shake it around, whatever you want. Just make sure the yes comes before you whip the toy out, but whip it out right away!! It’s not luring because the “yes!” has already been said, so the proper behavior has been marked, so you don’t have to wait for him to come to you…that’s not the behavior we’re marking. Go ahead and repeat the exercise a few times, with maybe 3-4 of these per session, keep it high energy, and this time, present the toy and move backward (without yanking him by the leash) as soon as you say “yes!” which should be almost right away as you push into him a bit. Go ahead and push a little more gently as well, just in case that is throwing him off a bit (I think he’s ok though).

  • cynthia says:

    Well done Susan–thank you for the demo. This is brilliant.

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