Since I was stuck at home being sick until this afternoon when I got to enjoy the sun with Penny and Badger and Lumen, I decided that I’d give obsessively looking for ways to increase motivation and play a rest and read the old sample issues of Clean Run.
Well, whaddya know, there were at least 3 articles on play and tugging. How convenient.
So I read them through and one stood out more than the others- and I can’t remember exactly who wrote it, but they made a point that I’d heard before but maybe this was explained better or something… and that is that you need your toy/tug to be prey (and I know, Silvia always says this but I suppose I got to the ‘drag it around really fast until caught’ stage but then didn’t know what to do from there) and that there are several stages of the chase/kill that you should go through in order to really make it fun for the dog. Those being:
see/smell the prey (works pretty well when I pull out a toy and draw in a long breath of anticipation)
track it, chase it
pounce on it, bite it
So in the past I’ve done a lot of track and chase, but gotten stuck there, and more recently I’ve done a lot of tear/kill/tug without the other stuff…
This afternoon I put it all together while we were doing some shaping and she was into the toy and she game. I also stopped making noise while tugging (one of the articles said that, too) and I’ve been making sure that I keep putting the toy away when she still wants to play.
I don’t think she’ll ever be super obsessed and run full-speed to a dead toy – I can get her to do it inside though so maybe outside is possible, I just have to actually train it outside, too.
Oh! I also learnt that if she lets go of the toy, it needs to escape – not be offered back to her mouth. I find sometimes this works (and she gets to chase) but sometimes it doesn’t work (she chases but doesn’t grab it again to tug – it’s easier for her to chase it, kind of grab it, then for me to offer it to her for a tug session right then).