Any suggestions for a 1 year old lab that engages well, takes the tug on command, and enthusiastically plays and outs well but will not bring the tug back to me?
This is a follow up question to using a tug for reward.
To this point, my 1 year old lab engages well, takes the tug on command and enthusiastically plays and outs well. The problem I'm having is the return. As long as she is on a long lead, she never bales but her returns are unenthusiastic. She will also try to play keep away or stand in place and shake the tug or drop it a few feet away from me. I tried to shape with food but the moment she realizes I have food she drops the tug. I have tried to act very excited and even tried running in the opposite direction when she is coming back to me after a short toss. I would love to have her push the tug back into me on the return to re-engage the game.
In all other aspects, she is a fast learner and in an obedience setting does extremely well. This is really the only hitch that she has thrown at me in training. I would really like to switch from food to tug rewards. Any suggestions?
When I am dealing with a dog that does this I get the help of a second person and have them handle my dog's leash. I play tug with the dog with the helper holding the leash and then the second person takes the dog and runs them in a circle and right back to me with the tug in their mouth. I tug, release the dog with the tug in his mouth and the helper runs the dog in a circle and right back to me.
We show how to do this in The Foundation of Puppy Bite Work w/ Michael Ellis. This is how we work possessive puppies and young dogs to teach them to bring back the tug to us. You basically are not allowing them to make any choices at first and building a habit of getting the tug and then returning to you for more play and then being released again in a controlled way to encourage the behavior we want.
I do all the foundation work for bitework with my puppies, even those I never plan on doing bitework with ( my border terrier, cattle dog, corgi, etc) It builds a great foundation for using the tug as a reward to be used in agility or competitive obedience.
Thank you for the advice. I truly appreciate your wealth of experience and input. I will certainly look into purchasing the above video.
I also want to say how happy I am to have found your site. Being located in a rural area of Nebraska, I simply do not have access to quality dog training education. In my area, AKC obedience is the only game around, and I have not been very impressed with their training program. The Leerburg videos, and outstanding instructors, have been a invaluable asset and has made training a fun, exciting and bonding experience for both myself and Lily.