Well Day 3 of Tweener camp yesterday was as awesome as Days 1 & 2.  The highlights are numerous. One of the cool thing was the tug drive that has been created and maintained by students that have struggled with it in the past. I know Lynda has had private lessons with some of them to work on tugging and it really shows.

Can you imagine getting a Schnauzer to tug for the first time at the age of 5? Impressive eh? After years of only using food in training, to now be able to create tug drive is inspiring isn’t it? Well how about the fact that this 5 year old Schnauzer has NO TEETH!  Yep that’s right, he has learned to tug holding the toy between his gums and loving it!

We had a Samoyed that had little tug drive less than a month ago that started the weekend tugging, and was still had it at the end of the 3 day! There are alot of things you can try to help build tug drive. One idea I wrote up and you can retrieve from my website with the article entitled “How to Create A Motivating Toy”.

Often times creating the drive isn’t the problem, it is losing it along the way.

DeCaff diving for her tug toy.

DeCaff diving for her tug toy.

As we know all behaviours increase due to reinforcement and, in my opinion,  the number one reason dogs stop tugging is because people reinforce it. Yes you do!  Lets say your puppy was tugging madly and loving it,  so while working a recall the puppy races to you and you put down the toy to tug. However the puppy can smell that garlic liver in your pocket so he won’t tug.  You dance the toy around to try to get the puppy to go after it and finally you shove it in his face, still he won’t be persuaded. The puppy won’t tug. Meanwhile, you think you need to reward him for coming when he was called and since he doesn’t want the tug,  you give him the garlic liver in your pocket .  If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “dogs are far better at shaping people than people are at shaping dogs.”  Since reinforcement builds behaviour what did you just reinforce? You rewarded the dog for ignoring the toy and NOT tugging when asked. Reinforcement builds behaviour and that is exactly what you get, a dog that chooses not to tug when asked.

Creating tug drive often involved coming up with unique toys for your dog to tug on. It is no secret that , DeCaff, my Jack Russell Mix’s favourite toy is a plastic flyswatter. It is golden, she just loves it. I used the value for the flyswater to create tug drive for more “normal” tug toys. So at camp this weekend we came up with a list of  unique things that often inspire non-tugging dogs to want to tug. What have you used to create tug drive in a dog that previously was hesitant to tug? Let me know!

Today I am grateful for the gorgeous warm weather we have been having lately. Spring is on the way!