Let's talk tug

General issues of training/education
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centrop67
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Let's talk tug

Post by centrop67 »

The tug toy on the right is Radar's old tug toy. The one on the left is Mustang's new tug toy.

It's obvious that both dogs loved to bite the corners.

I've heard the term training targeting and I believe it has something to do with getting the dog to grab the right location on whatever you're asking them to bite.

Also obvious is that I have no clue how to train that. :D

For Radar, I bought a tug with handles inside to keep my hands safe. :wtg:

Tug was Radar's favorite pastime. Mustang not so much.

Nevertheless, I want to start off on the right foot, so what is your favorite way to train the proper targeting?

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Michael
Location - Cutler Bay, FL USA
Image RIP: Radar, Tequila, and Snickers
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers
Tim91118
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by Tim91118 »

First off, I never let them have a toy like that and run off with it to chew on it. These look like they had free reign of them. A tug toy is only for tug . Presentation of the tug toy is for the dog to grab it with full grips. This would be in the middle for me, and never on the end. You don’t need to be swinging it around for the dog to grab it. This way you don’t get bit. Hold it on each end and present it slowly. The dog should grab it. Don’t try and pull it from his mouth, but firmly pull it away to keep him balanced on all fours with a constant steady pressure.
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by ladyjubilee »

Hmmmm. I think "target" must have multiple meanings depending in what/purpose of training.

In Bramble's training target training was an evolution. We started with a folded up paper with black tape. When she touched it she got a reward. We started varying the height and placement of the item, while still actually touching. Then we put the same tape on a nylabone and upped the challenge by having her actually open her mouth on it. At the same time we started introducing other items with a reward when she touched. Then we started guiding a more intentional move to take the items....then moved our hands further away...and then transitioned the bone to the headphones. Now she goes to the headphones and pulls them off an s hook--from a stroller that sometimes moves--- to give to my son.

We just tug for fun and as reward for alerting when the bus comes....and I didnt know the rules, so thats probably why my fingers have been nipped. She has a really long tug that gives me a little more leverage while keeping my fingers safer. I don't let her chew her tug.
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by ICE »

I agree with Tim... A tug is interactive the dogs doesn't get to "keep" it. I see so many people letting a tug hang sideways and say ok doggie get it... Think about it. You truly expect the dog to run in turn his head completely sideways and grab the tug in the middle? While your dog is learning to target always present it the way Tim explained. Start by just holding the handles tightly, you will find that soon you will be able to hold both ends of the tug and not get nipped when the dog strikes.
Also very important is how you play tug. You need to bend over not pull the dogs front feet off the ground. The goal, at least for me, is when I am tugging ICE's neck stays inline with his back.
If your dog goes for the handle - stop the play and restart. The game doesn't continue with your teeth on the handles.
I much prefer 2 handled tugs. They are easier to present and hold on to while tugging.
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by centrop67 »

Tim91118 wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:37 am These look like they had free reign of them. A tug toy is only for tug
I assure you they never had free reign with them.

Radar wanted to play so bad that whenever I released it to him he would immediately punch it back in my stomach.

Mustang does not punch it back to me, but he does not get an opportunity to chew it unsupervised.
Tim91118 wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:37 am Presentation of the tug toy is for the dog to grab it with full grips. This would be in the middle for me, and never on the end. You don’t need to be swinging it around for the dog to grab it. This way you don’t get bit.
I've got puncture scars on both thumb-forefinger webs from doing this. Even if they bite the middle, it seems like a readjustment on there part is inevitable.
ladyjubilee wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:20 am We just tug for fun and as reward
That's why I tug with Mustang, and that's why I want to fix what I did wrong with Radar.

Of course, I 'll be talking with my trainer about it.
ladyjubilee wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:20 am I think "target" must have multiple meanings depending in what/purpose of training.
Yes. The results for a Google search are geared towards what you're familiar with, but then there are also results on target training for bite work.

Mustang does not have bite work in his future, but tug is one of the few things I can do to engage with him outside obedience training. He is real finicky about fetch, but is good at engaging with me in tug.

Thanks guys - all good comments. Let's keep 'em coming. I think this is a cool topic for this breed.
Michael
Location - Cutler Bay, FL USA
Image RIP: Radar, Tequila, and Snickers
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers
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centrop67
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Tell us about yourself: Accidentally adopting a Dutch Shepherd when I had no idea about the breed led me to research and act on all of his needs. This site was a key component to making things right for Radar, so when the original owner was calling it quits, I stepped in to keep the site running.
Location: Cutler Bay, FL, USA

Re: Let's talk tug

Post by centrop67 »

ICE wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 3:21 pm If your dog goes for the handle - stop the play and restart. The game doesn't continue with your teeth on the handles.
That would have definitely worked with Radar. :wtg:

Mustang will look at me for a minute, and go do something else. :cry:
Michael
Location - Cutler Bay, FL USA
Image RIP: Radar, Tequila, and Snickers
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by ladyjubilee »

Anytime I've gotten nipped while tugging has been my fault. I get distracted or moved wrong. Bramble usually adjusts before I even realize I have been nipped. Just those teeth are like razors!
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by TimL_168 »

Ditto Tim and Patty!
One thing I've learned is the value in building drive for the tug. Another is keeping the tug still as the dog comes in to grip. Endeavor learned very quickly to anticipate where I was going to move to tug. When I tried to switch things up, my hand would end up where she expected the tug to be. Luckily, she likes me😜. All of my dogs, especially En get their jollies by surgically removing the effing webbing from toys, backpacks, hats etc. Luckily En has stuck to her toys. Again, ditto the special status of a tug. Also the horizontal presentation. If Endeavor tries to go for a handle, I give the out command no more than twice. If she doesn't comply, I'll press the carnassials just a little bit. On a side note, I trained a hand cue for OUT by doing just that. I'll note that I know my dog enough and we have a solid relationship that I'm not in danger during play. If she were on something very high value (squirrel, small dog, compact suv) I would not attempt that.
In closing, I think the key is presentation. That and building drive for the tug. The game has to take on a huge importance to the dog.
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by TheVII »

We presented our trainer with the toys we used, he basically told is to scrap em. And recommended a folded leather tug, it has the loop attached to one end and can be unrolled at the other.

As we are still a puppy, unrolled side is actually more effectively as it encourages the pup to bite down with rear mollars for best grip and puts almost no stress on her teeth anywhere else. Or I can roll it up into a leather roll and play like regular tug.

Her favorite part...is obviously the loop...

At this time we are focused on obedience portion. But the trainer recommended we buy the possession games video by Ivan Balabanov (trainingwithoutconflict). After watching the video I think my play with Mox improved a lot, and I think we both are having more fun. (My girlfriend and one of the trainers did mention that he's a bit hard to understand as he has an accent)

In the video Ivan said something along the lines of:
When he goes to seminars there is always someone with and extra long tug toy. And that person still gets his hands bit.

His concept implies that the game must have a goal, rules and penalties. If the dog breaks the rule there is a penalty. Biting hands is a penalty. Penalty might be correction for example, or taking away the toy. Both the dog and the person must be having fun and egaged for the tug game to be effective.

In our case Moxie went for the hands, whenever we had something she was interested in. She went straight for the hands didn't even bother aiming for the item. We did not notice it, attributing the tendency to her being a mouthy breed. Trainer, pointed out that it is an issue in our case, dog is showing attitude, and the behavior needs to be stopped at the early age.

We had to harshly correct her, once by the trainer (boy she flat out fought him for a bit didn't expect that from a 4 month old), once by me, once by my girlfriend. We didn't have to do more than a tug on her collar since for her to stop biting on hands.

In our case that also translates to her aim in the toys she aims for the center. I can grip the tug with 4 inches between my hands. And she goes there. As mentioned above by others this isn't bullet proof, as not paying attention leads to me accidentally putting hands into the path of her mouth. (Worst is needle tooth going deep under thumb nail...and then finally forgetting about it and reaching for spicy finger food....)

Someone suggested cutting the loops off, but I just stopped grabbing the tug by the loops, and the dog kinda lost a lot if interest in the loop since I stopped grabbing it. When she does (her mouth kind of ends up there after a win, when I let her play with her spoils as a reward) I just grab the other end without a loop and she starts playing with that end. Another option is two of the same toys and when dig goes for the loops you switch the the other toy showing the dog its more fun.
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Re: Let's talk tug

Post by ladyjubilee »

Bramble caught on pretty quickly that if she bit down on my hand, tug stopped.

We used tug as a reward when she would alert to the bus. We've dropped that reward, but Bramble will still put her mouth around my hand-with out biting down. Now, Bramble is never allowed to bite, because of her job; but the point is I think if it works for you and your dog, then do what works.

Which I guess leads into a thought I had recently. I most definitely believe in training. For us, training is a life long commitment in order for Bramble to keep working and learn new tasks. We work with a professional and will for the rest of her life. But my son is a better handler than me. No rewards, no tools, no toys, pfft no commands, and still she does what he wants her to do. The only time she won't is when he is getting ready to lose it (smart dog). So, he doesn't use tools and techniques the "right way", but that actually seems to be his strength as a handler. He doesn't sweat the act of handling. He just does.

Lately, I've been trying to emulate his style (well, except I'm verbal ;) . I've tried just doing, instead of worrying about the techniques and tools. Bramble has learned three new commands and it was just so easy and natural.

So that is totally irrelevant, but where my brain has been going lately.
Pack: Peanuts-terrier mix, 16-18 years old, Bramble-Dutch Shepherd, 3 yrs
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