Session I – Getting Played
At the beginning of this session, Lindsay was getting played by Juicy. We can see that Juicy is doing her biting independent of Lindsay’s cuing.
Lindsay says something to the effect of,”I’m too slow…” others see it as the dog being “too fast”. Neither of these versions of reality are correct. It’s true, Juicy is moving too quickly, and Lindsay is a bit too slow, but that is missing the point of Bitework is an activity or a game that consists of biting and dropping a toy on cue. Cued Bites and cued Drops (and Gives) can be used to teach and reinforce many behaviors. Bitework is the framework to use to create a high rate of reinforcement and the repetition necessary to teach and hone skills. There are 3 rules in... and a Consequent Game which is that the handler sets the pace and the dog follows the cues of the handler.
Playing the game, as Lindsay did in the first session, is reinforcing the dog for acting on their own. It is reinforcing a lack of thought, planning and cooperation.
This is a place where most people get their butts kicked with Bitework. They wind up reinforcing the dog for flying around biting stuff, and that’s it. Not bad for Drive is focus and energy applied towards work. There are many kinds of Drive: social drive, tracking drive, prey drive, bite/kill, stalking, and food to name a few. Social drive, prey drive, and bite/kill are the types of Drive most active in the game of disc dog freestyle, and are all fairly desirable. Stalking and tracking drive can be tough... building, but not good at all for operant behavior.
Session II – Flipping it
In Session II, Lindsay comes out with a bit more control over the game. We talked about not falling into the game that the Juicy is playing, and requiring Juicy to conform to Lindsay’s pace of the game.
If Lindsay wants to slow down, all she has to do is to slow down. We can see that Juicy, nearly immediately, settles in to Lindsay’s game.
Another way to think of this is to add a pause between the Short for “Positive Marker”, a Mark is a word or signal given at the exact moment a desired behavior is performed. It’s like a clicker. Mark can also mean the act of marking behaviors. “Did you Mark that?” asks if the positive marker was given to tell the dog he was correct. When playing disc it is important to Mark... and the Bite Cue, but that’s not really the fix. The fix is for the handler to assume control over the pace of the game and dole out positive consequences for appropriate behavior on our terms and at our pace
We can see a huge change in way the game is being played.
Session III – Mark for Opportunity
In this third session, Lindsay gets a bit thrown at first because we add a new skill to the mix.
Immediately, Lindsay starts to let Juicy play her. Juicy knows the object of the game is to get over that leg, and if Lindsay allows her too, the game will quickly devolve into chaos as Juicy creates her own opportunity and seizes it.
We can see the negotiation take place in the first couple attempts at the over and Lindsay’s frustration at not being able to control the dog.
As soon as Lindsay starts to fall back into a Consequent Game, marking for the behavior we want, presenting opportunity as consequence for the successful performance of the behavior, her and Juicy settle into a really nice and controlled game.