Bitework 101 With Indy – Two Target Bitework

Footage from 2008 or so with Indy.


    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Alright Jeff!
      Good stuff… Sam looks like he’s going to take off in this class.

      A couple of things…

      Mark the Criteria

      Per the conference call, the criteria should be removal from the hand. You seem to be marking the Bite and allowing him to win. The allowing him to win part is good, and is helping him play more aggressively, but the part that is missing is the clarity on the criteria of removal from the hand. I don’t think he’s getting that. If you start to mark that removal from the hand he’ll start to tear it away from you. And that is a good step towards getting an aggressive Bite.

      Drop is the Key

      After he wins, what is your problem? What is the thing getting in the way of your continuing to jam? Seems to me it is the Drop. He seems to maul it a bit after he wins… makes sense, right? He earned it. Nothing else is really going on… “Jeff will step in and start the game up when I’m done maulin’ it…”

      All you have to do here is either call the Drop and mark and reinforce with another Bite or Freeshape the Drop and mark and reinforce with another Bite or a tossed toy.

      When he realizes that if he stops Mauling he gets to play a more exciting and energetic game, he’ll stop Mauling and Drop. Positive Markers make great interrupters. All we have to do is find a suitable behavior to Mark. If the dog has a solid understanding of positive training, he’ll stop what he’s doing and take a look for his opportunity and there you will be drawing him into another round of the game.


      He checked out there in the middle, I think, because you were really pressuring him positionally. For dogs, frontal positions – face to face – create a lot of pressure. Also leaning forward adds pressure as well. This pressure is liable to make the dog avoid certain situations. There’s some stuff on Pressure on the Theory Page

      I think that’s what happened here. Tight confines… handler pressuring him… tough job… not at all surprising.

      Be careful pressuring him with your body.

      Where to Go?

      Start marking the removal from the hand so you can get a solid, scalable criteria for Sam to achieve. Right now, it’s hard to scale up the Bite, but if the goal is to remove it from the hand, it is quite easy to provide more and more resistance.

      When he wins, just call the drop and watch for his teeth to come off the toy. That is the criteria for a drop. It doesn’t matter if he drops it to re-Bite it. Just mark the teeth coming off the toy and present the Target with the Bite Cue. Don’t think so much in terms of Rewarding the Drop with a Bite. Think more along the lines of “Dropping Makes the next bite happen”.

      You need a bit more space to work in, Jeff. You also need to bump up the energy level in your presentation a bit.

      Hope that helps.
      Go Sam!

      BTW… Nice iMovie Chops… 😉

  1. Jeff

    A-ha! Okay, that’s astonishingly helpful, Ron. Thanks. I see how I’m marking the wrong thing and we’ll work on “owning the drop.” The position thing is a revelation to me. Sam does tend to play more vigorously when I’m on my knees, closer to his level. Do you suppose that’s related? But is standing better nevertheless?

    The energy level I can easily control (I think I was weirdly self-conscious about the filming!); the space- alas!- is another matter. We have a tiny house (with tiny rooms) on a nice big piece of property, so it’s either too little room (inside) or too much (out). But I’ll try moving some more furniture around.

    We are indeed stoked, Ron– thank you. I forgot it was 2011 when I made the trailer!


  2. GSPDiscDog

    Loved Jeff’s video. Mine, when it does finally happen won’t have nearly as great an intro if it has an intro at all.

    Darwin is responding well to the positive marker when he takes his toy from me. He actually brings the toy back to me (this is a first) so he can take it from me again. He LIKES this new game. Sometimes he even drops the toy for me to pick up so he can take it from me again (which is a throw back to our earlier not very successful “back chaining the retrieve” days). Darwin is trying to elongate the time we play this game, but I’m limiting him to no more than 3 times per day, no longer than 90 seconds each time. I’m the one who decides if we will play or not. Your advice on this Ron was great. Hopefully this is the start of a bit of toy drive for Darwin. What do we need to do next? Elongate the tug?

    I’ll need to watch my body language too. I’ve done the same thing with Darwin and put too much pressure on him causing him to shut down in exactly the same manner as Sam.

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Awesome, Sheridan!
      What you want to do now is to increase your resistance to taking it from your hand. Just a hair, but increase it.

      Darwin actually might not be able to pull the target from your hand every once in a while. That’s OK. Just make sure he’s successful enough that he keeps playing. The idea here is to slowly but surely up the ante by holding onto the toy a bit harder.

      Eventually he will have to tear the object from your grasp, but that’s eventually.

      Great job quitting early on him. That is super important.

      Keep it up, Sheridan!

      In the Week 1 Conference call on the Weekly Lesson Page there is a great discussion on working with dogs that do not bite.


  3. Jeff

    Can’t wait to see the video of Darwin! Sounds like there’s lots we can learn from it.

    Now one more thing from us. We just had a little session where Sam, characteristically, mostly wanted to do a little mauling and self-rewarding after “winning.” I tried marking for taking his teeth off, etc. and sometimes that works and sometimes not– the mauling is just too interesting for him, I guess. So what I started to do instead is, when he starts the mauling, I end the game (for 10 or 20 seconds) by walking away with the toys and kind of ignoring him. This seemed to work a bit. Good idea or bad idea?

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Sometimes it works and sometimes not?

      So what do you want to do with that?

      We are looking to reinforce the Dropping behavior so that it happens more frequently.

      Quitting on Sam is a viable tactic… if he really wants to play. Keep it in your toolbox, but work on reinforcing the Drop instead of packing it in and quitting.

      Try freeshaping the Drop. Wait for Sam to take his teeth off the toy and then mark it. Immediately offer a Bite or toss. If he doesn’t come off the toy for the target, just take it in stride.

      If, after 30 seconds to a minute, Sam doesn’t come off the toy, or if at any time you’d like to stop the maulin’ behaivor, just walk in and slowly pick up the toy and restart.

      Just be aware that as you interrupt this mauling behavior you are doing little to make it less likely to happen.

      It feels silly while you are doing, but if you mark the Drop and present an opportunity to bite as reinforcement, even if they don’t take it every time, they are taking the opportunity and the Drop behavior, due to the positive mark, has told Sam that the Drop made that next thing happen.

      Take your time and add your value. We don’t need to punish Sam for a skill he doesn’t know yet. And besides the game is not valuable enough yet to Sam for the removal of the game to be of importance.

      Be patient and aloof. Wait for the drop to happen and mark it. If he doesn’t come off the toy, who cares… we can wait for it to happen again… Don’t be desperate to have Sam do this it puts you in a bad position.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Jeff

    Yes, okay, that helps a lot. It’s the standing there feeling silly, I think, that has made me a little impatient. Thank you!

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