Attention & Drop as Secondary Reinforcer

Lesson Progress:
    We’ve been talking about Unsolicited Eye Contact, aka Attention, over the last week. Most of the time we’re talking about it in the context of a game of disc, and this is what it looks like.


    Eye contact in the presence of a disc earns the opportunity to bite the disc. It’s brutally simple and effective for keeping dogs off of the handler and for helping them understand when it’s acceptable to bite. Along with the much needed patience aspect of the Attention behavior, we also get to make looking at the handler a super cool experience, something that the dog looks forward to happening. This is a huge deal for many teams, as there are more than a few disc dogs out there who don’t even know their handler is there, much less look at them.

    When the dog has a history of looking at the handler and having awesome things happen, the dog looks at the handler more frequently. If our dog is actively looking at us we’re in a better position to hook up as a team.


    The second portion of this quick video is just a bit of Bitework with the focus placed on the Drop behavior. The dog is biting and dropping, over and over. The Cued Drop becomes valuable because of it’s prediction of Bite. Essentially what we want to do is to teach the dog that the cued Drop makes the Bite happen.

    When the dog believes that the cued Drop makes the Bite happen, the dog will spit out the disc on cue.

    Secondary Reinforcer

    The really cool aspect of this drill is that these two behaviors, dropping a disc and looking at the handler, become Secondary Reinforcers because of their relationship to the Bite and the awesomeness of the Bitework game. The cued Drop allows the Bite and Tug to happen. Offered Eye Contact also makes good things happen.

    Give it a shot. If you have Attention for Cookies, this is no different. Same drill. Treat your discs like cookies. If you don’t have Attention, here’s how:

    1. Wait for your dog to give you Eye Contact…
    2. Mark it and reward with a Bite, Roller or Throw.
    3. Repeat

    Like I said, brutally simple.

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