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 More gives a very efficient framework for us to work many skills. One of the skills that we can work with Bitework is leaping for a target.
There is not a lot of information out there on leaping for targets by four legged animals. Four legged animals and leaping, historically, has been all about leaping over obstacles. Putting a target up above a dog changes the entire nature of the leap.
We are going to go with the tried and true, maxim of positive dog training, reward and repetition using a high rate of reinforcement to isolate the leaping behavior to create muscle memory and add value to the leaping behavior.
Mixing Bitework and Leaping on the Railslide
At the base level, what we need to do is to get our dogs positioned on one side of the jump and place the Target/Tug in a Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the More that ensures that our dog leaps over the obstacle. How we do that, is what this lesson is all about:
Success Loop or Revolving Door of Rewards?
We are going to use our standard Bitework foundation and Rewarding with Action to get started. This gives us a quick and efficient set up and allows the dog to be in charge of when the game starts. All they have to do is give us attention. Or a better way to think about it might be,”The only way to start the game is with attention.”
Unsolicited eye contact or Attention is a great way to hook up with a dog. If you have something the dog wants he should give eye contact in order to More is reinforced with the Bite Cue and the presentation of the Target. The Bite Cue rewards the dog for Attention. So the dog learns that Attention earns the Opportunity to Bite.
When the dog bites we may or may not mark it, but we are going to treat the Drop Cue as reinforcement for the Bite. This may sound strange at first, but remember that The Drop Cue has tons of value because we have proven that it means the dog might get the Opportunity to Bite. If we have done our basic Bitework, and are patient and consequent handlers, our dogs will happily oblige. The A cued Drop, or Drop for short, means that you tell your dog when to drop, purposefully, and upon your discretion. A cued Drop is a must in the game More is then marked and rewarded with another Opportunity to Bite.
This game is like a revolving door of rewards. If we execute well, It becomes a Success Loop. Our dogs do not have the time to make mistakes because they are just too busy being successful.
What is a Railslide Jump?
The railslide jump is a simple piece of equipment made out of PVC pipe. The cool thing about this apparatus is that it is very simple, it’s very large so we can throw over it and move a bit while working, and it has no uprights on the ends like a normal jump so the handler can easily navigate the obstacle.
Our jump here is made from:
- 2 1″ elbows
- 2 1″ Ts
- 10′ of 2″pipe
- some 1″ pipe (jump risers and feet, and horizontal support into 2″pipe)