Multiple Equal-Value Targets
Use multiple targets to create a higher rate of reinforcement and to establish more control over the mechanics of the game: bite, drop, and give.
Two or more equal-value targets are needed for smooth performance of this game. The objects should ideally be identical: same size, shape, color, degree of wear, etc. Choose similar objects to avoid the dog developing a preference for one toy over another. A disc dog should be flying around biting any disc and and every disc she is asked to bite not just the kind she likes.
When multiple targets are in play any toy the dog has in her mouth is a dead toy. The live toy is the one that is in the handler’s hand.
It doesn’t matter that the dog has “won” the toy, because what has she really won? That toy? It’s dead… but the one in your hand is not! Now you’ve got some power.
In addition to creating leverage, using multiple targets in bitework creates a more flexible game. CPM means cookies per minute. It is a fun expression for rate of reinforcement, a very important dog training concept. CPM should be between 15 to 30 CPM when learning and reward placement are far easier to manipulate with more than one target.
When the dog has dropped a toy and is tugging on the toy in hand for reinforcement, tug her right over top of the dropped toy and pick it up. Let her win, cue the drop, and BAM! Hit her with the cue to bite the other toy. Rinse and repeat.
Create & Leverage Game
Unfortunately we don’t get to choose what toys motivate our dog. Choose toys your dog values, something she loves to play with. Trying to create a complex and physically challenging game like disc or a simple but intense game like bitework will not work if the dog doesn’t like the toys.
A huge mistake that dog trainers make is putting too much focus on the toy and not enough on the game. Teach a dog to bite, drop, and give on cue and create a really challenging and exciting game out of it, a game where the dog knows how to make the excitement happen and that game is awesome. Any dog will love that game.
Once the dog loves the game, whatever it is, she will play it with anything from a hubcaps to pinecones.
High CPM and Many Reps
The rate of reinforcement in 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 is really hard to match. It’s entirely possible to get 100+ cookies per minute in this game. What dog wouldn’t want to play that game?
If the dog is successful 50-100 times per minute, there is literally no time for mistakes.
well (50 CPM) and not working well (0 CPM). It’s a much sharper contrast than 10 CPM and 0, right?
Bitework generates a high rate of reinforcement on the three key behaviors of disc dog freestyle: bite, drop, and give. A strong reward history can be created on all of three of these behaviors in a short period of time.
Think of the rate of reinforcement on the give in a typical retrieve. It takes three seconds to toss the toy, three seconds to go get it, three seconds to bring it here, one second to give it and give 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. That’s ten seconds for one repetition. It is no problem to get five reps of a give in that timeframe with bitework.
On a 40 yard toss and fetch throw, it is about 12-20 seconds between gives. That rate of reinforcement is too low to teach the skill and is certainly not high enough to avoid failure.
Get a bunch of successful repetitions of the behavior and many cookies per minute with bitework. Then leverage that rate of reinforcement and reward history to get the desired behavior.