The beautiful thing about the drop is that it always happens, eventually. All you have to do is wait.
The key here is not to cheerlead the dog when they are leaving with the toy. Chattering or moving with a lot of animation while the dog is checking out can wind up reinforcing the running away with the toy behavior.
Freeshape or Predict and Cue the Drop
If the dog leaves with the toy, it’s cool. Just chill out and freeshape or predict and cue the drop just like normal.
Whether the dog leaves to take a victory lap, or to do a bit of mauling, or if she just likes to gather toys to a particular 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, just watch and be prepared to capture and reinforce her when the teeth come off that toy.
If the teeth come off, mark it,”Yes!” and offer an exciting cued bite or roller. Or perhaps you animate your body.
It’s as simple as that. Remember that it doesn’t matter why the teeth come off, just that they come off. Teeth come off all the time if the dog is chewing or playing around with the disc.
Walking slowly towards the disc can give you a better chance to gain control over the situation, but don’t move too fast or you risk creating another game.
Regrab or Keep Away to Manufacture a Give
Speaking of another game, this might sound crazy, but a game of keep away can be the silver bullet for teaching a The Give is a retrieve to the hand. A cued Give is a foundational skill that is not super useful in the actual performance of disc dog freestyle, and has.
This is a bit unorthodox, but quite effective, and it is a great last ditch effort to keep a dog from checking out and taking the toy off on her own.
The one problem with freeshaping the drop in this situation is that the time spent doing the undesired behavior is time that should be dedicated to playing disc. Whether it be running around like she stole it or lying down to get down to some serious mauling or chewing in, it is possible to unintentionally teach the dog that chewing or running
around with the disc is what the game of freestyle is about simply because an awful lot of time is spent doing those things.
A regrab can be used to fix this. Just run right up to the dog and do a little regrab, let her win, and run away or regrab again. A few repetitions of this will help her understand that being around the handler or sharing the disc is highly rewarding. Or that you are going to get the disc, which will help to interrupt and put a halt the undesired behavior.
A dog can’t chew on or lie down with the disc if the handler is regrabbing it.
If your dog runs away from the regrab, it’s simply a new game. Chase her a bit, threatening to steal her toy and then disengage.
The game of keep away is only interesting if someone is chasing her, so once she gets interested in this new game, just sit back and wait.
She will bring the disc close to entice you to engage in some keep away.
Hold tight until the dog gets close enough for a regrab and then grab it and let her win. A few regrabs and she will realize that carrying the disc around the handler creates opportunity for play.