reinforcing a give

DiscDog Mechanics | Reinforcing a Give with a Tugging Take

This really is an old lesson. It’s part of our foundation. I use this to teach dogs and teach people a Give all the time. That said, this is a bit of a different approach than normal, not technically or mechanically, but mentally. This session is just another layer of the learning onion, one more time of learning the same lesson, over and over…

So What’s New?

Nothing really. Just the clarity in my head in my approach.

The idea here is brutally simple: contrast the Give and Bite (tug) behaviors in a Golden Ratio of Reinforcement (3 strong to 1 weak) and leverage the energy level of the game created and the contrast of clear criteria to reinforce the behavior I’m looking for.

Why Did It Work This Time?

Clarity. Clarity of purpose in theory and in practice on my part as a handler. Epic also experienced this clarity firsthand. Intent and belief really do matter. We have done a few sessions of Give vs Drop, which certainly helped, but I think this one might have been a clincher on it’s own simply due to the clarity.

This is the first time I tried to set up a compare and contrast situation between my Bite criteria of removal from the hand (aka: tugging) and the Give criteria of “teeth off while in my hand”.

In previous sessions I contrasted the Bite and Give, but I let them kind of bleed together. I just used the Bite Criteria of removal from the hand and the Give criteria of teeth off while in my hand.

Criteria in Theory vs Experienced Criteria

I was not careful and thoughtful on creating a clear distinction in terms of the load on the disc. A loaded disc is a disc that is being pulled on, by the dog, the handler, or the team. I kind of blew it on the loaded part, but it was that handler and team part that I really blew it on.

In my previous sessions I allowed the disc to be loaded without intent and without care and focused on my criteria, the criteria I wanted, rather than the criteria that was being experienced.

This was a critical error. I didn’t think through what was actually happening and the possible perception of the operations given the experience and the interpretations of possible criteria within that experience.

In short, I was closed minded and short sighted and wound up missing the fact that I was not applying the method properly. This tunnel vision is really common when addressing simple problems.

This tunnel vision is also really hard to write about and talk about. I could probably write a 50 page treatise on this one little session. I think I’ll just stop here…

I’ll be happy to handle questions in comments below.

Related Articles


  1. God stuff here for sure. Will definitely try this with Leyla and Odie. Odie drops very quickly when he pulls the disc away from my hand during tugging, so not sure I can get him to understand the difference since he does not hold onto the disc for me to shape the give.. Leyla however, this might work well for her.