Putting the Drop behavior on cue gives the handler a great deal of power over an object in the dog’s mouth and can be used to teach a Hold, Carry and Retrieve.
Bitework is a great game for dogs that teaches 3 powerful skills: Bite, Drop, & Give. It is highly reinforcing. It can be used as a cookie, as a training tool, as a focus exercise, and to teach patience and safety in Drive.
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the Drop is a lynchpin behavior. get this and get control over your dog’s play with toys.
0:33 – Introduction to Bites & Drops with Gaucho
1:49 – Metal Sculpture by Apryl Lea
3:34 – Show Intro
9:35 – Leveraging the Drop with Loot
11:45 – A Regrab of the disc while your dog is carrying it gives him or her a reason to carry the disc and bring it close to you. Often employed in More & Keep Away for Drop
14:09 – Backer Shoutout!
15:42 – Drop as Lynchpin
18:46 – Drop vs 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 More with Prima
20:58 – Gaucho Catches On
23:22 – Chuckin’ Golf Discs Indoors
24:16 – Disc Orientation & 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
27:15 – Show Close
If you have Drop on cue, you have a good deal of control over any object that your dog has in their mouth. Outside of the obvious safety advantages, installing and leveraging your Drop cue makes for efficient and elegant dog training.
The Rate of Reinforcement for this Bitework game can get very, very high, perhaps 100 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 More (cookies per minute). Be sure to leverage that rate of reinforcement by allowing the game to ebb and flow consequently. Good Behavior keeps the intensity of the game humming, and a breakdown in the intensity of the game happens when the rules are broken or not followed. Use that to your advantage. Let the natural downtime happen to teach the lesson, and manipulate the energy level to reinforce (or punish) behavior.
Get 20 reps of Bite… Drop… Bite so it’s really cranking, create a pattern. Then when you up your ante or test the dog’s performance, you have that pattern to fall back on. If it falls apart, just wait for a moment… when the dog bites the toy, immediately cue the Drop and get rolling again as if it nothing happened. Use that pattern and consequence to prove that the Drop makes the bite happen.
Reward Placement can be used to move the dog around, to create leaps, to pull the dog onto and off of your body. It’s hot stuff, so be careful – the dog is literally flying for a target – but the placement of the target can be leveraged to create dynamic moving behaviors.
Remember that the dog puts their face where the target is, so if you want them over something or on something it needs to be well above the target (18-24″) or they will clobber the threshold with their body.
Back Chaining with Drop
Carrying an object is a duration behavior, that starts with Bite and ends with Drop. Duration is defined by the release, or the finish, which is teeth off the object aka: Drop. If you get stimulus control over the Drop, meaning your dog only Drops on cue, then you have essentially back chained the carry. The dog must be carrying to be able to drop.
In addition to the back chaining of the carry, working Bitework will add a ton of value on the handler because of the Bite as reinforcement for the cued Drop and general action around the handler. This back chained carry quickly becomes a back chained Retrieve due to this value added to the handler.
And you know what’s super sweet? The Bite, the moment you are sharing the disc with your dog? That is the end of the Retrieve. If you have the Drop on Cue you have a Retrieve as well. Like I said, “Sweet, right?”
No Free Bites Allowed – Bites are NEVER Free
The handler must always cue the Bite. The positive marker,“Yes!”, does not mean you can Bite. It means that behavior was correct and your reinforcement is coming.
“Yes!” does not = Bite. I cannot stress that enough… “Yes!” does not = Bite.
We call that a free bite here at Pawsitive Vybe, and it’s not cool. If the positive marker means the dog is free to bite, you are setting yourself up for not only performance problems, but problems with safety and stimulus control over the Biting behavior.
You don’t let your dog dive into your cookie bag or pound and bite the hand the cookie is being delivered with, so why would you allow the dog to thug you with the toy like that?
Access to cookies of all kinds is controlled by the handler. The positive marker, “Yes!”, means I will give you the Bite Cue momentarily.
After the Drop, you cue the Bite, preferably physically and verbally, or otherwise depending on your training goals at the time, but always cue the Bite.
Drop is Not Give
Drop is not Give. While there is a Drop component (teeth off) in the Give behavior (put the target in handler’s hand), the specific location of the Give makes it different. A few years ago, I didn’t really much care to distinguish between the two, thinking they were fine as one cue, but they’re not the same behavior and there are benefits to having them separate, especially in the game of disc.
3 Rules of Bitework
1. I ask you to bite
2. Drop when I ask (must be taught)
3. Never, ever touch me.
*Remember: There is no such thing as a Free Bite.
Avoid Trouble – Refocus to Bite or Drop
Whatever you are working with Bitework: Drop, Give, drive building, position, reactivity; stay on task, avoid unnecessary behaviors, and don’t get distracted.
Nothing is worse than cuing a Sit during a Bitework for Drop session – no real reason for the sit, or anything – and having your high drive Drop session turn into a Sit stay lesson with high distraction.
If you are working to increase your Bite intensity or Tug duration, don’t get all distracted by an early or uncued Drop… or poor position… or a silly Sit…
Instead, note it, and either avoid it in your game, ignore it and fix it later, reduce your criteria and take ownership over the issue. Of course you could always end the game, but what fun is that.
Bitework is super flexible. At any time you can slow down and refocus. Bring the dog in for a Bite and relax while tugging. Get a couple of simple cued Bites and Drops while you get collected. And of course, stopping and waiting for 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 or Dismissing the dog is always a possibility as well. If you get lost, or your dog is off a bit, refocus on these skills… It’s just Bite and Drop.
Discussion in Comments Below
I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions on the Show, Attention/Dismissal or Targeting, or the Threshold concept in the comments below. Don’t be shy, the only silly questions are the ones not asked.