Thursday, March 24, 2011
Some thoughts on tugging....from a TUG-tard
First off let me say I was hesitant to even post this because I do not want to sound like an expert or like what works for us would work for everyone else. I was always a tug-tard and felt like I squashed all my dogs play instincts-not that I wanted to, I just did not understand how to inspire play with my dogs, even though I really wanted to. Ricky's mom asked a few days ago how we found our tug, esp. with Chloe and Breeze who would not tug. Liz was a good tugger but at some point in her life decided she would choose not to tug most of the time, I figured that was me working my non-play magic, ahhhhh... hers was mostly gone. It took me awhile to answer but I had to think....So ya can all groan...hahahahahaha, but I am going to do a few posts on some of what we found worked for us. OF COURSE I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE AN EXPERT, I was just a frustrated trainer who tried a few pretty simple things that for us made a lot of difference-but I definitely have no masters in dog play but I can say I am pretty happy with what we have now. My dogs are FANTASTIC TUGGERS now and I really treasure what we have- because the dogs have more excitement when we train, even if it is training with food.
When I had non-tuggers, I found the whole thing intimidating. You know it seems that everyone tells you you have to get your performance dog to tug and tells you how much you are missing out of if your dog is not a tugger. It seems like a lot of training videos or seminar presenters assume we all have a great tug. If your dog didn't tug they do not always tell you how you can create some of that excitement with food or tell you how to get it, so often then just tell you how much you NEED it. Hummm...I always resented that talk to tell you the truth. My dogs did not tug and I tried a lot of things to shape it, different things to tempt them, lots of different toys and toys with different textures and toys that were supposed to bring out the tugging instinct, I worried about it and tried to get my dogs to tug.. but it just was not happening. To tell you the truth it ticked me off to keep hearing we should have this great tug but no one would give me any clues about how to get this. I wish I had a good answer and could market a formula because I know a lot of people feel like I felt. Unfortunately I can only share what I think made it easier for my dogs and for me to be in a place where play flourished a little more and tug sort of came out of that.
The interesting thing is that we were not actually working on a tug and not really trying to get a tug per say when we finally were able to find out inner TUGGERS and bring them to life. So I am not the expert on tugging but I do think it is worth perhaps sharing a little of some of what I think made a difference, because even if we had not got tugging, it made a huge difference in the excitement level of our training. So anyone can take it for what it is worth...I will probably make a few posts...but these are just some things that worked for us.
I know what I would have said earlier B.T. (before tugging ;) ), like why do I care or why bother-we do OK without it? Hey, I do not think tugging is a necessary thing, although it is a really nice thing to have because a lot of times I do not have to use food, or find as many treats....I enjoy feeling like we are playing and not like I am just dolling out treats-it is more fun for me, but I do notice even if I am training with food now there is a new level of excitement that really makes things more fun for all of us.
I will go out and try to get some video today of one of the things I think really helped us one of which is TREAT DELIVERY, or how I learned to reward behaviors with food that helped us add a little more playful behavior and excitement. So how is that for a teaser? ;-)
My AMAZING dogs at the park!
WHOWZA!!!! Have I said lately how much my dogs just blow me away! For the last few days during our recall practices at the park, Lizzie has been so spot on and done her recalls so well-- straight out of the car. This is the dog that had no recall for so long, I think repeating the recallers course is going to be so good for her. Breeze of course is fantastic and loved chasing the Orbee, and looked so fast until I saw Cricket taking her turn. Cricket just hunkers down and runs- I can not believe how fast she runs. It is AMAZING-she just looks like she is flying. Of course Crickets recalls have always been amazing and to see her running full speed at me when I call, boy it makes every minute we put into practicing recalls seem so worth it. I can not tell you how fantastic it felt to be out at the park,enjoying the fresh air and just watching how happy the doggies were.