Fixing Bad Play Habits
JJ the Doberman has joined us for board and train. We have a lot of goals for him including work toward IGP working degrees. JJ comes to us with some good work and some bad habits already installed. One issue with JJ is the way he has learned to play. JJ is a powerful dog and he can absolutely dominate the way he plays tug at home. Unfortunately these habits make using tug as an obedience reward unproductive and the habits bleed over into his bite work.
One of these habits is he constantly tries to twist behind the person playing with him. This habit bleeds into bite work and looks like weakness. JJ will also let go of the equipment if he does not get his way by getting behind you. Bad news on the IGP trial field. JJ also attacks the handles of tugs as well as bites at the hands (somewhat gently) when frustrated in tug.
JJ also exhibits some signs of pressure and apprehension in the bite. as if he feels he is doing something wrong. This could be an artifact of ecollar use during play or could be a similar artifact of social pressure used during play. In either case the answer is to replace that pressure or correction with non-reinforcement where he exhibits unwanted behavior.
In this three video series we will go through the steps to fix these issues and make JJ's play useful as a reinforcement for obedience. The steps for JJ may be slightly different for your dog based on the issues your dog displays in play. As always it is better to start a young dog with good play habits and not end up where JJ starts in this video. This three part series was filmed over the first 10 days of JJ's stay with us. During this time we were also working on various obedience skills with food rewards. Be sure to Subscribe to catch part 2 and 3 of this series.