Reteaching Luna to "tug" rather than "snatch"

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by LoopyLuna, May 13, 2019.

  1. LoopyLuna

    LoopyLuna Registered Users

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    We've played tug with Luna since she was about 6 months and in the early stages we taught a "drop" cue and a "take it" cue. We also removed the toy after playing so she didn't get too possessive over it. It was a toy just for playing tug with her humans.

    However.....bad trainer alert......we got complacent and haven't been consistent with keeping up with these rules, so unsurprisingly her manners have started to disappear. She's not possessive (if she wrestles control of it then she always brings it straight back to play) but instead of tugging it, she prefers to grab it, shake it, and then come towards us (rather than pulling away), grabbing more and more of the toy with her teeth and jumping and pawing it with her front paws until she inevitably accidentally scratches or bites our hand which (a) REALLY hurts and (b) signals the end of the game which is a shame for Luna as it's nice for her to have that interaction. I've bought an extra long tug rope to keep our hands at a distance, but she just grabs for the middle instead and then works her way up so it's not really solved the problem.

    So, how on earth do you teach a dog to pull backwards and tug rather than move forward and snatch. I've started marking and praising when she tugs, and marking & rewarding when she "drops" when I ask. Is there anything else I should consider? I don't really want anyone else playing tug with her at the moment in case they get the rough end of her teeth.
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi @LoopyLuna

    I think you are on the right track.

    Mark every time you are able to get her opposition reflex in action which will mean she attempts to pull the tug from you as you pull in the opposite direction. Let her win some of the time.

    When she attempts to re-mouth make sure you move it so that she loses grip, thereby encouraging her to hold fast rather than mouth her way up to your hands.

    Alternatively, as she gets close to your hand just drop it. You might want to say, "Not that way" in a soft voice, the opposite to the excited yes when she is tugging properly.

    I am wary of rope tugs because the dog's teeth can get stuck between the strands. For that reason I favour the tug toys police officers use. Indeed, a change in material and design may, and I emphasise possibility rather than certainty, present you with an easier route to re-teaching tug since you would be changing a central element of her new and unwarranted mode of play. You would have the dog's inability to generalise possibily working in your favour.

    Let us know whether you see any improvement.
     
  3. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    I don't think I'm quite understanding what you're describing there, loopy-luna...

    If you pull the tug away from her when it's in her mouth, does she not pull back against that?

    What you're describing is a kind of 're-bite' - which is done by the dog to get a better grip or hold on the tug. Bite sports like Schutzhund or IPO might have more help for you on this one, or trainers who do those sports. I just had a look through the Fenzi courses I know, and this is the course you want, with Shade Whitesel (who does IPO and schutzhund) on play: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/1708 It's not on until September, though...

    I agree with Michael that if you don't like the 'regripping' thing, then just whip the tug away when she releases it - so she loses it if she releases to re-bite - then let her chase and 'get it' again.
     
  4. LoopyLuna

    LoopyLuna Registered Users

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    Yes, that was exactly what was happening. When I pulled it away from her, she followed and did the re-bite that you explained all the way up the tug toy until she ran out of toy and accidentally reached "arm". There was very little tugging going on.

    Definitely not quick enough to do this - she doesn't really let go at any point - just tries to get more and more material in her mouth.

    Having said all of that, this is actually working well. Every time she tugs I praise her and every time she comes toward me and bites more of the toy, I drop it and say "not like that". She's definitely getting the hang of it. Thanks for the advice. It was only a little thing, but it was really spoiling the game when we kept getting hurt.
     
    Michael A Brooks likes this.

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