Reply To: Week 5 Assignment


Mollie & Tim Posts #5303. #5458

Hi Tim

Mollie is a keen little dog and as is typical of the breed (I have 3 spanielsr!) she is very keen on her ball as it provides the opportunity to chase something and retrieve it and run at full speed which is all very rewarding for them. I would suggest at the teaching a form of a swap exercise using two balls. Firstly teach her “swap” using a toy or item that is not as valuable to her and swapping with her for a treat. Don’t ask too much of Mollie to begin with if she drops it on the floor that’s fine swap for a treat. You can build up to her dropping it into your hand as she becomes more trusting that she is getting something back in return.
You can then build this up as she gets the idea, to more exciting toys and swapping for tastier treats. The end game is that you swap a tennis ball for a tennis ball! It will become second nature for her to drop the ball for you to throw the other and if you teach the swap is into your hand you will have more control over the toys.

To rank value of toys and treats I separate them into food then toys. So I put down a row of different treats including kibble, chopped ham/chicken, hot dogs and dried liver (this is the winner with all my dogs!). I then let the dog go and choose their treat. They will generally go for their favourite first. You can then do it another couple of times to see what they select next. You then know which has the highest and lowest value to Mollie.

You then have the toys and treats to use in the swap exercise as noted above.

I do this with a range of toys too. Same process but gives me a good idea of what the dog prefers.

I also teach an “all done” cue so that when we are finished all exercises, had our big game, my dog then knows we are all done and there are no more exercises or games. My cue is all done and both palms facing upwards. At that point I have the ball in my hand I put it in my pocket and give my dog a chew to go and lie down with. That signals the end of the session so it might be worth considering this with Mollie. I think it’s important to finish any exercise on a high but at the same time my dog needs an “off” switch so they know when it is time to relax.

My timimg with the clicker wasn’t that strong either when I started so I got my husband to throw a tenns ball and I practiced clicking when the ball hit the floor. It certainly tightened up my timing and became quite competitive too! My husband would start off quite slow but once my clicking was more precise he started to throw faster and faster.

Once you have a nice swap cue you can then start using the ball again your truffle hunting training. Mollie then knows if she swaps the ball she will get one back. I would tend to alternate between food and toy so she becomes less focused on the ball. The food needs to be one she finds very valuable from the exercise you did above though so she maintains the same motivation.

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Gwen.