Foundation on the Fly – Shaping the Give with a Single Toy

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Hops and I were working on creating a Wait with a Bite and it became clear that the tugs I was using were damaged and were causing a problem. I switched to this single tug and ran into an issue. Hops does not have a strong Give behavior.

He’s a Jack, Give is not the most fun work in the world. I’ve isolated and done a tiny bit of work on the skill with Hops, but when confronted with a training situation where we had to rely on the Give (single toy), we needed to do some Foundation on the Fly.

Cuing the Give

Initially, I started out Cuing the Give, in hopes that Hops would be able to perform the skill. Well, that didn’t work so well…

Actually, it will work, cuing Give, providing a Dead Fish for the dog to tug on, and reinforcing well will definitely teach a dog to give. But it won’t do it in 5 minutes.

Shaping the Give

Shaping the Give with a single toy has 3 steps:

  1. Capture the Give and Mark with Positive Marker
  2. Capture the Give and Mark with Give Cue
  3. Cue the Give and Mark with Yes

Step 1 – Capture the Give and Mark with Positive Marker

When the dog is tugging, we’re going to provide a real lame tugging partner. We call this a Dead Fish Tug. It’s lame. A couple of times during this video you can see the tension on the toy decrease – you can see how lame the tug is.

This decrease in the tension makes if far more likely that the dog will initially Give the toy. The Positive Marker isolates the behavior and the Bite reinforcement makes it more likely to happen again.

At this stage, it is very important that we give the reinforcement every time the dog gives. We are reinforcing the Give behavior, nothing more.

Step 2 – Capture the Give and Mark with Give Cue

The next step is to Capture the Give and mark with the Give Cue. It sounds a little wacky, but it’s really great for attaching value directly to the Give Cue.

Step 3 – Cuing the Give and Marking with Positive Marker

The final step is to get tugging, reduce the intensity with that Dead Fish Tug, then say the Give Cue and stick to the Dead Fish tug. Mark with a Positive Marker and reinforce with a Bite.

Remember Rule #1 when playing this game!