Toys – Developing Cooperation and Play

Date:Jun 1st, 2024
Registration Opens:May 22nd

Do you have a dog that chases the ball, yet won’t bring it back? Plays keep away with toys? Tugs but won’t let go? Bites you instead of the tug? Obsesses over toys, yet won’t listen to a single thing you say? Is your dog so high in drive for toys that he can’t think? Or do you just want to channel that prey drive right from the beginning and add the attitude your dog has for tugging or chasing toys to the obedience ring?

If so, this class is for you! Join me as we explore how to play games that channel that prey drive. Playing with toys with OUR rules creates a dog that plays with us instead of against us! We are specifically intending the toy play to be used as a reinforcement for sport behaviors, which makes this class a wonderful foundation for most sports.

This class is most appropriate for dogs that are attracted to toys but need fine tuning in how to play with them. We include ways to build drive for toys but generally, dogs with little or no interest in chasing and biting toys will have limited success in this class. The tug part of this class can be quite physical on the handler, so wear gloves and expect to gain some bicep muscles!

You need room to play, and a non slippery surface that is safe for both you and your dog to run and turn quickly on. Teaching chase is often an integral part of teaching a dog to bring toys back, and I often recommend starting with that game even if you only want tugging. Chasing toys that don’t go very far, get caught up in furniture, bang into walls, etc.. often is not reinforcing for our dogs and gets in the way of them discovering the joy of snatching a toy out of mid air on the bounce after a long run after. Ideally you will also be able to teach in an area that also doesn’t have competing motivators, like agility equipment, other animals, cars or dog beds, mats.

Please be realistic about progress during class! Even though it is 6 weeks long, in reality, many students take this class over and over, as it takes most dogs/handlers a year or two to attain good toy skills.

Here a video showing a little of what we work on:

 Teaching Approach

This class can be overwhelming! I release the basic steps of the chase and the fetch game all in the beginning of the class, and then as the question comes up in a gold or silver thread, I release the discussion lectures one at a time. Subjects are presented in steps, and are meant to go in order. For instance, the chase game has X amount of steps and each step is a separate lecture. Written bullet points, along with short videos showing each bullet point is the main format. Feedback wise, I give short concise written instructions, aiming at changing one or two things in the session. I absolutely love giving instruction once a day instead of twice a week (shorter videos versus long videos) and the class subjects support that.

This class will have a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) available in the Facebook study group to help the bronze and silver students! Directions for joining will be in the classroom after you register.

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