We've been spending some time at the club in "drive building," which is dog slang for building desire and motivation. (Personally, I dislike the term "drive," as its only scientific definition was in a psychology theory discarded decades ago and its many non-scientific definitions make for imprecise discussions at times. But hey, for now, it means "motivation.")
The method we've been using is play on a backtie, with lots of teasing on the handler's part and frustration on the dog's part. This sounds kind of cruel, but it's not, really -- the dogs definitely enjoy it. Restraint on a backtie allows the handler to give up thinking about safety and control and just focus on wild play. It allows the dog to give up thinking about manners and safety and just focus on crazed desire. We can do things safely on a backtie that would be dangerous to dog or human loose together; I'm not built to take that much weight launched at high speed, but the harness can do it safely! And Laev loves the opportunity to REALLY cut loose.
A friend got a new camera this week, and she snapped some photos of Laev working -- playing -- with me. As a bonus, you get to check out my stylish dog-training togs, T-shirt and jeans. In this case, though, it is a B.F. Skinner T-shirt!
"Do ya want it? Do ya really want it?" Actually, I don't say anything nearly so coherent when teasing Laev. But whatever I am saying, she seems to think it worthwhile. Look at the intensity here.
If you ever wondered what Laev would look like with cropped ears.... I'm not losing the tail, though. It's just too much fun -- even if it is a bit dangerous and painful at times.
Yes, look, I'm teaching my dog to resource guard! Don't worry, it's entirely on cue and we don't have problems elsewhere.
It's not all teasing; she does get the toy. Sometimes she gets it even when I intended to only taunt, when her extendible Dober-neck snakes out to snatch it from the complacent handler.
So what's the point of all this? Laev thinks playing with me is even MORE fun, and so we get better results everywhere else. When I set up for a heel, I whisper quietly to her, "Are ya ready?" and she recalls all the energy and fun from these sessions. Sometimes that energy comes out vocally and she'll bark once or twice, but I don't mind; I can always contain energy, which is much easier than creating it! More often, though, her heeling sparkles and looks more, well, fun. As it should. If both ends of the leash aren't having fun, what the heck are we doing here?
However, Laev still loves to play her "real" games, which involve someone bigger, stronger, and meaner than me.
Here she catches a helper on an "escape bite," which means she is left to hold herself in a down until he makes a break for it. Oddly enough, Laev is faster. ;-)
She is committed under threat....
...and check out that nice out! Seriously, I am very proud of her fast outs. I've never used compulsion to get her to out off a helper.
Well, that's Laev's latest update. If we can get her tracking in order, though, I'd feel better....