5 min 45 sec
Targeting is a term we use to describe the visual presentation of the toy that is made available for the dog to bite and play with. When we are making the presentation, regardless of whether we are moving or not, we always want the target to be held in the same place from the moment we present it until the dog has gripped the toy. We do this for two reasons: First of all, safety. We do not want to accidentally get bit by the dog when the dog has been released to take the toy. (We do cover accidental bites and how to deal with them in the second module of this course. Feel free to browse the second segment dealing with this topic if you feel like you may have an prior issue with the dog you are working with.)
The second reason is that we are trying to build a stronger, more committed dog in terms of play, so we want them to have a successful apprehension. In the case of presenting a miss-bite, you would still present the target in a consistent location, relative to your body. By presenting consistent targets, the dog will become more committed in its apprehension of the toy, thus becoming more committed to play itself. In many cases, the dog can also develop a robust character overall from this type of play interaction, simply by having repeated success in its apprehension of the toy.
If we are working with a tug toy, a rope, or something relatively similar in dimension, our presentations will generally be off to one side or the other, at just about the height of the dog's head. When we present a target as a reward, we want to be consistent in terms of choosing a side of our body for the grip, and maintain that position until the dog has gripped the toy.
If we are working with a ball on a string, the targeting process is a bit more complicated and must be taught from the ground up, so to speak. I find very few dogs instinctively know how to grab something suspended in the air, especially while launching into the air for it. Another consideration is that because the string suspending the ball is running vertically up from the ball, the dog has to tilt its head one way or another to successfully grab the ball. To deal with this, I choose to first teach the dog to grab the ball on the ground and methodically work my way up from there. This process can move quickly if you take it step-by-step, raising it an inch at a time until you've reached the desired height.
Another method you can try with the ball on the string is to position it just in front of the dog's muzzle for apprehension. Bless the dog who is able to grab the ball upon the first presentation of this method, for they are gifted. As mentioned before, I find it difficult for most dogs to grab something suspended in the air, but this method is much safer because the ball is positioned inches in front of the muzzle, so you don't run nearly the same risk of a mistake.
5 min 13 sec
2 min 43 sec
Now that you've reached the end of the subject matter for this first module in the study of play, you can see the heavy emphasis placed on the building process. Often times when I am working with a client, be it a competitor or hobbyist, I find that their dogs play in a way that is nowhere near their maximum potential. This is exactly why I choose to spend so much time building, taking care of every nuance of the interaction between the dog and me. Such nuances can be actions, reactions, silence, sounds, static play, busy play, external stimulus, or something else. Every aspect is examined while paying close attention to detail. This means studying how the dog responds with regard to our behavior, attitude, movements, strength, power, intensity, calmness, and many others.
Once we feel like we have built as much of the dog as we are able to, we can start to cap and channel. This means we can control or direct an application or behavior we would like to create from scratch, or mold from a preexisting behavior already being expressed by the dog in some way.