This post is extracted from a comment left by AZDogermanStu on March 29, 2010 “How I Developed the Pushing Technique”
Here is the comment followed by the videos
Here are the videos I was feeling a little pressured by the camera and tried to keep them short. Thanks for taking a look! I tried to incorporate your advice with her normal behavior to show what she is like. They were one long video but I separated them into two smaller ones in the order we did them:
1st Tape: Hope you don’t mind my critique. Some very good pushing and a cool dog. You’re getting close.
So first Point: the dog has too much room; you need a very small amount of latitude available to the dog so that she can focus her energy. Every time she changes location, and then has to readjust relative to you, these present new and additional problems to the dog, all of which are now piled on top of the original problem (it is recasting the original problem in a new frame of reference). Now your approach is too strong and direct which throws her into avoidance and she looks down and then resorts to obedience behaviors to cope with this pressure. Also, you are closing the gap rather than her taking action to close the gap. You want to end up slightly out of range so that the dog has to strain and stretch the rope out to get to you; and this force of exertion “wills” you, draws you into range. And you don’t want to a make an overt move that the dog responds to as if commanded in an obedience context. Rather, be slightly out of range and gather yourself into a “poised” position, your food hand open to some degree so potential energy is in sight, your knees are slightly flexed, your body tight and ready to explode backwards, with the goal being that the dog takes the initiative rather than reacting to you by being signaled into action. It’s her taking action that makes you move, she’s pushing you around by expressing energy to you. So if you shorten the bungee rope to three feet, lower it to slightly above shoulder height so she doesn’t flip over when she really gets going, and then just work in a small zone directly in front of her muzzle so that she can learn steady focus, and when she’s making contact you don’t have to walk into the circle and have her follow you yet with turns. Just concentrate on her taking the initiative and then SUSTAINING her focus. Developing stamina is all that matters at this point. The instances when she “loses interest” is when she’s hit her overload capacity and is getting bogged down, and then the system has to boot up and you can see her waiting for the proper signal as invitation, so this is the heart of her learning process, this little part here with a tiny bit of area to deal with. She first has to learn that by exerting herself with all her might, she sucks you into range and then she fights to sustain the connection between you. This connection is the seed for all subsequent learning.
For now, don’t use barking with the pushing, your goal is to develop stamina and you could only feed her in this training so that if she wants to look for crumbs, she will quickly learn that she is wasting energy by diverting her attention to path of least resistance when path of highest resistance (you) brings her the highest rate of return.
Also, when you do the barking, don’t hold the food apart from you, keep it in tight to your upper chest, pat the hand clasping the food with the other hand, and with a smile encourage her to bark, no commanding. Good job – – Keep on pushing!
In Regards to the 2nd Tape with Bite Toy: You need to use the toy as if it is an appendage of your body, don’t jiggle it about wildly, or whirl it around helter-skelter giving the dog “vapid space” in its brain in those moments when it loses track and then zones out in order to catch it out of peripheral vision. The toy must work as an extension of your physical movements, animated as if part of your body mechanics, not out of context with it, thus the dog learns to average motion out, and arrives at a “null” value of center mass, which is your physical center-of-gravity, i.e. it connects the toy to you, as if it is a part of you. Making this connection is the distinction between prey instinct and prey drive. Also, when you get very forceful and she’s gripping, she’s learning to hold on by making herself a dead weight rather than being light on her feet and being prepared to drive into you. When she gets more active with pushing for food, she’ll get lighter on her feet and more driving into you with the toy in mouth, but it’s very good that she’s learning to jump up with bite toy in mouth. At this point don’t ask her to give it up, when she’s up, gently massage (tug slightly if necessary to maintain her grip) and then gently push her back as YOU BACKPEDAL and then help her drive back into you with toy still in mouth.
You can also see how the presence of the toy makes more energy available to the dog so she’s more active about initiating contact and has better stamina about sustaining contact with you. Also, have you ever corrected her with your knee for jumping up as a puppy?
To get the value of the toy, just fondle it as you face her, then place it down on ground out of reach, now introduce the barking and push for food. Then she pushes you with her bark to reach for the toy gathering it into your center mass and then she powers in for a bite and after a good tug, you invite her to hup, and massage and then gently push off and encourage her to make contact again.