This is not going to be a chore for your dog.
Chaser skills are the same as those for any hunter. 8 week old puppies do not have these skills, they need to be acquired and polished.
Skills development will be needed to teach:
- Recognising your body language to bowl, the direction you are facing – you will be reliable and always throw the way you are facing. No tossing treats in any old direction to deceive the dog.
- We should give the dog enough time to move in preparation to be in the perfect chasing position.
- Perceptive skills will develop to monitor the movement of the treat. So large, easily visible treats at ground level. Slow for puppies. Throw forehand, not backhand, a backhand action is harder for the dog to anticipate.
- Perceptive skills will also be needed to nail the treat on the run. This is quite a skill of co-ordination from eye to mouth. If you see the dog regularly overshoot the treat and turn back to collect it, then this skills need some practise.
- Motor skills will be needed to be able to commit to the full run during chase and then change the momentum for the grab. Dogs that can kill on the run don’t usually go hungry.
Monitor the effect
If this is pleasurable and the dog keenly anticipates a repetition they will return to you promptly and faster each time. But if the direction of the chase is always towards the dog, this return will be stifled – why bother come back if you need to chase all the way out again? The dog will learn to put themselves in the best position to be successful, which is oftne “staying out, staying away”.
This is why we need to plan the direction of each repetition.
If you see the dog beginning to slow down on return then this is a clear sign that the dog needs a break.
Make it safe
Where you are training we have to be the Risk Assessors. When a dog is running in this predatory chase they are often completely with the skills of risk assessment and can crash into furniture, people and trees.
The chasing behaviour is also extremely attractive to other dogs, to either join in the chase, or chase the chaser.
Plan your chasing zone with awareness of potential risks.
Chaser is perfect for building arousal through anticipation – this is a creature that will stand at a rabbit hole for hours waiting for a chance. Anticipation is as rewarding as the action, but does not require as much energy, but it will engender the same degree of focus.
If you need to build focus into a behaviour random Chasers can assist, not every time, but often enough to keep the dog is an aroused, focussed state of anticipation.
Chaser is excellent for teaching the motor and perceptive skills in youngsters.
Chaser can be user for distance behaviours that appeal to the dog’s logic to “stay out here” to receive the rewards. If the dog is further than 4 meters away they will be able to “be in goal” and secure the treat without a chase. It is perfect for building rewards at a distance which all dogs should experience.
Chaser can be used for any jumping or activities where the dog must continue forwards with energy.
Always have a plan
Do your risk assessment
Clear cues before bowling
Let the dog prepare
Learn to be reliable
Monitor the return
Knowledge & Understanding
Application & Activities
Getting tired will reduce the quality of the learning, and the ability to remember what you are doing.
The same applies to the dog. Mental fatigue will be evident when there is an increase in errors, which is why we should never try to suppress mistakes. They are a good indicator of fatigue or confusion.
Sometimes the session needs to end, or a short rest of 2-3 minutes or a change in activity.
When using a computer, the recommendation to keep the quality and quantity of work at the optimum, is a change in visual activity every 20 minutes and a complete walk away every hour.
It would be really useful to add your own training tips, the one key point that you found useful, things you would never go without …. so please use the comment box.
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