Tricks, obedience, behavior, and more.
Diane Jessup


Postby Diane Jessup » Thu Nov 25, 2004 11:04 pm

Ok, Ok. I finally got home from the big din din and am going to hammer out this how-to thing on the out. Here is Chapter One! lol I'm off for a round of left overs then I'll be back. I see hardly anyone is around anyway - you must all be napping after your meal! roflmao

Teaching The “Release” To Bulldogs

I have trained several dogs to schutzhund titles (with excellent scores in the bitework phase, I might immodestly add) :bowdown: and one to a French ring title, all of which require that the dog stop biting the decoy on one command and either go into a “guard” (barking but not biting) or retreat to the owner’s side as quickly as possible (that would be the French way… ha ha ha!) :cool:

Biting the decoy is, without a doubt, the working dog’s biggest thrill. At least for the kind of dogs which should be doing the work. For them it is the ultimate; you would be hard pressed to find anything on earth which stimulates them more.

So how does one get an adult pit bull to release on one command, quickly and cleanly, and either return or guard? How do you reach through that “battle haze” and gain control? Is it possible to train this without force? ANY force? :huh?:

Absolutely. :thumbsup: I have trained all my bulldogs to release without correcting them in any physical way. One should remember that a bulldog has a hunting/baiting/fighting heritage. The uglier the battle is, the more zoned the dog has to become to survive. Pain must be met with harder struggle. To survive, a fighting dog must ignore pain – to back off when pain is applied is to die in the pit. :sad:

Starting With Pup
Training the release is going to be done with positive reinforcement, along the lines of pavlovian conditioning, and the earlier we can start, the better. Six weeks is not too young.

First, if you have any hesitation about letting your pup learn to play tug-a-war – get over it! :whip: Playing tug-a-war, despite the shrill warnings of many “experts”, does not turn your dog into a vicious killer ready to test you at any time. Especially if it is a bulldog. Tug-a-war is the basis for all bite-work, and I am going to assume that schutzhund or ring is your ultimate goal, though perhaps you only want to teach the dog to release the Frisbee. Doesn’t matter, the principles are the same.

So, first step, let the pup learn to play tug-a-war. Don’t get anal over control at the start. If you start jumping all over the dog about releasing in the beginning, chances are greater than average that you will ruin your pup for any kind of serious bite work later. :stick Relax. Your dog is NOT going to be plotting a coup as you sleep because you let him win a game or two of tug.

Use a sock with tiny pups, or a small rolled up piece of jute (burlap). Encourage the pup to chew and tug on this toy, NOT you. You encourage this behavior by making the toy move AWAY from the dog. Not by pushing it on him/her. Hook it to a string and drag it along the ground. Play keep away, only let the pup get it once in a while. Then put the toy away. This is a SPECIAL toy, that pup should learn to really want. As the pup matures, introduce the sprinpole as outlined in Fully Bully Magazine, issues 2 and 3. :cool: The springpole is an important part of building bite drive. Try to pick one toy in particular that the dog loves to grip – I suggest jute or burlap rolls.

This is a good time to remind you that you have work to do as a handler. Yes, your pup may be CRAZY for the toy, and that is good, let’s hope it stays that way. Maybe pup is a dud. 8( YOU, my friend, need to WORK to develop a strong play/prey drive in your working dog. Three, four, five times a day you work the pup. You build the drive. You try different toys. To be honest, if the pup does not have the stuff to work, and is a dud, then fine, you won’t have to worry about building drive or teaching the out. If the only way you will get jute into the dog’s mouth is if he trips and falls on it when he’s yawning, and you have REALLY tried, then hey – teaching the dog to release is not going to be a problem is it?

Starting With An Adult
I am assuming that this adult dog (over 8 months) has some amount of drive to get something in its mouth (toy, jute, whatever) or the release would not be an issue. And, if this dog is headed for a future in the biting sports, he/she best be showing a REAL interest in jute by now. Or maybe this is a dog who just loves the ball, or Frisbee, and won’t let go. Either way.

Again, we BUILD the drive in the dog. Why? Because WANTING to bite is what is going to make the dog WANT to let go! Confused? That’s OK. We’ll be back to this in just a moment. :huh?:

With our adult dog we build that drive. And build it on to one particular toy. A rolled jute or burlap “sausage” is best. You can make one or buy one at for about $6.00. Get two, you will need both. It is important to note that the more frenetic your dog is about the toy, the harder he is to get to let go, the easier he is going to be to train. It is all about letting the dog learn how to get what it wants – and then giving it to him. :aha:

Why Should A Dog Let Go?
So, from the dog’s point of view, why should he let go of something he already has? Because for a normal dog (that is, one that is not highly stressed) the ACT of biting is more enjoyable then the act of holding. Consider the Frisbee dog. :run: For the dog, the REALLY fun part is chasing and grabbing, not carrying it back to you. Both aspects ARE fun, mind you, but the chasing and grabbing is MORE fun. The dog brings the Frisbee back to you because he wants you to throw it AGAIN.

The same thing is true of a dog lost in the joy of biting the sleeve or suit. Gripping is fun, but the moment of the bite is better. A tough dog will “fight” a sleeve which is being held still. He wants more action. This “tough” dog that won’t release on command has one of two problems… he either is under stress (defense drive) and feels more secure holding on then facing the man again, or he has never been taught that he can get MORE fight by letting go.

Many novices, and many more people who are experienced and should know better, but who are kennel blind, :popcorn: see an unruly, sleeve fighting dog as “tough” and “hard”. In reality, if the dog has been exposed to proper training, and is still reluctant to release, it is time to take a hard look at the dog’s nerves. I once had a Doberman who I thought was the toughest thing on earth. Until I tried to teach him to release and guard. He had previously been taught to let go and return to me, and that suited him fine. But when asked to let go and stand right there, facing the man and controlling him with his barks alone, it proved a very difficult task for this dog. He spun, he nipped the decoy, he rebit, he did a lot of things which showed me he was anything but comfortable there. Biting was comfortable for him – holding the man without biting was not. He lacked nerve. He was not “tough” or “hard” or “real” or “only wanting flesh” or any of the other lame excuses people make for their nervy dogs. Being able to cut through the crap is essential for the serious trainer, and it was something I learned early. :hero:

So why could this Doberman bite, but not guard? The act of biting releases stress – in a BIG way. Barking in front (guarding) builds stress. When teaching the guard in front, the dog is rewarded for correct behavior by getting to bite. A strong dog is rewarded for correct barking (prey barking) by having the decoy (the person to be bitten) move IN a few steps toward the dog. The dog learns to “call” the decoy in by the correct barking (a calm, deep, powerful bark, not a defensive, high pitched bark). Interestingly enough, trainers who use defensive techniques will do the opposite, having the decoy run away from the dog as it barks for a reward. This running away boosts the ego of the defensive dog who is, after all “defending” himself. The prey dog is hunting. The defense dog is defending. There is a HUGE difference in how these two drives work. But that is for another time! :offtopic: lol

What has all this to do with teaching the release? Much. You must grasp the fundamental reason :aha: why a dog would give up a VERY high ranking reinforcer of his own free will. Like you or me, he’ll only do that for two reasons. A) he is offered an even higher reinforcer or b) he gets the crap yanked/shocked/chocked out of him if he doesn’t. :spankme: But remember, with the bulldogs, using force to pull a dog out of a “fight” may result in your having to use an extreme amount of force. You are, in actual fact, causing the dog to “cur out” and leave the fight because of pain. Not for me, said the little red hen! lol

End, Chapter One! lol



Postby pibblegrl » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:16 am

more! more!

Diane Jessup


Postby Diane Jessup » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:55 am

OK. Here is part II! I'm falling asleep though, so more tomorrow.


Teaching The Out: The First Step
So we have a pup or dog who has been born with, or had conditioned into him, a strong desire to chase, grip and hold. Perhaps a Frisbee, perhaps a ball or Kong, perhaps a jute roll. Whatever the object is, you must have two of them. And you must have a consistent word (or whistle if training in ring sport) which will mean “release very quickly” to the dog. We will use “Out”.

Take Pup out to play. Have your two toys. We are going to teach the dog a new game. A fast, exciting game. A game called “Two Toys”. Say you have tennis balls. You pitch the ball, dog goes and gets it, and brings it back. Perhaps the dog stands out of reach, teasing you, perhaps the dog approaches, but gets stressed at the thought of your taking the ball and refuses to let go. The more the dog “chunks” (my term for biting down hard) on the tennis ball, the more stress he is showing. Not necessarily “bad” stress, but it tells you what is going on inside his brain. :nana: He is not comfortable at the thought of handing the ball over; he doesn’t want to loose what he’s got.

Can you blame him? No. You can’t. So, we show the dog that by dropping what he has, you will give him what he wants… Simple, isn’t it? :thumbsup:

You show the dog the other ball. Now, in a perfect world, the dog will spit out his ball and redirect his attention toward your ball. If he does – wonderful! :headbang: Throw the ball in a happy, spirited way, whooping and cheering! Calmly pick up the first ball and prepare to do this over again when he returns. The dog will very quickly pick up on the fact that spitting out the first ball CAUSES THE MORE REWARDING BEHAVIOR of you throwing the ball for him to CHASE AND GRIP. That part is, remember, more fun then standing there holding the ball.

What if pup won’t give up ball one for your ball? :wallbang: This is where patience and intelligent understanding of your dog’s behavior come into play. This is where you “earn your money” as a dog trainer. Analyze why the dog won’t let go of his ball. It’s simple. He is a little stressed about it, and he doesn’t realize :aha: that something BETTER will happen if he does. So, it is your job to help him make this mental step by taking out your ball and making it REALLY attractive. Bounce it. Throw it up in the air, show it to him and then quickly withdraw it from him. BE PATIENT! If at anytime he drops his ball and goes for yours, throw as directed above.

There will be a few dogs who will become MORE stressed by your display of activity with your ball. It will cause them to become more manic :p about hanging on to their ball as they manifest their excitement and frustration by chonking even harder. With these guys we wait them out. We calm ourselves and ignore the dog. Eventually (and I do mean eventually) the dog will release the ball on his own. At that EXACT moment, you pitch your ball with a whoop and a holler, and all the excitement you can muster. Pooch runs after ball, you pick his (disgustingly wet) ball and await his return. Yup, you guessed it, repeat.

No one every said proper animal training was quick. It’s not. You are going to spend a couple weeks at least on the two toy game. Each and every time you play with your dog (and you should be doing this 3 to 5 times a day at least) the rules are, bring the toy back fast and spit it out and WOW! you get an animated, excited throw in return. No dog who likes to play will refuse that offer.

The Next Step
The dog is now returning with the toy and promptly spitting it out in anticipation of your next throw. At this point AND NOT BEFORE we add our command. Why? Because it is just plain good training to never add a command word to the action until the dog knows how to perform the action correctly. Why? :huh?: Because if you are saying the command word while trying to get the dog to figure out what to do, the dog is hearing the word in association with a lot of junk that IS NOT the right action. So why do it? Why gum up the works. The dog learned how to play two toys with you without you yelling “Out” at him…

So now, you watch the dog carefully, and AS THE DOG is releasing the toy you say “Out!” in a crisp, clear voice. No reason to be Teutonic about it, lol just say it nicely.

Remember that during all this time, your throw of the ball has to have an intensity :nana: about it. If you are using a jute toy, and you want to let the dog grip instead of chase and bring back, fine, the same principle applies. Present the jute roll in a CRISP, EXCITING manner. Don’t just hand it out there like a moldy carrot. POP it out, yell when you do it! Make it fun! Make it exciting! If you don’t you will fail when you require the dog to leave a major stimulus. By making it exciting you are building into the dog the Pavlovian effect of excitement. He hears the word “Out” and he instantly wants to let go of his toy because things are about to get SO MUCH MORE EXCITING.

Adding Some Chrome
At this point, even with a totally untrained dog, you can start to add some fancy footwork. For instance, say you want to teach the dog to release and return to heel when you say “Out”. OK. Here goes.
Dog returns with toy.
You say “Out”.
Dog releases toy.
You show the dog your toy and using the toy, move the dog into a rough approximation of the position you want him to be in. Mark that behavior with a “Yes!” (excuse me, but again I must remind you that “marking” behavior is covered in Fully Bully Magazine) and give the dog the toy.
In small steps approximate him into the position that you want. Once he understands to sit at your side, you can begin to work on staying until released by command.

For Sport Dogs
For those intending to use their dogs for sport, now is when you introduce the “out” of the toy into your hand, if you have not done so previously. Why? Because we want to increase the speed, and we want to show the dog the actual steps needed in sport.

To Be Continued… I’m Falling Asleep! :coffee:

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Leslie H
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Postby Leslie H » Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:47 am

Good information Diane. I was told something very similar by Kathleen Snope, who's put Sch III's on a couple of ab's. She felt that by using compulsion on a young ab (ages 1-3) to teach/enforce the out, you could push him into fight drive (the land where the bully feels no pain), and stood a good chance of creating such a problem that you ruined your dog.


Postby duckzilla » Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:54 am

You rock D! Keep it coming! It really is as simple as she talks about.


Postby Ursus » Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:47 am

Excellent information. It all makes such good sense the way you present it. :peace:


Postby blover27 » Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:52 am

:goodpost: D :bowdown:

Diane Jessup


Postby Diane Jessup » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:23 pm

Wow! You guys are SO nice. Goodness, what motivation to put finger to keyboard. OK, gotta go to the dump, the feedstore and get more mayo for the cold turkey sandwich. Then be back! Thanks for kind words. :bowdown:


Postby shella677 » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:28 pm


Demo Dick

Postby Demo Dick » Fri Nov 26, 2004 3:45 pm

Just a couple of things to add. First, any form of burlap for puppies is a bad idea. It's horrible for developing teeth and gums. A rolled up leather chamois is a better choice.

Second, the "two toys" method definitely works for a housepet and many bitesports, but will hurt you in some arenas. PSA decoys can and will bait dogs off the bite with a tennis ball, which will fail the dog.

I don't use force to teach the out either, but I never taught my dog that when he sees the second toy it's time to let go of the first one. I want him in the bite until I give the verbal command to come off of it. The method I use works very well with no force, and my dog will never be confused when the decoy whips out a second toy.

Demo Dick

Diane Jessup


Postby Diane Jessup » Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:42 pm

Hey, no fair Demo! I'm only part way through Chapter 2! Still a LONG ways to go! The dog has not been trained to respond ONLY to command yet, something a ring dog must do as well, as the decoy can stop, which would cause a schutzhund dog to release automatically! All sports/jobs, etc, have little different catches, and the smart trainer takes that into consideration and modifies the training. It is VERY simple to teach a dog that seeing the toy does not GET him the toy WITHOUT the command as the bridge. I actually had that problem with Dirk, who would let go to look back and see if I had the toy out yet. Very easily cleaned up.

As to burlap and puppies? :huh?: Well, after 30 years of raising pups hanging off burlap and jute and no problems, I just gotta say that has not been my experience. People will have to decide for themselves.

OK, it is actually not raining so I am out blowing leaves like there was no tomorrow!

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Postby SKoth » Fri Nov 26, 2004 7:59 pm

Great post Diane. I used a very similar method for the out on all of my dogs. I have never used any force to teach the out. Crazy thing is I don't have any problems with the out! I cross train my Mali in PP. I have sent her before and the had the decoy throw the sleeve and my dog will still engage then onto the hidden sleeve. If that's not proof enough that the dog will still engage then I don't know what is.

Diane Jessup


Postby Diane Jessup » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:08 pm

Good dog!
Yeah, every, and I mean every sport, job, etc, has little tricks. That is why I am not impressed with "street" "sports" because, like schutzhund or ring they, too, have gimicks that you gotta train the dog to. Mondio Ring is about the closest thing i've seen to something it is pretty dang hard to train for in some ways.

In schutzhund, as you know, the dog is allowed to Out on its own when the bad-guy holds still. This is because it was thought a suspect should stop moving before a dog released, and then a dog SHOULD release, even if the handler was occupied and could not call him out. That makes sense.

In ring, the dog would fail if it did that. The decoy will stop all action, to see if the dog will come off. I guess that makes sense to someone somewhere. I happen to think the schutzhund thing is A LOT easier to explain than "why does your dog continue to maul the guy after he gives up?" Well, because some folks think the dog should continue to fight until the officer arrives and gains control of the bad guy. That makes sense.

This is one reason it is tough for some dogs to cross train.

So, if in one sport they offer the dogs tennis balls or toys, or drop sleeves, you can train them to ignore that. There really isn't one sport/competition that is "more realistic" than another.


Postby mnp13 » Fri Nov 26, 2004 11:26 pm

Diane, have you ever read the description of the Red Star Kennel (Presa's) title trials? It has all sorts of sneaky senarios, including one where they tell you you're all done and then send another 'bad guy' in after you to catch you by surprise.

It's not French Ring or SchH, but it looks really challenging.

Last year the compitition was won by a little rescue pit bull and her owner Kim. If I remember correclty the top 3 places were all women...



Postby jayL » Sat Nov 27, 2004 12:58 am

Can't wait to try new things. Im beginning to think Im getting too frustrated to which concepts to use. At least I have a new one to try.

Thanks Diane!

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