Part Three is where we teach the dog that to earn his C&T he needs to pick up the dummy and hold it in his mouth for a while.
We do this by increasing the time he will hold the dummy for very gradually.
The objective of this stage is to end up with a dog that will pick the dummy up off the ground and hold it in his mouth for ten seconds
Moving the goalposts
At the end of part two, you had a dog that would lift a dummy clear off the ground. He would then spit it straight out again in anticipation of his reward.
The next time he does this, you are going to stand and wait. No C&T, nothing. Just wait.
The dog will then pick the dummy up again. Now you can C&T. You are going to continue intermittently rewarding the dog for his pick-ups and watching him very carefully.
You will notice that sometimes he holds on to the dummy longer than other times. These longer holds may only be a couple of seconds, but these are the ones you are going to C&T in future.
Any pick-up where he spits out the dummy immediately must be ignored. You can count in your head as he picks up “one thousand two thousand click” Once you have a repeated two second hold you can begin to build on it.
Here are your steps
- Place the dummy on the floor
- C&T intermittently. You are looking for a two second hold
- Once the dog will hold for two seconds every time, start looking for a three second hold
- Next only C&T a four second hold
- Next only C&T a six second hold
And so on. Take it slowly, set the dog up to win.
How can I encourage my dog to hold longer?
Mostly this is just a question of patience. The dog is learning that in order to get a C&T he needs to figure out what behaviour you are looking for.
He will try different approaches and sooner or later one of those will be longer holds. Some dogs will hold longer if you take a couple of steps back, they will follow you and keep the dummy in their mouths.
Others will let go if you move and are more likely to hold if you stand very still. You may need to experiment.
Remember, if you fail to reward a behaviour for long enough it will become extinct. While you are ‘raising the bar’ don’t let the dog go too long without a reward, you don’t want to extinguish your ‘pick-up’.
Once you have a reliable, repeatable, ten second hold we can move on to the next stage, delivering the dummy into your hand.