Calm and hold
In Schutzhund we have several situations where we want the dog to calmly
hold an item in its mouth. This includes both the dumbell and the sleeve.
While playing with a puppy with a toy begin
to stroke it's chin and under it's muzzle.
Keep the toy moving at first so the dog does
not let go. Begin to hold your hand gently
under the muzzle still moving the toy so the
dog does not let go, move the toy less and
less until you can get the dog to stay still
and calm with the toy in it's mouth. Do this
regularly while playing, hold the dog still
for a moment, and then go back to playing.
Gradually build the length of time the dog
can stay still and calm. The dog will learn
that it is ok for the handler to touch it's
muzzle and will also begin to calm as soon
as you put your hand there. Then when you
don't need to hold the toy anymore, you can
use your other hand to stroke the dog, further
calming and reinforcing the behavior.
This is excellent for protection training
where you want the dog to calmly hold the
sleeve.This is now a relaxing and pleasurable
position for the dog so it can also help to
reduce stress and allow the dog to take a
breather during protection.
When training the retrieve, you can use the
hand under the muzzle to achieve a nice calm
hold on the dumbell. Then gradually use the
hand less as the dog learns the hold. My current
youngster has learned this procedure to the
point where if I put my hand out palm
up, he will run over to me and put his muzzle
there. Many dogs flinch away from contact
with their muzzle and/or a hand coming too
close to their toy/bone/other prized item.
This exercise can also help to reduce conflict
in this area.