Teaching a Hoop With Bitework

This is a typical Bitework Application session. There is a plan, in this  case, we’re going to develop a Hoop, skill where the dog leaps through a hoop made from the handler’s arms. Working this skill with Bitework yields a loose a sloppy understanding and performance of the skill. It works, it’s fast, but if we want to teach this skill well, cookies would be a better method. Teaching this skill with Bitework will yield a ‘quick and dirty’ trick.

Executing the Plan

The first thing we want to do is to get the dog warmed up and prepared for working this skill. We warm up the dog both mentally and physically. Moving the dog around, getting the blood flowing is combined with a bit of Atttention, using the Bite as Cookie is how we get warmed up. The first  minute is a simple warm up.

Once we have the dog warmed up we are going to set the base level understanding of the skill. Once we deliver that baseline understanding, then we want to try to slip that understanding into a trick or sequence that the dog already knows and understands.

Teaching the Hoop

With the Hoop skill, a major part of it is the dog understanding that they need to get over an arm. Leaping over an arm is not something that most dogs are familiar with, and if the dog leaps over the bottom arm, the rest of the Hoop becomes the responsibility of the handler – make a hoop with your arms. It simply happens.

This is a hallmark of Bitework – the skills we are working on happen as a product of the biting and/or dropping behavior. All we have to do is create drive for the target and place the target in the appropriate place and the skill should happen. Understanding this means that a quality plan is a necessity.

It doesn’t have to be a complex plan. This plan is very simple: get over the bottom arm and bite the target. Once that is happening, a slight adjustment by the handler like making a hoop with the arms, the skill happens.