I have started bite work with my 18-month old German Shepherd. We are having
difficulty getting him to out. At a recent seminar, the trainer recommended that I pull him up by the collar to
force him to out, but it only seemed to be make the problem worse. Is there an alternative
way to induce a quick and clean out?
Over the past twenty years I have seen at seminars that much time is spent trying to
force an out during manwork. This is addressing the problem late in the game and after
it has become a problem. It is also a poor time to TEACH. The dog is already in a high
stress mode. I have found it best to teach the out completely separate from any
bitework or any situations that he associates with bite work. Then -- after
he is responding comfortably -- incorporate the "out" into the bitework.
I keep the out from being a problem by teaching it to my up and coming puppies during
a game I use to develop (1) prey drive and (2) the alert command. The game
begins with enticing the pup into play with a rag and engaging in a little tug-o-war.
As soon as this is fun and familiar and I can see that he is stimulated at first sight
of the rag, I stand still with the rag held just outside his reach and introduce the
command "Watch him!"
I remain motionless for a few seconds, then move quickly -- offering him the rag as I
command "Take him!" This is done in a manner so that the pup gets a hit in high
prey drive and is fully engaged in the game. I make it a lot of fun for the pup! If he tries to
grab the rag ahead of the "Take him" command, I simply lift the rag out of reach. This
denies any reward for the errant behavior, and the pup quickly learns to alert but restrain himself.
Most importantly, we both have fun. After a few seconds of raucous play-fighting, I command
"Out!" and cease all motion (reward/gratification). I calmly take the pup's
jaws from the rag with one hand, while lifting the rag out of reach with the other hand. I then
resume my beginning-of-the-game posture to start another round.
The pup soon learns to come off by himself in anticipation of starting another round of this really
fun game. After he is really proficient at this game, he can start manwork and will never have a
problem with the out command. This game can also be used for remedial work with older dogs.
It will be most effective if not directly associated with manwork.