Re: How do I teach my dog "hold it"?
Okay .. this is what I'm doing with Tazer. I wouldn't be quite so hands-on with a really sensitive dog, perhaps, but this is not really harsh in any way.
She knows "take it" (I use a dumbbell for training). When it came to hold, she tended to let go of it easily, so when she would take the dumbbell I would immediately drop one hand below her chin, in a fist position with my thumb up, and then bump her chin lightly to encourage her to keep her head up. While I was doing this, I praised constantly as long as the dumbbell remained in her mouth - and I only gave it a few seconds initially before saying "YESS!" and taking the dumbbell out of her mouth. The "YESS!" is how I mark the behavior - you could also click at that point. I want the behavior marked WHILE the dumbbell is in her mouth, not after she lets go.
I quickly grab the dumbbell because once I mark the behavior, she knows that she doesn't have to continue and then she'll drop the dumbbell, but that's okay. I've marked the right behavior. They have to figure out that holding it is what gets the treat, and that's tough when they've learned that letting go of it is when the treat is presented.
As we practice, I gradually increase the amount of time for the hold - I continue to gently bump under the chin, but I try to do it as little as possible because that has to be phased out (the more you depend on it, the longer it takes to fade it). I continue to mark the holding behavior and rewarding, just at longer intervals.
I also tend to play tug games with my dogs that encourage them to grab on hard and hold on hard - to the point of actually playing tug WITH the dumbbell with some dogs. I wouldn't do that if I had a dog that hates to let go of things, but with my young chow I've played tug games with the dumbbell in order to increase her desire to hold tight (she's not a natural retrieving dog). And I've used lopsided dumbbells - weighted heavier on one side - to encourage dogs to hold tighter. Lopsided dumbbells have to be held tightly or they shift in the dog's mouth.
Melanie and the gang in Alaska
Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience