Using a Ball or Tug as the Primary Reward

In K9 Nose Work, you can use either food or toys as the primary reward.  The key is to select the one that your dog really really likes.  There are many ways to use a toy reward to put value on an odor….but the key thing to remember is that all the play must occur right over the hide.  If your dog likes to chase a ball, then the handler can make the ball “spring” out from right over the source.  Do this with multiple balls, one at a time, you will soon have the dog racing back to this hide to have another ball “spring” out from source.  Watch it though, as this type of reward-play can make the dog back up away from the hide, anticipating where the ball where go, not where it comes from.  Obviously we don’t want that in a sport that requires pinpoint precision, so the dog’s head should be down near source before “springing” the ball.

Alternately, it is easier to use a tug toy or a ball on a rope.  All tugging must occur over source and, if the dog pulls too far away, just let go and wait for the dog to re-engage the game over source.  Use another similar toy to get the dog back if necessary until the dog naturally learns to push back into your hand.

If the only toy that a dog likes is a tennis ball or squeaky toy that does not come with a rope on it and if you don’t want to punch a hole in the ball or toy and thread in some clothes line, then order a Ball Jock…..

You can still throw the ball with these on but the balls don’t roll so far from source and they make it easy to use any ball to play tug over source.

Have fun!

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