Successive Approximation

In some tests of green dogs, I see trainers take a dog on a sleeve, and then shoot the gun directly over their head.  The vast majority of green dogs will at a minimum startle over this unless they have been conditioned (taught) to bite under gunfire. Using this as a method to weed out dogs at the beginning of training, is in my opinion, faulty as it weeds out perfectly good dogs.

I do agree that a dog chosen for patrol training should have some reasonable threshold at which it will accept gunfire – such as 30 or so yards away – so that it doesn’t startle at strange noises. Agreed.

The way I like to see the test, is to start at 30 yards, and if the dog stays on the grip through the gunfire, move the gun closer to the dog and decoy (about 5 yard increments) and repeat, then closer and repeat, and finally move AWAY 5 yards and shoot a final time. This is a successful training session employing successive approximation. We are tryig tosuccessively (incrementally) approximate shooting directly over the dog’s head. If you continue this process, in about 2 or three more sessions, the gun will be directly behind the decoy and the dog has been conditioned to accept the gunfire in proximity to him, as he bites through the noise.

As you can see, this can be done in training as well. A little pre-planing can make it so that you don;t create problems you then have to go back and fix.

Think about how you can use this method to teach youg dogs to bite on stairs, open stairs, tight spaces, bite through thresholds, bite up on top of objects, etc…..pre planning and successive approximation is the key!

Note: When the gunfire gets close, protect your dog;s hearing. Use the same successive approximation (perhaps using food reward) to get your dog to accept cotton balls in his ears without scratching at them. This will come in handy when you go to the range and practice shooting over your dog…..of course after proper successive approximation.