When the Dog Hovers During the Retrieve – Opposition Reflex

When the Dog Hovers During the Retrieve  - Opposition Reflex

Opposition Reflex is based on pressure creating counter-pressure. One of the simplest examples is when someone comes and pulls you by your arm. There are three potential outcomes.

1. You allow yourself to be lead and follow the person.
2. You pull your arm back with equal force so you would not move from your spot.
3. You punch the person with your other arm - not recommended  🙂

We can utilize this concept very successfully while troubleshooting multiple challenges in IGP.
For instance, some dogs "hover" when the Handler throws the dumbbell. Hovering is when the dog's rear does not have full contact with the ground. The dog prepares to run after the dumbbell and lifts his rear.

Many Handlers say SIT, provide correction of their choice, and get the dog back into the proper position with the rear solid on the ground. Unfortunately, not all dogs easily understand this training scenario. The correction is frequently given time after time.

What could work better - Opposition Reflex. You will need an Assistant for this solution. The Assistant will have a leash attached to the dog's collar while the Handler has another leash in his hand attached to another collar.

The Handler will tell the dog to SIT and will swing the arm with the dumbbell. The instance the dog's rear lifts up, the Assistant will pull the dog forward. Simultaneously, the Handler repeats the command to SIT and pulls the dog into the Basic Position. Please do not choke the dog.

You can take a quick turn. The Assistant pulls the dog forward and slightly releases a little bit of pressure; the instance this happens - the Handler pulls the dog into the Basic Position stronger than before.

The dog will struggle against the Assistant's pressure to remain sitting and work harder to maintain contact with the ground. The moment the dog is close to the correct position, the Assistant releases pressure, the dog makes contact with the ground, the Handler marks and reinforces.

It is important that when the dog is on the way to the correct position in response to the Handler's leash, the Assistant does not pull too hard to prevent the dog altogether from offering the correct behavior.

If you repeat this a few times, the dog will anticipate being pulled out of the correct position and will brace against potential pressure. This will cause his rear to be planted firmly on the ground instead of hovering.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions at the bottom of the screen.

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