Capping Drive

Capping drive comes from the dog sport of the same name and basically is a means of calming the dog when the dog is in a high energy state of mind. Capping drive is how dog sport trainers get the quick “sit” or “down” and a calm dog when a decoy is agitating or running across the field in a bite suit. The dog learns to go into a certain behavior to get food, a toy, or to bite a bite suit, or to play “tug.”

Capping drive can also be used with pets.

If your dog really likes food, and most puppies do, you will notice the puppy learns to sit quickly to get a treat. Once the pup knows the “sit” command, they will offer that behavior if you have food in your hand until it becomes automatic. Once you teach the “down” command, your pup will also go down quickly to get the treat. If you teach the command “come” by backing away from the pup and then rewarding them with a treat, then soon you will see the pup running towards you because the faster he gets to you, the faster he gets the treat.

With adult dogs, you train by using whatever the dog is most motivated with. If we are talking about sport or working dogs, as they mature they would prefer play over food. This is why they are working dogs. The dog learns the quicker he “sits”, does “down”, “come”, or finishes a task the quicker he gets his toy. It’s all about timing. The reward should be within 1.5 seconds of the behavior. When training with a toy reward, there are 3 important key points necessary for you to be successful. If your dog loves working for food and not toys, use food.

  1. The dog must love the toy or food
  2. The dog must have a solid “out” (let go when told to)
  3. The dog must retrieve the toy (bring it back to initiate more play, not keep away)

For pet training to have a really solid recall, “capping drive” by teaching the dog to stop chasing, turn around, and come back to you in the middle of chasing a ball, you must immediately reward the dog’s return to you with the second ball you had in your pocket. This way, the dog is learning to listen and he will be rewarded. Initially, when you start this exercise you will want your dog on a long line.  The first time you try this, the dog is going to say “forget you saying come, I’m going to get that ball”. The line stops the dog, gets him to return, and then – abracadabra – you’re a magician and there’s another ball!

Teaching the recall when the dog is in drive or motivated to chase takes time. The next time you throw the ball the dog maybe slow to chase. Keep the line on him and continue to play fetch. Then, try another recall and reward with the ball. Always stop the play when the dog is wanting more. Don’t overdo it or your dog will quit on you. After a few sessions, you will have a solid recall and you’ll have a dog that will recall back to you off of prey, or “the ball”.

The next time your dog is chasing a squirrel or deer, you’ll have a lot better chance of getting the dog to return because he’s already learned to recall off of prey.

When I trained police dogs we taught the dog that being calm was rewarded with the bite. Every year, we would certify the dogs. An uncontrollable dog that barks, lunges, and won’t sit next to the handler because someone is out in the field with a sleeve is undesirable. Lack of control gets you sued. The dogs that are calm on the line, sitting, and quiet have been trained to cap their drive. Calm, sit, and quiet gets you released to run down the field and bite the bad man. Dogs bred to do police work do love to bite.

If you have a dog that’s behavior is overly excited when it sees another dog, the mail carrier, or someone knocking at the door, your dog needs to taught that calmly sitting quietly gets affection, not obnoxious barking lunging and jumping.

I believe some of the best trainers come from dog sports backgrounds. If you need help with your dog in West Michigan, please contact our dog training team here at Adams K-9 and let us help you to incorporate some obedience in your dog’s play. We are only a phone call away, see how far we can help you go!

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