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Bite-and-Carry Channels Everything

Leah Lykos

When you leash up your dog for a walk, the two of you have very different objectives. You, being a simple human, would love to take a leisurely stroll, drinking in the sights and sounds on a beautiful day. Or perhaps you want to go for a jog to get the blood pumping and enjoy a little runner's high. In either case, you would like for your dog to have the same idea that you do, that you will both walk or jog on a path, street, or sidewalk, in a somewhat straight line and at a steady pace, ignoring so-called distractions. Your dog, being a highly skilled-predator and direct descendant of the wolf, has a very different agenda. Your dog is hunting. What is he hunting for? Well, anything that moves, really, it could be a squirrel, a cat, a fellow dog (potential team member), or perhaps he's hunting for predators. Whether he's experiencing play-drive, prey-drive, or fight/flight-drive, there's really just ONE drive. He wants to connect to his environment in a way that makes him feel good: he wants to feel safe, emotionally grounded, accomplished, and in sync with his fellow hunters and teammates. 

So how do we make our hunting-obsessed dogs feel great when they are out and about, hunting for play, prey and predator? Give them an object! All that drive has to go somewhere. If they don't understand where to direct their drive, it will always go away from you, the handler. Instead, let's capture that energy and use it to our advantage. We can channel a dog's drive into a preyful object that will automatically emotionally ground him. 

Ever noticed how puppies, much like babies, put everything in their mouths? Well, that's where it all starts. The "little brain" in the gut basically wants to ingest everything--it is hungry not just for food but for information. And have you ever noticed that your adult dog loves to carry around his toys, or perhaps hunts for the perfect stick that will become a beloved object on your woods walk? Well, these dogs are still in touch with their drive to connect, and luckily that drive has been preserved past puppyhood. They feel flow when they are grounded into an object and are therefore able to "ingest" their environment. 

What we call the "bite-and-carry" is the perfect way to get your dog to channel his drive into a calm and collected walk. I've noticed that when I collect my dogs this way, whatever it is that stimulates them can be channeled into the bite toy. Whether it is a squirrel, cat, children (for my hyper-friendly dog), other dogs (play/fight drive), or even a moose, yes, it's works on moose, deer, turkeys, and other wildlife as well, my dogs know that if they come when called, I will provide for them the perfect prey/play/fight. 

And that's all they really care about. Can your dog hunt, play, fight, and ingest all the stimuli in the entire world through an object that you possess and control? Then your dog training problems are solved!


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