Directional Casting

DC Pic use

One of the tricks Thor is learning for is ITD (intermediate trick dog title) is Directional Casting. I wanted to choose this one from the list of possible tricks since it is a valuable tool for him to use in his modeling/acting career.

What is directional casting?

Just like the name suggests it’s sending the actor in a specific direction. For the trick title he needs to go to the location that I as his handler/trainer send him. Directional casting is used for animal acting, search and rescue (SAR) dogs, and in field retrieving as well as dog sports like agility and canine freestyle.

This is a new trick for Thor although he does have some experience with “go to mark”. I started by folding up two blanket into smaller squares and placing them about 3 feet apart. I had him come into position on my left hand side and starting just about a foot from one blanket I held my arm out straight leading towards the blanket. This is similar to what we do if we we’re pointing out a missed treat (#messyeatingbulldogs) or pointing to a toy to bring to us, so he already knew to look in that direction and see what I was leading towards. Once he took a step or two and was on the blanket I tossed the treat in front of him. Gradually we started further from the blanket and then I started sending him to the other blanket as well.

I just love his smile!
I just love his smile!

What we need to work on:

  • Distance- I need to work on distance with every trick we know! We wont be able to use these tricks for modeling/acting if he stops working when he gets just 3-4 feet from me. If he’s in a stay I can get as much distance as I’d like but he wont perform other behaviors I ask of him until Im again within just a few feet.
  • Duration- He will go to the selected mat but after he gets his treat then he will either search the other mat or wander towards me. Since we just started really working on this today I wasn’t asking for long duration in staying at the selected mat but we will need to build on this. In animal acting duration also means doing the behavior over and over and over again reliably and with the same desired energy.
  • Distraction- At one point Johnny jumped over the gate to check out what we were doing and Thor was so worried about him getting the treats/attention that he stopped working until Johnny was settled watching from a distance.

Focus- This is my fault. Thor once had great focus, we would be able to work on tricks or behaviors for an hour or more without his getting too bored or deciding other things looked like a lot more fun. Then we got Raylee and that changed how much time I was able to dedicate to him. I try to balance training between the dogs but with Thor’s medical flair ups, Raylee’s big acting jobs, and of course just typical work/life balance it can be a challenge. I dont blame him for getting the sillies or deciding he suddenly needs to drink a full bowl of water after just a short training session today.  Not only are we as a team out of practice but also he recently had a severe allergy flair up and ended up needing a steroid shot just to relive the constant itching and scratching. Ill have to post about the effects I notice and the physical/mental changes steroids cause him another day. For now I need to stick to more frequent, shorter training sessions.

I can see a few ways to build on this trick. Sending him to a distance and staying in that position ie. not turning to look at me. Sending him to a mark. Sending him to the mat to help us learn distance. Sending him to a mat or pedestal as a DIR to work on his re-activity with other dogs. What other ways can you see using directional casting or ‘place’ training?

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