Hold it – Starting the Dumbbell Retrieve
While there are many ways to teach the dumbbell retrieve, first and foremost is to teach your dog how to hold the dumbbell without mouthing it. Depending on my dog’s natural tendency, (some tend to mouth the dumbbell more than others), if it is bad, I will take to 2-3 months just working on a solid hold before I ever throw the dumbbell for my dog. Once I get a good hold with my dog in a sit position, then I will add in some position changes such as ask my dog to go from a sit to a stand and visa versa or come to a front. Asking a dog to walk while holding onto the dumbbell without dropping can be a challenge so I spend as much time as I need to on it. Then I will ask my dog to walk with it, run, do recalls on the flat and over a high jump, I do all this ensuring my dog does not mouth the dumbbell.
Stop It – Mouthing That Is
Once I have all this in place, then I will start to do throws. For some dogs it may come very quickly, others it may take longer. I find most people are way to impatient, they want the retrieve now! And with the retrieve brings on excitement, and excitement can help to induce mouthing. As I travel around giving seminars I see a lot of dumbbells that are severely chewed! And the handler would like me to fix this problem in a 5-10 minute session. The problem at this point is serious and has been allowed over and over again. Once something becomes muscle memory in the dog’s mind, it is very difficult to change the behaviour. The only real solution to this is to go back to the beginning in your retrieve training and teach a proper hold. So my advice to you is don’t be in a rush! You’ve got lots of time! Your dog will probably not be in the open ring until he is about 3 years old so take your time and do it right the first time around.
Video Training Tip
I started to teach Pounce a clicked hold when she was 10 weeks old. I worked on it on and off and then took time away from it while she was teething. Once the teething finished, she had a base of hold training to fall back on and we moved from the hold, to take it, to position changes holding it, to moving with it, to taking it off a chair, off the floor, fronting with it, all with the expectations of NO MOUTHING which were taught to her during the hold training. I then started on the retrieving process and teaching her not to hit it with her feet. Pounce was fairly resistant and slow with the clicker hold, but I didn’t rush her and built her confidence and want to with accepting small successes. It was not an easy process with her, but one that was rewarding, successful and positive in the end. As you can see by her retrieving, it was well worth the time & effort.
Dumbbell Retrieve Examples
Watch some of Janice’s students that have followed her Clicked, Hold and Retrieve Program
Watch Pounce, the demo puppy in Janice’s Clicked Hold/Retrieve DVD, now working her retrieve at 10 months of age.