GET IT! Teaching the Reliable Retrieve

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By Betsy Scapicchio and Linda Brennan

Part of the Train the Top Dog Way Video Series

A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching a Reliable and Motivated Retrieve
Part of the Train the Top Dog Way Series

Every dog needs to learn to retrieve. Even if your dog is a natural retriever, we still go through all of the steps to ensure that we always have a reliable retrieve. This video is a complete step-by-step guide to teaching a reliable and motivated retrieve.

There are many criteria for a perfect retrieve. First, we want our dog to mark the dumbbell. Then we want him to run out to get it, pick it up cleanly and quickly, and return to us just a fast. So it is important to spend the time to do each and every step so that your dog will understand exactly how you want him to retrieve. Don’t tempted to rush through it or skip any steps! You will only end up having to go back and retrain the steps that you skipped after your discover that your dog has a problem. This will cause more stress for the dog and for you. There are many exercises in obedience that are based on retrieving, including gloves and articles. Short cuts in your dumbbell retrieve training can result in big problems in those exercises later. And remember, it is always better to train it right the first time!

The whole first section of this video is on teaching the hold. We spend a tremendous amount of time teaching the hold before we ever start asking the dog to take the dumbbell. Many of the problems that people have later on are directly related to the hold. For example, mouthing, pouncing on the dumbbell, or avoiding bringing it back, can all be caused by a poor hold. We don’t want to ruin a beautiful retrieve by having the dog chomping on the dumbbell when he brings it in. If you think about it, it is unrealistic to think that we can teach our dog to retrieve something if he won’t even hold it well.

We also want to make sure that our dogs understand that when we send them on a retrieve we expect them to get and come back with the dumbbell. We also expect that the dog will do it quickly and directly. We take our time teaching this important skill so that we can rely on the dog to do his job in the ring. We teach first and then continually motivate and proof throughout the dog’s life. We challenge the dog with proofing, but are careful to keep his success rate high. We motivate, motivate, motivate, so that the majority of our dog’s retrieves are motivational!

That’s the Train the Top Dog Way of teaching a reliable retrieve, do you “Get It?”

(68 minutes

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