This is a command a started with Jackie CD before he passed away last year. Jackie and I were planning on competing at AKC Open trials this year. Life and death are unpredictable fellows though, and they stepped in and ruined our plans.
I just finished Magoo’s Companion Dog title. Although we do not NEED to do any more Novice trials, I will probably keep him in the game until we are pointing in the low 190s. In the meantime, I will start training the exercises for the Open trials.
Many dog trainers prefer to train their dog to Utility and then start the trials. I am very new in the competition game, and Magoo is not my dog. So I don’t really know how long I will have complete access to Magoo. Also, judging by the MANY mistakes I made in preparing for Novice my first times out, I would rather not carry forward such beginner mistakes into the more advanced levels of competing. Once I finish a dog in Utility, I will most likely move towards training a dog all the way through before even competing at the Novice levels. Time will tell, and experience sometimes changes the way you do things.
Leon, a dog that I do not compete with due to his knees, is also going to learn the working retrieve. He has an auto stand, however, and we will be working from that position instead of the auto sit stay. Leon has a play retrieve and loves it, and I would just like to firm up our work. He will stop when he is “not in the mood” or treats aren’t flowing freely. A working dog, like a working human, needs to understand that it is a job. Luckily, most dogs enjoy having a job, and just need to learn the rules of that job. There is a lot of pride and partnership that goes into getting a working level out of a dog. I am really not close to there yet, compared to other trainers who have been in the business 30-40 years, and were even perhaps reared in a family familiar with the dog profession. Even us “old dogs” can learn new tricks though.
The first thing that I will train for (beyond firming up my Novice performance) is the working retrieve. Sadly, I did not find my own notes on this exercise. So the first thing I will do is plan out exactly how the first week will go.
I recommend for clients and myself to go through the crating procedures, and then do a fifteen minute warm up on the old stuff before beginning the new exercises for the dog. Once those are done, you are ready to begin.
STEP 1: Warm up on Novice exercises until the dog is focused and attentive.
STEP 2: Leash should be dragging on the dog for the newness of this exercise, so while you are getting used to presenting the dumbbell, your foot on the leash will prevent beginning the exercise properly.
STEP 3: Come to a halt in the heel position.
STEP 4: The left hand is positioned on top of the dog’s muzzle at the mid point. Done correctly the thumb will be pointed towards the trainer, and the fingers will be on the far side opposite.
STEP 5: Center the dumbell in the palm of your right hand, and bring it against the dog’s mouth.
STEP 6: Say the command “[Dogs’ Name] fetch”, tighten your fingers and thumb along the dog’s mouth so that it opens, and allow the dumbell to roll into the mouth so that it is right behind the canine’s teeth. Don’t allow the dumbbell to roll to the back of the mouth, as that is something you will need to retrain later, if you do.
STEP 7: The thumb and fingers of your right hand now gently hold the muzzle closed around the dumbell, while your left hand moves from the top of the muzzle to scratch places on the dog’s head that they enjoy (ie right behind the ears). Praise your dog as you do this “[Dogs’ Name] Good [Boy or Girl]” for instance.
STEP 8: Move your right hand from the muzzle as you say “[Dog’s Name] give”, and take the dumbell gently from them.
STEP 9: Release your dog with an okay.
STEP 10: Repeat ten times each session by going back to the beginning. Change the location each time you come to a halt. Do this for at least two sessions during the day. Seperate the sessions by the hours that you find convenient.
Should have video of a practice to follow. NOTE: IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU HAVE NOVICE SKILLS DOWN ADEQUATELY FIRST BEFORE GOING TO A WORKING RETRIEVE.
Here is a very rough probably incorrect video of me and Jack trying this for the first time last year.