Teaching the pickup

You and Buddy have arrived at the final progression of teaching him to retrieve — the pick-up. Resist the temptation to just throw the dumbbell and expect Buddy to pick it up and bring it back. He may actually do it, but he also may not. He may just chase it and then stand over it, not knowing what to do next. In the long run, make sure that he knows what you expect by teaching him.

1. Have Buddy sit at your left side and place the chair with the treats on it behind you.

2. With your fingers in his collar, hold the dumbbell about two inches from Buddy's mouth and say "Take it."

3. When he does, praise enthusiastically, say "Give," remove the dumbbell from his mouth, and reward him with a treat.

Your goal is to lower the dumbbell in two-inch increments toward the ground and have Buddy retrieve it from your hand.

4. When you get to the ground, place the bell of the dumbbell on the ground and hold it at a 45-degree angle.

5. Say, "Take it," and when Buddy takes the dumbbell, take your hand out of the collar, say, "Hold it," and back up two steps.

He'll quickly come to you to get his reward.

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6. Praise, remove, and reward.

7. Repeat until he is comfortable picking up the dumbbell with you holding it at that angle.

8. Place the dumbbell on the ground but keep your hand on it.

9. Have Buddy retrieve the dumbbell several times while you have your hand on it.

10. Hold your hand first 2 inches, and then 6 inches, and then 12 inches away from the dumbbell until you can place it on the ground and stand up straight.

11. Each time he retrieves the dumbbell, back up several steps, praise, remove, and reward.

12. If your dog doesn't pick up the dumbbell from the ground, lightly twist the collar until he picks it up.

If this sequence becomes an issue and your dog continues to refuse to take the dumbbell, review the prior progressions. Make sure that you followed them religiously and that your dog has mastered each progression before you went on to the next.

13. Say, "Stay," and place the dumbbell one foot in front of your dog.

14. Say, "Take it," and when he brings it back, praise, remove, and reward.

15. Repeat by first placing it three feet and then six feet in front of your dog.

Your dog will tell you how many times in a row you can ask him to retrieve. If he has many prey drive behaviors, you can get in quite a few repetitions. If not, he'll quickly lose enthusiasm. You're better off stopping after five repetitions and picking the game up again at the next session.

For the dog, picking up a dumbbell that you placed on the ground isn't terribly exciting, and if it weren't for the reward, it would be an absolute bore. Still, this sequence is necessary because you want your dog to learn he has to do it for you and not for himself.

Dog Potty Training

Dog Potty Training

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