Directed Retrieve – Gloves Classroom


The Glove exercise consists of your dog sitting at heel, retrieving a glove that he is directed to, go to and pick up the glove and return to his owner and front. When on the judges order the handler will take the glove from the dog. This exercise has a “dead” retrieve.

A ‘dead’ object is something that the dog doesn’t see thrown and it never moves. The glove exercise is the exercise where gloves are placed out and do not move. The techniques used in this class not only teach your dog to run out quickly, retrieve the glove, and return it to you but also in a happy, animated, and focused, manner. Furthermore techniques are taught to the handler so that they handler can pivot with confidence towards the correct glove each and every time.

PDF Files to help your training!
Problem Solving PDF
Training Log PDF
Points to Remember PDF

Questions? Click to Email

While doing gloves, your dog should maintain energy and focus on you during the pivot. Your dog should not look at the glove until your hand drops for the mark. Upon sending, your dog should go directly to the glove, pick it up without mouthing or playing and, without looking around, promptly return to you and front. Your dog will remain in front of you holding the glove until given a release command.

Teaching the skill – Marking

Level 1: Teaching the Mark – Cookie on Plate (starting with one plate).

Begin with your dog at your side holding his collar in your right hand. One white paper plate is already placed a few feet in front of you.

  • Place a treat on the plate with your left hand (your left hand will be over the right which is holding the dog’s collar).
  • After placing the treat on the plate, hold your hand out and next to your dog’s head marking the direction of the treat and plate.
  • When your dog looks at the treat/plate, give your “get it” command (since it is a treat) and release his collar.
  • As soon as your dog gets to the plate, urgently tell him to come as you move away. You want to see a quick tight turn.
  • Now is when you will instill the habit of turning tightly and coming to you quickly.
  • Make sure you play either a Jump to Hand game or present a toy for a great game of tug. Energy and focus back to you is built at this stage.
End Goal – To have your dog to stare focused at a plate that you place a treat on.  Run out and grab the treat and turn to come back to you for a game.

Level 2: Growing the game

Once your dog is successfully (80-90% of the time) marking the treat, going quickly to it, picking up the treat, turning tight and racing back to you, add another plate. There are still NO fronts or pivots towards a plate.

  • Place the 2 plates so they are 10 feet apart. Play or line your dog up close to and facing the new plate.
  • Again hold the collar with your right hand and the left hand places the treat on the plate and marks the direction for the dog.
  • Send the dog to the treat once he is looking at the plate.
  • Remember to encourage a tight turn AND a fast return to you. Greet him with a Jump to hand game or a game of tug.
  • Continue to add more plates until you have 3-4 placed out.
  • The plates may be in a slight curve or in a straight line.
End Goal – To have your dog to stare focused at one plate that you place a treat on.  Run out and grab the treat and turn to come back to you for a game.

Level 3: continue to grow

Your dog is now marking the plate, running out, grabbing the treat, and running back to you while you are moving away and greeting the dog with a treat or tug game when he catches you.

  • Intermittently discontinue holding the collar.
  • Play with your dog and line-up facing a plate.
  • Have your dog in a sit next to you.
  • Place a treat on the plate in front of you, stand up, mark the plate and send your dog as before.
  • Still encourage a tight turn and fast return.
  • If your dog anticipates leaving for the treat, do NOT correct.
  • On the next try simply give your dog a reminder to sit or use a slip lead to prevent the dog anticipating.

Also once your dog will sit and you can mark the plate while your dog remains at your side, over time, gradually add distance from the plates. Ideally you want to be 10 to 15 feet from them. Continue to build drive and enthusiasm for the pickup and the return.

End Goal –  To have your dog to stare focused at one plate that you place a treat on.  Run out and grab the treat and turn to come back to you for a game.

Teaching the skill – adding gloves
When your dog will mark a plate consistently when you are 10-15 feet away, you will add gloves. Your dog should have set retrieve criteria. Before adding the glove to the directed retrieve, it is a good idea to review ALL your criteria with your dog using a glove.

Level 4: adding gloves

  • Start with 2 gloves approximately 10-15 feet apart.
  • Line up about 10 feet from the glove you want to mark and face the glove.
  • Remember that your dog should always be looking at you until you drop your hand for the mark.
  • Send to each glove separately while the other lies out as a distraction.
  • You can add the third glove once the dog is confidently marking, picking up and holding the glove, turning tightly, and returning to you quickly.
  • Increase your distance from the glove from 10 feet to 25 feet.
End Goal – To have your dog to stare focused on a glove. To run out and grab the glove and turn to come back to you for a game. 

Level 5: Adding pivots

Only AFTER your dog understands and is confident about the mark and retrieving the glove with the criteria you have established. The pivot needs to be taught as a separate skill and needs to be understood and accurate before integrating a pivot into the Directed Retrieve.

  • When adding the pivot, start with one glove.
  • Stand 5 to 10 feet from the glove.
  • Only add distance and or additional gloves once your dog is confidently doing the pivot.
  • Never send your dog to the glove when the pivot wasn’t performed in the manner which you require.
  • Doing so is communicating to your dog that the pivot and effort he gave you was acceptable.
End Goal – Our goal is to teach the dog to stare focused at the glove when marked by the handler. Once commanded, the dog should go quickly to the glove, pick it up without mouthing or dropping. Lastly, the dog should look for and come directly and quickly to the handler.


  • Work on your hold or retrieve problems separately.
  • Work on pivots separately only adding to gloves when marking and retrieving is perfected. NEVER accept a bad pivot.
  • Always work on and balance drive. To encourage drive, use a string on the glove. If your dog is slow, pull the glove away by the string, saying “you missed it, get it, get it”. Go back and review drive building games before proceeding with teaching gloves. If you have a driven pup, keep your praise and rewards low value.


The following are some proofing ideas from “Success is in the Proofing”. The book covers the how to’s and why’s of proofing for all levels from Novice to Utility.

Proofing relating to anticipation:

  • As you pivot toward a glove, freeze your motion. Your dog should stop when you do and not continue to turn.
  • Place three gloves out in the usual manner. Instruct your helper to stand where the judge normally would if you were showing your dog. Execute a pivot and mark the glove. Have your helper say your fetch command or any other word while your dog is looking at the glove.

Proofing involving environmental factors:

  • Place your gloves on the ground in preparation for the directed retrieve. Stand with your dog in heel position while your helper stands approximately two feet from you and facing you. Talk with your helper briefly. While he is still talking use a very quiet voice to give your pivot command and begin to turn.
  • Test your dog’s ability to hold the glove firmly. Attach a string to the glove. Hold onto the other end of the string. Send your dog to retrieve the glove. As he is picking up the glove or bringing it to you, gently pull on the string.

Note: if your dog makes a mistake, mark the error and show your dog how to be correct. Start with easy proofing and gradually add difficulty as your dog becomes a STAR.

PDF Files to help your training!
Problem Solving PDF
Training Log PDF
Points to Remember PDF

Questions? Click to Email


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