Steps for a GREAT Retrieve!


I have been asked many times HOW I teach a Retrieve.

Over the next few weeks and months, I am planning on posting a series of videos of Karrde as he learns a retrieve. The videos will appear on the Debby Quigley Facebook page. The processes will go from teaching games to the more formal DB retrieve.

Hahahahahha .. This is going to be a job but hope it helps everyone. :>)

First step

Here is Karrde’s first attempts at learning the DB retrieve. It is important to note that Karrde has done all the previous Retrieve games I have posted, but this is the first formal training we have attempted.

The goal of the Cookie Exchange is to teach Karrde to except and take the DB. This will give the DB more value and encourage Karrde to take the DB. During training, the treat is kept opposite of my dog’s mouth until delivered. Ideally, when delivered, the treat is slipped under the DB if possible. The treat is “exchanged” for the DB once Karrde puts his mouth around the bar to get the treat. Later during Karrde’s career, I will exchange a treat for all retrieve objects. This is a great way to encourage a “HOLD.”

IMPORTANT: my left hand NEVER will let go of the DB.

Video Notes: In the beginning of this video, I demonstrate how to hold a treat up against the DB bar and how to deliver the treat. Ideally, keep the treat opposite your dog’s mouth. When rewarding, it is best to slip treat under the bar, and exchange the treat for the DB. I.e. you take the DB out of his mouth when you slip the treat into his mouth.

Session 1 – First section of the clip is showing how holding the treat away from the DB in the learning steps elicits problematic responses. Once I place the treat on or close to the bar, Karrde seems to settle into the Exchange Game. First, I praise and treat anytime Karrde touches the bar. When he offers a behavior, I do not want, like a down, I use a negative marker and/or remove the DB. Overall, I am pleased with Karrde’s enthusiasm and effort. This was a short session.

Session 2 – Karrde has not seen the DB since Cookie Exchange Session 1. In this session, Karrde gives even more effort. The treat is placed on/near the DB. When he puts his mouth over DB bar, I deliver the treat to him and “exchange” the treat for the DB. If he begins to quite, I remove and represent the DB to him. Not bad for two sessions. Time to move on to the next step!

Will post again soon. Enjoy!

Second Step

To date, Karrde has been introduced to all the FUN games I use to start teaching value and desire for the dumbbell retrieve.

In this session, Karrde is learning how to take and hold the DB. During the entire session, I will hold on to Karrde’s collar with my pinky and ring finger of my left hand. Once Karrde takes a DB, I hold on to the DB with my thumb and index finger. I continue holding on to his collar with my pinky and ring finger. This enables me to take a treat with my right hand and “exchange” for the DB.

Karrde picked up on the concept very rapidly in these two sessions. I give markers when Karrde gives effort or when he does behaviors I do not want. If he does not give effort, I give his treat to another dog and or end the session.

Third Step – Taking a Step with the Dumbbell

Once Karrde will readily take the DB, he needs to learn how to hold and walk with it in his mouth.

  • To teach this, first I review the foundation with Karrde sitting and taking the DB.
  • Next, after he has taken the DB, I encourage him to move forward a step or two, while I praise and then reward.
  • Note, I am still holding his collar with my left hand and NEVER let go of the DB.
  • Pin this video, Karrde is moving toward me, I am not pulling on his collar.
  • Once he has moved a step or two, I exchange the DB for a piece of cheese.
  • We will continue with this Step until I feel Karrde is comfortable holding and walking with the DB.
  • This is where he begins to learn my criteria for the DB.
  • The DB will not be THROWN until Karrde has a true understanding of how to take, hold, and walk with the DB.
  • Stay Tuned – More to come!