Get It Game Classroom

Now that your dog can readily jump to each of your hands for a treat with the Jump to Hand game, and do the Cookie Toss game you are all set to begin to teach him the “Get It game.”

The “Get it Game” will enhance your dog’s targeting ability, as he will learn to quickly locate his target, move intently toward it, pick it up without hesitation and then return energetically focusing on you. This skill is especially useful if you would like your dog to retrieve toys, dumbbells, articles, and gloves with enthusiasm!

Before you begin, have ready any treats or toys you may need for the game.

End Goal – For your dog to run out, grab a toy/treat and return to you quickly, with enthusiasm, and without any extra motion or verbal commands. The skill of running out and returning quickly should become a HABIT.

Level 1 – Teaching the fundamentals

  • Put your dog at your left or right side.
  • Hold your dog’s collar (and leash if in an unenclosed area) with your hand closest to your dog and hold a couple treats in your free hand.
  • Energetically excite your dog (such as “Ready, Ready”) and toss the treat approximately three feet in front of your dog. Immediately release your dog and tell him to “Get it!”
  • Releasing your dog while the treat is still moving will elicit his prey drive and increase his intensity and desire to move away from you quickly.
  • As soon as your dog reaches for the treat, encourage him to come back to you quickly by calling his name, using your recall command, clapping your hands and/or moving away.
  • When your dog is about two feet from you, stop moving. Bring your hand out from your side and tell your dog to get a treat (Like the Jump to Hand game) or a toy that is in your hand.
  • Practice sending your dog from both your left and right side.
  • Practice this game in new locations with varied distractions. Good and safe locations include your back yard, your bedroom, garage, or anywhere that is enclosed and safe.
  • Use a lot of reward and games when your dog gets back to you.
  • Make it FUN!

As soon as your dog’s drive to chase the treat is apparent in all locations and with varied distractions, you are ready to proceed to Level 2 of the game.

While you play the Get It game with your dog, be sure to regain his focus after he jumps for a treat or toy in your hand. You can do this by having him jump for an additional treat, playing tug, or by simply praising, clapping your hands, and talking to him as you prepare to play the game again!

Level 2 – Varying the rules of the game

  • Sporadically delay sending your dog for the treat until the treat is no longer moving.
  • Use either a treat OR a toy.
  • Sometimes send your dog as soon as you toss the treat/toy.
  • Sometimes send your dog just as the treat/toy stops moving.
  • Sometimes send your dog once the treat/toy no longer is moving.
  • Vary the distance you throw the toy/treat. You want your dog to be equally fast whether the treat/toy is close or far away.
  • Toss the treat/toy just a couple feet away
  • The next time, toss it five, eight or even ten feet in front of your dog.
  • Alternate practicing the “Get It game” with your dog at your right or left side.
  • Continue to encourage your dog to come back with intensity and focus by moving quickly away from him and rewarding him with a treat/toy from your right or left hand.
  • Use a lot of reward and games when your dog gets back to you.
  • Make it FUN!
  • Practice in locations unfamiliar to your dog and in distracting situations.

Make sure your dog’s drive, focus and intensity continue to develop for this game. Once it is very apparent that your dog’s drive is intact for this game, it is time to make yet another modification.
Level 3 – Retrieving a treat or toy placed on the ground
This level is important because it will help your dog learn to retrieve a treat or toy with enthusiasm when it is simply placed on the ground in front of him. The understanding and application of this skill is necessary if you would like your dog to retrieve gloves, articles, or a target on the ground with the same drive and intensity.

  • Hold your dog’s collar and leash in your hand.
  • Excite your dog as you place the treat or toy a short distance in front of him.
  • Step back next to your dog, say energetically something like “Ready, Ready, Get it!”, and immediately release your dog to get the treat or toy.
  • As soon as your dog has reached for the treat or toy, motivate him verbally and with your motion to quickly return to you.
  • When he is about two feet from you, stop your movement, present another treat/toy in your left or right hand, and tell him to “Get it!”
  • Use a lot of reward and games when your dog gets back to you.
  • Make it FUN!

Level 4 – Mix it up to continue to build intensity and focus

Continue to build your dog’s intensity and focus by varying the ways you practice the “Get it Game”. Also mix in using your verbal recall and not calling at all. In the long run, you want your dog turning tight and driving towards you to become a habit.

  • Vary the amount of distraction and the location.
  • Vary how far the treat or toy is from your dog.
  • Vary how long your dog waits before he is released to the treat or toy, and whether the treat is tossed or placed.
  • Practice with your leash, flexi or long line on your dog.
  • In a safe environment, practice with your leash off and really encourage your dog to return to you at maximum speed by quickly running away!
  • Wean off the use of your verbal command for your dog to come back to you.
  • Use a lot of reward and games when your dog gets back to you.
  • Make it FUN!

Once your dog is proficient with the “Get it Game”, you will find it is an outstanding training tool with a wide variety of applications for a multitude of venues!

Have fun playing the Get it Game with your dog!