by Deborah Jones, Ph.D. Copyright, 2001

Foundation games

2 treats/toys
Get the mouse!
Treat retrieves
Tennis glove
Tug & out
Motivated fetch (hold back)
Retrieve race (w/trainer)
Run away retrieves (hurry back)

Trained, rather than play retrieve. All dogs proceed at different rates. However, the basic steps and techniques are the same.


I. With dumbbell in your hand, close to you

1. Look at dumbbell
2. Move towards dumbbell
3. Sniff dumbbell
4. Touch w/nose
5. Touch with mouth/teeth
6. Put mouth over bar
7. Close mouth over bar
8. Hold in closed mouth
9. Increase hold duration

II. With dumbbell placed on floor within 3 ft. of you

10. Look at dumbbell
11. Move towards dumbbell
12. Sniff the dumbbell
13. Touch w/ nose
14. Touch w/mouth/teeth
15. Put mouth over bar
16. Close mouth over bar
17. Pick up off of floor
18. Increase vertical distance off floor
19. Turn towards trainer w/dumbbell in mouth
20. Move one step towards trainer
21. Increase number of steps towards trainer
22. Bring dumbbell to trainer

III. Adding distance

23. Toss dumbbell. CT for pick-up
24. CT later & later on return
25. CT when dog reaches handler
26. Increase toss distance
27. Yo-yo distances

IV. Adding precision

28. Sit in front & hold
29. Add duration to hold in front
30. Sit in front & out
31. Add distance to return to front & hold

V. Adding requirements

Retrieve over jump
Proof for send anticipation (stimulus control)
Proof for distractions

Solutions for common problems:

Playing with the object, including keep away: 2 treats/toys, trade, on leash work. Shorter, calmer retrieves. Place object rather than throw it.

Mouthing: size & type of retrieve object. Position of head.

Anticipation: NEVER CORRECT, just don’t reinforce. Reinforce the stay instead.

Fun & useful retrieves

Carry / Bring
Put toys away
Scent work


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