Teaching Your Dog to Retrieve
The retrieve command can be a very useful command to teach your dog. It can also help the two of you to create a bond. So just what are the best ways to go about teaching your dog to retrieve?
The Best Way to Teach the Retrieve Command
As with all training, teaching the 'retrieve' command should be done in small steps. Dogs, especially young ones, tend to have a short attention span at the beginning of their training, which means that it is important to keep it fun and short to start with. So, first start with something light and easy to carry such as a light dumbbell.
All dogs are different, so they may not always bring things back the first time that you throw them. But the retrieve command can usually be learned quite quickly. Your main training tool is your voice and you will need to make it exciting and enticing so that the dog does bring the dumbbell back to you. So keep your voice high and excited and you should be fine.
Before you actually throw the dumbbell, it would be easier for you to teach the dog to pick it up. So offer the dumbbell to the dog while talking to him and as soon as he does take it away from you, praise him and tell him he's a 'Good Dog'. Make plenty of fuss over him so he knows that he did the right thing. It is always better to repeat the exercise a couple of times to be sure that he learns as quickly as possible. However, keep it to three times maximum before ending the training session.
If your dog does not seem to be taking the dumbbell, then try not to get frustrated with him. Dogs generally do not respond well to anger and you will make your dog afraid to train if you constantly get annoyed with him. So keep things happy and do not reprimand him for not doing something.
For the next part of the retrieve training, it is easier to keep your dog on a leash in the beginning. Now place the dumbbell in front of your dog's mouth and encourage him to take the dumbbell. Tell the dog to 'Hold' the dumbbell and stroke the dog's nose in an upward motion so that you are stroking away from the nose, not towards it. As you are doing this, also stroke under the dog's chin with your other hand.
The stroking is supposed to help to keep the dumbbell in the dog's mouth and, in the beginning, it is better to only keep the dumbbell in the dog's mouth for a few seconds just to get him used to it. For the most part, you should not have a problem with your dog taking the dumbbell from you, but sometimes you may have to gently force the dog to keep hold of the dumbbell by keeping his jaws closed together. However, never do it too forcefully and do not allow the dumbbell to knock the dog's teeth.
Finally, the dog should be able to take the dumbbell by himself. Once he has learned to take the dumbbell, you can then teach him to pick it up after you have thrown it for him. Do the training in a quiet area and throw the dumbbell away from the dog. He should run and pick it up and as soon as he does, praise him excitedly and get him to bring it to you. It will take some time, but you will get there. Just be patient and never reprimand your dog for not doing it properly. All dogs are different and it may take you some time to teach the retrieve command, but always persevere and you will get there in the end.
Article by Kelly Marshall of Oh My Dog Supplies