Retrieving

Scoop and I have been busy busy busy. I drove the RV to Los Angeles last weekend to teach a seminar for Wendy Vogelgesang and of course took Scoop and Ace with me. I am not really wild about the driving part of owning an RV, and being away from home for 4 or 5 days to teach a three day seminar, but I love having my dogs with me while I am teaching. I like to have a dog to demonstrate exercises or handling techniques, and always feel a bit handicapped if I don’t. That is a really good part of traveling withyour dogs to teach. And I love the hang out relaxing time before and after the seminar with dogs and friends. It has been great for my dogs. Instead of rushing off to a hotel room after a show or seminar day is done, the dogs can hang out, exercise, get trained, meet new people, and I can really take the time to introduce the new and different environment to my puppy. I just never realized that great aspect of having an RV.

The first morning before the seminar I was up early and walking the dogs at 6 AM. Scoop was on leash and Ace was loose. We walked down the street of a gated community with private drives. No chance of meeting any cars, but apparently lots of chance of meeting coyotes in this beautiful rural setting. As I turned to head back to the RV after a short walk, we came face to face with a huge coyote who essentially blocked the road by sitting in the middle of it staring at us from about 50 feet away. My dogs did not even bark, just looked at him with curiosity. Rather exciting, something intimidating, definitely not on my list of critters that I wanted Scoop to meet on this trip. I called Ace in and made him share the opposite end of the leash with Scoop and then after a few minutes staring contest with Mr. Coyote I decided to just move forward with intent  to see if he would scare off. He let us approach a short distance and then sauntered away in hunt of breakfast. Just glad we were not part of the menu.

Scoops breeder Stephanie Spyr was at the seminar and we let our pups have some fun romps and we did some training together as well. Stephanie suggested testing our retrieves on the pups by sending them for their toys side by side at the same time. This could have been a small disaster but as it turned out it was fun and I am still a bit surprised Scoop could do it. Steph sent her pup for a toy and after Keeper picked up her toy and turned back to Steph, I threw my toy and sent Scoop. Voila! They passed each other like little flyball dogs, what fun. Then we tried back to back retrieves. Steph and I had our back to each other and threw the opposite direction at the same time. They would be running towards each other and us on the return, no colisions, just solid retrieves and they ignored each other totally. Steph and I have both worked hard on our retrieves. We have straight line fast sends to toys, clean pickups withthe pups grabbing a toy and turning immediately back to us and pretty much deliver the toy to our hands. I worked each part of those skills with Scoop, and while I think he has natural ability and desire to retrieve, the shape of the retrieve has been taught and encouraged.

Scoop’s retrieve started with just throwing the toy and letting him run for it at the same time I tossed it. (read about it on my May 20thblog) I sat on the floor and encouraged him back by patting the floor or my leg to get him to return to me. That changed into me holding onto his collar, throwing the toy, waiting for it to land, and if he was looking forward to the toy, I would send him with the command “get it”. This worked well on short retrieves in the house with me on the floor. Once I went outside and was standing up I wasn’t getting as much speed back to me on the retrieve.   I added a second toy to the game. It all goes like this: I am standing up, I have his collar in hand, I throw the toy at least 25 feet, I say “get it” and release him to the toy. I take a step forward with him as I release him and sometimes I run with him  towards the toy. As he does the pickup, he spins to me, I call his name then take a couple running steps backwards, (facing him) and just as he is getting close to me I dangle a tug toy on the ground in front of me. He drops his toy and grabs the tug and we have a short tug game. Then I put him on my opposite side and started over again. You can see Scoop in action in the photos below. These were from a few weeks ago, he is much bigger now:)

Some of the retrieving basics are:

  • Move towards the toy or at least take one step and “bowl” Scoop towards the toy.
  • I don’t release and send Scoop unless he is looking forward at the toy.
  • I move backwards away from him after the pickup and encourage him to return fast and straight.
  • I have faded out the need for a second toy by just holding out my hand and encouraging him to come to it. I would like him to have the attitude that he should push the toy at me and ask me to engage more in retrieving or tugging with him.

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Enough talking about retrieving. Scoop has been patiently waiting all morning for me to finish teaching and writing, it is his turn now to have my attention.

I hope to write more about Scoop this weekend, maybe I will get brave and measure him again. He was19+ inches tall last weekend and not quite 5 months old. I am still praying he will stop growing soon! I hope you have as much fun this weekend with your pup as I am planning on having with mine!

NJG

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