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Retrieve Games

Posted on 08/25/09 13 Comments

Okay my intention was to do a quick video and post this little clip with the rest of my exercise thoughts today. However, even though I have a ton of stuff to do, I got carried away with the editing and the entire project took longer than I intended. However, I do like tinkering with videos. So here you have it.

What I would like you to see is that within my dogs’ training session, regardless of how long or short, there is the big picture, but the big picture is always comprised of many little pictures (or training objectives).


What I am saying is that you can have a mindless game of retrieve with your dog or you can create smaller games within the game of retrieve. This will allow you to build the skills that; can give you a great start line stay, teach your dog to be responsive to your cues–even in drive, make sure your dog always powers back to you (even if you are standing still) and maintain any criteria you decide to lay out for the dog.

I require my dogs to drive hard DIRECTLY back to me. I am not going to punish them if they are a bit slower, or take a less direct path back one time, however, I am not going to give that attempt the same reinforcement that a great effort would earn. 

It is about the game within the game. Always.  I will get to describing my dog’s exercise program for you, but thought this was worth mentioning first.

Today I am grateful to get an answer to DeCaff’s strange behaviour the past few months. Hypothyroidism. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier, Stoni had the same issues and the same diagnosis. Hopefully she will respond as well as Stoni did and be back to her old self soon.


  1. Tony says:
    Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 9:45am

    Susan, love the retrieve game. How did you teach Feature to stop just before the Frisbee?


  2. Jen says:
    Friday, August 28, 2009 at 10:15am

    Susan do you have any suggestions on a shaping game for retrieve? 2 out of my 4 dogs don’t retrieve. They will chase the toy, sometimes pick it up and sometimes bring it back. when they bring it back they always toss it to me or drop it but there is no criteria on my part and I’m not sure how to set the criteria when I can’t get them to bring it back consistantly? I’m sure it is something simple but I just can’t seem to get it to work. My other dogs just did it from day one and I added criteria to the game.


  3. Laurie Graichen says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12:26pm

    I am SOOO enjoying your blog, thank you so much for sharing. No real retrieve questions (others have asked them already) but I am wondering what video editing program you are using to do graphics, text overlays, slo-mo, etc.


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12:29pm

      Hi Laurie, glad you are enjoying your time at the blog. I am an Apple girl so all of my editing is done on my MAC and no I am not an expert. . . iMovie makes everything so darn easy it makes anyone look like a pro.


  4. Debbie says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 10:43am

    Hi Susan:

    Thanks for captioning the video showing your retrieve games. I really appreciated it!


  5. Trish says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 11:46pm

    Thanks for the video Susan

    Could you explain please how you went about getting the retrieve and handing to you? I’m working this with my pup right now and he’ll bring back, but not the way I’d like and really drives back only when I have another toy in my hand for him. Getting him to give it to my hand is another challenge.

    Thanks for any tips!


  6. Nancy says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 7:31pm

    Great video…I like those obedience games with in:-)

    I don’t guess you could time the returns, but mostly every time your dog turned left, it was a bit slower???..or seemed that way. 80% of his turns were right handed. (on the published video)

    Would you want to try to mix that up in a retrieve game…

    Is there any value to sending from the other side of your body?


    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 9:27pm

      Good point Nancy, yes I do retrieves on both sides although my older dogs will only turn one way (I made a point with Feature to have her always turn towards me).


  7. Beth says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 6:58pm

    Hi Susan,
    Great video! Your getting really good at it. I loved the use of games with in the games, because it really had nothing to do with agility. (but like you said it will help our startline)
    We also send some big hugs and licks to DeCaff.
    “Great fountain in the pond”


  8. Heather Sather says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 2:35pm

    If she did not sit quickly what would you have done?


  9. Andrea says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:19am

    Great vid Susan! I get totally caught up in iMovie too…

    These small games added in are a brilliant idea. We’ll try those retrieve ideas with Lilli this week. We implemented something like this with her teeter to increase her speed and contacts – gave her a frisbee throw after a release if her performance was faster and better than the last time or as you say…average or better.

    See you next week! Thanks for the great ideas!


  10. Jan V says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 7:48am

    Thanks for the demo, and Godspeed to DeCaff for a quick recovery on this journey.


  11. Carol says:
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 7:43am


    Thanks so much for this video; it gets down to the specific details I seem to have so much trouble ‘getting’!



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