Training Equipment and Signals (p3)
Yes puppies can learn to hold one and even retrieve. Sit facing your puppy with them in a sit as well. Gather a handful of tiny treats in your right palm and use your thumb and index finger to hold the dumbbell’s bell. Place your left hand through your dogs buckle collar with just your last three fingers and use the index finger to brace on the back of the dogs head. Use your left thumb and insert it into the right corner of your dog’s mouth so that it pry’s open a bit. Carefully place the dumbbell in their mouth trying not to bang their teeth and say, “take it”.
Immediately remove the dumbbell, they most likely will have spit it out anyway and say “give” then let them have the treat in your right palm. Repeat this over and over for weeks until you can keep the dumbbell in their mouth for a few seconds. Next while the dumbbell is in their mouth use your index finger and thumb of the right hand and gently squeeze the bridge and lower muzzle saying “hold” and remove quickly and treat. Gradually ask for a longer hold but always say, “give” when it comes out. Once they are doing this at a sit now try a stand. You may have to go back a few steps, as this now is a new picture for them. Once they can stand with a hold now try walking a few steps, which is like the saying “Can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”…but they soon do.
Intersperse this controlled training with play of the dumbbell. Rev up your dog, throw the dumbbell, let them get it and play some more but nothing formal or too demanding. If they don’t pick up the dumbbell by the bar, no worries, that will come in time. Also if they don’t pick up the dumbbell at all, run after it yourself and act like you have the best treasure ever. They will soon want it too. Hold them back by the collar as you throw it to build drive. Remember these are puppies and we want them to have fun, so no precision is required right now.
For advanced training of the pickup of the dumbbell place it inside the PVC box to either the left or right side near the top bar, depending on which direction they turn to return. This box will make for a tight pivot while returning. Place the dumbbell under a chair or up against a wall or broad jump so they can’t go behind it to retrieve.
Have puppy sit in heel position. Place a big treat that is an opposite color of the ground you are working on in your left hand. With your hand near the pups face throw out the treat a few feet and tell pup to “fetch”. Do this over and over until they are really looking for the moving treat. Then hold them by the collar with the right hand, throw out the treat in the left hand near their face, and say, “mark”, wait for it to stop rolling then tell pup to “fetch”. This is the start of the directed retrieve picture a dog will see and hear with your left hand pointing to where they need to retrieve. You can then replace the treat for a toy using the same procedure. Then teach them to tug with the glove as if it were a toy and use the glove in this same manner. Once they can retrieve a single glove or toy place another one about ten feet away. Send them to one without them going for the alternate one. Then add three gloves or toys then four etc. and each time they should just go for the one they are directed towards. As they get proficient begin placing them closer together for added distraction. Make a circle of gloves or toys and alternate which one to retrieve. You can place the glove inside the PVC box so their turn is tight and quick. Always teach the turn and sit separately from the directed retrieve.
Start with a raised block of wood, ceramic bowl or brick, heavy enough to not fall over. Teach the puppy to place just their front feet on the item luring with a treat. Name the behavior; I used “feet” as this may transfer to lining up in heel position with a cue to get their feet together for a nice neat sit. Take them off the block and start again. Once they have grasped this idea stand facing them but parallel and moving into their bodies to make them rotate, a step at a time while holding the treat with the head side hand at their muzzle. Do this on both sides using “out” for clockwise and “in” for counter clockwise directions. Gradually bring the treat up higher so their bodies have to reach and look up for the treat and it becomes more like being in heel position. Also start to rotate your body as well to get into a more precise heel position. Once they have mastered this you can start to add this movement to your left and right heeling turns and later pivots in place. But in the meantime it is a great trick to demo to all your friends.
See what fun you can have with your puppies? Who says they have to be older to learn, bah!
POOCHABILITY MERCHANDISE & DOG TRAINING PRODUCTS
When using any training device or toy, please be aware of dogs nature to grab, chew and swallow any item in your possession. See Home Page, Training Info, How to use the training equipment, page 4 and 5, Attention Heeling with the Training Aid for instructional use.