Can I just say how proud I am of my awesome dog??!!!??
As you know, faithful readers, we have been struggling with the dumbbell for quite some time. I wanted so badly to keep this a motivational exercise (as opposed to forced, which DOES work for some people, and I am using in some parts of protection), knowing that it would take us longer to teach it this way. And it did. It's taken probably close to 9 or 10 months to get to this point.
At practice this past weekend, Kane did retrieve on the flat, retrieve over the jump and retrieve over the A-Frame. All with the dumbell. :-)
Now, we've not perfected it yet, but 90% of the work is done. I have to learn to throw the dumbbell (learn how it flies through the air to make it go where I want it to go), we need to up the level on the jump to get it to competition height (one board away), and the A-frame needs to slowly be brought up to the correct height (which is 6ft, I think). Right now, we're at about 4 ft. As far as the 9-10 months go, I'm also not a consistent trainer. I try to work with Kane every day, but sometimes I'm just bone tired after a long day at work, or we do something else etc. So the same method could have worked quicker for someone who has more time.
On the advice of my friend Julie, we started doing "hold" dumbell exercises at every mealtime. In the beginning, Kane would take it from my hand and hold it. He chewed a lot at first, not liking how it felt in his mouth. Then we would progress to taking it from me at different heights and positions (up, down, left, right), adding more difficulty to the "hold" part (to where I could lean back and he wouldn't let go). If he let go, or did not pick up, we would calmly start over again. He could see his food bowl with all that yummy chicken waiting for him during all this. Boy, did he whine!
Finally we got to where he would take it from me, sit where he was while I moved backward, and on command he would bring it to me and hold it. Then he would let go when I said "out."
Julie also recommended I play little keep-away games with him. I would get the dumbbell out and walk around talking to it, throwing it up in the air, and all in all, acting like I had this great toy that he couldn't play with. Then I would throw it and race him to it. If I got to it first, I played with it for a few minutes, and if he got it, he got to keep it for a few minutes before I would run backwards giving a recall command. Worked like a charm. My boy is a jealous player, always wanting to have the best toy....
The last piece of the puzzle was to do some attraction play with the dumbbell while Kane was on leash being restrained by someone else. I would stand just out of reach while running back and forth moving the dumbbell around asking Kane if he wants to play. Then I would throw the dumbbell and say "Bring" while it was still bouncing and the person helping me would let go. Kane loves to chase anything that moves, so this was a good way to have him shoot like a rocket after that dumbbell. Thanks for the tip, Richard!
I'm hoping it may be a bit warmer next weekend, and if so, I'll try to shoot some video of the retrieves.
Richard says we're on our way to some high scores, and since he claims he reads my blog, I'm going to hold him to that! At least in obedience! lol.
Thanks to Julie for the awesome photography! :-)