Sunday, December 18, 2005

Leather and Metal (It's not what you think)

I was able to get Wyatt to retrieve a metal dumbbell. [These are used in the utility level of competitive obedience for scent discrimination where the dog finds the dumbbell with the handler's scent on it.] At first, he would go over and touch it with his nose and look up for a treat. It looked like he thought it was a target rather than a retrieve item. I wrapped a little vet wrap around the shaft and asked him to "Take" from my hand like we sometimes do with the plastic dumbbell and he went for it. He then retrieved it over the jump just like the plastic dumbbell. He does the leather dumbbell fine but tends to play/chew it more.

Since he likes jumping so much, I practice a lot with the jump. My strategy has been to do some fun retrieves over the jump with the plastic dumbbell and quickly switch the leather or metal items. That seems to be working. At first he was going over the dog couch to chew on his leather treat but he seems to be getting the idea that I am looking for the same behavior as the plastic.

I suppose a more traditional approach with the metal would have been to do a forced retrieve with an ear pinch! He is so sensitive, that probably would have been the end of retrieving. I accidentally stepped on his toe once while tugging and he would not tug with me for 6 months!

I guess it looks nice to not mouth or chew or pounce on retrieve items but they are dogs after all! That is not my favorite rule in traditional obedience.

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