Beginning Retrieves

First, a bit of unrelated-to-training stuff…Chispa made it up on to the furniture this week, and so now there is no high ground left that is safe for the grown up dogs. She's spending quite a bit of time loose at the moment, and some of it is even only half supervised; I've been spending time working on my laptop in the great room, instead of in the office, and so she's been allowed to wander around the room loose. To my pleasant surprise, she actually manages to be STILL periodically, particularly when there's rawhide involved. So, it looks like she's on her way to joining the rest of the pack at being skilled at being a couch pillow when there's nothing going on.

There are fewer safe places for the grown up dogs now...

There are fewer safe places for the grown up dogs now…

Beginning Retrieves

I'm going to be honest, none of my dogs are spectacular retrievers. They'll bring the toy back, with repeated prompting from me, and there's often a lot of playing with the toy, and sometimes a few victory laps, as the toy comes back in my direction. I don't mind this, and in fact I find it pretty entertaining, particularly when they've done something I am really pleased with during training and they seem to just need to celebrate themselves a little bit longer than usual. They'll bring the toy back eventually…usually…and if I'm unsure about my chances of getting the toy back, I usually just won't ASK for it to come back, until I know I've got better odds. Or, I'll get another toy that's nearby to continue the game, whatever the game happens to be.

Some dogs are born retrieving, and some dogs just seem to be ballcrazy, too. Mine are, on the whole, blessedly NOT obsessed with such things, and as I have a whole pack of border collies, it's always seemed wise to me to not throw toys in a pack situation in any case. Sure, I'll kick a jolly ball around in the yard, and definitely, when the dogs are coming IN to me, I'll toss a toy so they can neatly catch it. But, I'm pretty careful with toy play in a group situation AND when training. I just don't like seeing my dogs crash willy nilly in to the ground in their efforts to grab a moving object. That's not to say my dogs aren't having fun – I'm just careful to help them maintain a sense of self preservation, as much as I can be. And, right from the start, it seemed to me that teaching a dog to run AWAY from me might be contrary to moving WITH me, as is required in agility (at least as long as I'm still moving around the course…I'll reevaluate when I get to the point where I CAN'T move so much…). Anyway…

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