When I had my last puppy class one half of the puppies were (in the beginning of the class) completely uninterested in coming back with any object to their handler. We meet them very often; the dogs who haven’t understood why they should give their handler the funny object that they have in their mouth.
It is of course easier to train a puppy to return to the handler with something that she has retrieved, but in our classes we also meet older dogs that don’t want to give their handlers the objects they have in their mouths, or dogs that almost come all the way back to the handler, but then drops the object only a couple of yards away or lay down and chew on it.
It’s very easy to get a little irritated when things like this happen and you might perhaps start to nag at your dog or try to lure her. But that won’t help. Try this medicine instead:
- Think about how you act in your everyday life! If your dog takes something in your home, what happens then? Do you always take it back? Remove everything that the dog shouldn’t take. If the dog still happens to take something “forbidden” exchange it for a very good reward. Perhaps a piece of meat that you have on your plate or something else that the dog really likes. If the dog happens to come to you with something that she may have taken (even if she shouldn’t have) reward the her as much as possible, then return the object to her again.
Increase your value! If there always is a party going on where you are, the dog wants to be with you. If you are kind to your dog, take care of her, help and support her in situations in which she may need help, train her in a positive way and limit the ability for her to reward herself all the time (by for instance chasing cats, running away and greet other dogs, sniff at all nice smells etc), the dog’s life will orbit around you.
- Play a lot! All the puppies in the class that I recently had, were later either really good at coming back with objects, or at least much better than before, thanks to the “Switching Game”. Teach your dog games that you do together, and give the dog a lot of reinforcement when she takes a couple of steps towards you. Another great game is “Play is Something We Do Together”. Elsa and Diesel will show you how it works here:
”Brain wash” delivery to hand at short distance: Combine all the exercises that I have mentioned above and also teach your dog to be really good at the hand target. Start to train without an object. Your hand should be a magnet that your dog can’t resist. Then train the dog to come to you with an object when she is very close to you, start with an object that isn’t very interesting for her. Reward as if your dog has won the Olympic Games and the World Championships at the same time.
Here you can watch what it was like the first time I trained the hand target with my dog Tassla:
And have patience! It takes time! In the beginning, it may not happen a lot, but one day it will.