Take the first one!

If there are more than one dummy out there in a field Quling gladly picks up one, then changes his mind, and picks up another one. That’s why I have done a lot of exercises to teach him to take one and then deliver that one to me – and not take another one.

The exercise “Take the first one!” is in the book and helps the dog to learn that he should take the first dummy that he sees and hold on to that one – he should never change dummies.

About two minutes in to the film you can see that he might think about taking another dummy and leave the one he has in his mouth, but I just clap my hands a little to remind him that he has to run quickly to me an deliver the dummy. Here is the film:

Quling is a very curious dog and he likes to take a look at everything that surrounds him and see if he can find more interesting things somewhere. Therefore, I have trained him a lot in different environments, and I have also trained him to pick up the first dummy that he sees, and then run straight back to me. In the beginning I put the first dummy quite far away from the other dummies, otherwise he couldn’t resist the temptation to take another one.

Now he doesn’t switch dummies at such a short distance, but he can start doing it again in a difficult environment with a lot of distractions and lots of dummies everywhere. I try to take it step by step so he can learn one thing at a time, at first, I train the distance and then the speed. Quling has a crazy speed. He often runs past the dummy because he has such a high speed, and then he turns sharply and takes it on his way back …

You can see in the film that when the distance is greater, he doesn’t have time to stop where the first dummy is, instead he takes one that is further away. I don’t think that it matters now when the dummies are placed so close to each other, because if they were placed a bit further apart, he would have taken the first one. At this point the most important thing is that he doesn’t switch one dummy for another. Sometimes he takes one and then runs over the other, but it doesn’t look as if he thinks about switching the one that he has in his mouth and take another one instead – that is good.

One way to make this exercise more difficult is to put a dummy that has a higher value for the dog a couple of yards away from the first one – the one that the dog should retrieve. You can find many ways to make this exercise more difficult in the book.

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