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Training tip from Cris Mazza


I have been training for obedience for over 35 years and have multiple OTCHs … in so doing, I’ve learned that a common mistake many exhibitors make is to try to train all of the facets of an exercise simultaneously. Yes, a dog can earn legs with exercises taught this way, but many problems can be avoided, and the performance can be sharper, more confident, if exercises are (a) broken down into the smallest possible parts and taught separately, and (b) an adequate amount of time is spent keeping the parts separate and only gradually progressing to greater distances and combined actions.


With that in mind, these videos show the first introduction of teaching the directed retrieve and then a “finished” version of the same dog.


The video sound may not be clear and there was no one running the camera to show close-ups of hand position, etc., so a few notes:


I’ve heard people say “my dog won’t look at the glove when I point to it.” (That’s the “direct” in “directed retrieve”). That’s because you have to teach the dog what “pointing” is. In the first video I am teaching this dog to “mark” (look where I’m pointing). I do this with a food lure. The food is between my middle and ring fingers. When my elbow is bent and my hand is pointing up, the foot keeps the dog’s head up (she’s smelling it). [I am holding her collar with my right hand, by the way. I keep that hand on her collar even when she leaps forward for the food.] When I snap down the mark, I simultaneously drop the food onto the glove, but I keep my arm there, marking. The dog naturally snaps her head down to look at the food now on the glove, but in her brain my arm motion is “chained” to what her head just did.  So, in the second video, when we’ve added the pivot and the actual retrieve, when I put down that mark, her head snaps to look. You’ll also notice this dog’s unique reaction to performance stress. Amazingly that little trick only cost us a point!

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