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Generalizing the Retrieve

The retrieve is my favorite thing to teach dogs. It means I can have them carry things for me, pick up stuff that I drop and take really cute pictures with them holding props.

We teach this initially with a dumbbell, but to make it truly useful, they need to practice picking up different sized, shaped, textured and weighted objects.

Argos demonstrates how practical the retrieve can be by learning to put laundry into the laundry basket.

Zach and Bourbon are working on just that! Starting with “easy” objects, I place each item in their mouth and tell them to hold. Then I have them fetch the object from a couple inches away, and repeat until they can pick the object up from the ground without help. Since they have each had lots of retrieve training with the dumbbell prior to this step in their training, this process only takes a minute or two.


Once they have mastered these easy objects, we make the objects bigger, heavier, harder to hold, harder to pick up, etc… until they can handle anything. I can’t wait!

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