Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Forward

Daylight savings time begins today. The vernal equinox is right around the corner. We still have a foot and a half of snow on the ground here at Aquinna, but the longer daylight in the evening, brings more opportunity to train outdoors. Just wanted to share one of our indoor, winter training drills that works great at keeping our goldens primed for Spring.
Find the biggest room in your house. We have a 56 ft. long space that runs from the great room to the kitchen. Gather together the following: 1 or 2 bumpers, pheasant wings, a dumbbell & a thick winter glove. You will also need a clicker and a plastic container of sliced hot dogs or Jones Braunschweiger. If you have more than one dog, you will put the other dogs in a down-stay while you work the first one. Have the dog set up in heel position and give the stay/wait command. Start with the dumbbell and walk as far away as you can. Place the dumbbell on the floor. Walk back to the dog and return to heel position. Wait 5 seconds or so and then send your dog to retrieve it. When he returns, click and treat. You won’t be throwing any of the objects. Instead, you can hide them or move them to different parts of the room. Keep it fun! Repeat the exercise with all of the objects. Rotate the dogs from honor position to working dog.
Your goal should be to reinforce good manners- try adding more distractions as your dog improves. You also want to make sure that your dog understands that he cannot return to you unless he has found the object and then must deliver it to hand.
The next session, try using a large wooden spoon or a Dokken dead fowl dummy as one of the objects. Be creative! By the end of the winter, your dog should be able retrieve just about anything.