How To Fix Problems With The “Fetch” or “Bring” Command

“I have a chocolate Labrador Retriever (very active) that is being trained (in OPEN class now) and he seems to be regressing since we  are working on retrieving.  He retrieves very well with the dumbbell, etc., but other dogs in the class do not.  And they bring toys for their retrieval work.

My problem is that my dog is just “overcome” with these toys and isn’t paying close attention to me.  He goes after THEIR toy many times instead of HIS dumbbell.  He knows the command “look” or WATCH ME” but serious corrections don’t even deter his disobedience on this toy-retrieval.

HELP!  How should I handle this?

Thank you!
Mary ”

Dear Mary:

These are the type of questions that I like.  They’re interesting.

First, make absolute 100% sure that your dog DOES understand the “Bring” or “Fetch” command.  Assuming that he does, here’s the next step:

Recognize that the problem you’re having is one of disrespect.  The reason that your dog goes for his neighbor’s toy AFTER you’ve clearly commanded him to BRING his dumbbell is that he CARES LESS about what you want.  As the dog goes into ‘play/prey’ drive, his sensitivity to your corrections goes WAY DOWN.  In other words, you’re giving him a $2 ticket and he needs a $200 ticket.

Here’s the easiest way to communicate to your dog (with this exercise) that you are serious:

Buy a remote electronic training collar.  I recommend Innotek or Dogtra.

Here’s how to use it to fix your dog problem:

Follow the directions on matching the e-collar (remote electronic training collar) to your dog’s temperament.

Next, place a dumbbell on the opposite side of the room–straight in front of the dog– and also place a distraction toy… off to the right.

Send the dog to retrieve the dumbbell.  Let him wear a long line, also.

As he starts to veer to the right to go after the toy, say, “No!” in a loud, forceful tone and then immediately stimulate him with the e-collar.  Re-issue the “Bring” or “Fetch” command and use the long line to redirect him back on course, as he may be confused.  When the dog starts to go toward the dumbbell again, immediately begin loud verbal praise, “Good dog, Good dog.”

There you go.  Now just repeat this same exercise by altering the training location and the type of distractions.  After a few times you’ll be able to eliminate the long line.  And after a few set-ups, the problem will be fixed.