Retrieving over the climbing wall

 

Because of the size and dimensions of the climbing wall, it is a little more difficult to ensure that all goes well on the first few retrieves. This is one reason that we come to the retrieve over the wall last.

We prefer not to put the wall down at a low height and then walk the dog through the exercise with the leash the first few times (as is the most common practice). In our experience the handler causes more problems doing this than he prevents, simply because he gets in his dog’s way.

Instead, the handler puts the wall at a medium height, throws the dumbbell out over it and then sends his dog free. But while the animal is running the retrieve the handler scuttles forward and jumps to the top of the wall. When the dog picks up the dumbbell and turns, the first thing it sees is its handler at the top of the wall. The handler calls to it and slaps the wall with his hand. When he sees the animal start for the obstacle, the handler jumps off and runs backward. The dog follows him up and over the wall, and then comes‑fore and delivers the dumbbell to him.

 

GOAL 3: The dog will run away from its handler as fast as it can and in a straight line until it is commanded to lie down.

 

In our opinion, the send away is the most difficult of the Schutzhund obedience exercises to teach. In all the other exercises, the dog orients toward its master, looking to him, listening to him, moving with him or moving at him. In the send away the animal must do something entirely different. It must orient completely away from its handler and run out fast and straight until it hears the “Down!” command. Experienced trainers know how hard this is to teach to the average dog.

Of course, here we are not talking about what we call “home‑field” send aways. Like all other Schutzhund competitors, we have shown our dogs often on their home field where we trained them. When time was short before a home‑field trial we have, like everyone else, faked the send away. This is easily done by simply teaching the dog to go to a place, usually at one end of the field by the fence, where it will always find food or the ball. The only day on which it does not find the reward is on trial day.

A fake send away is extremely easy to teach. But, of course, the dog will only do it on its home field, and only toward the spot by the fence where it is accustomed to finding the reward. Both of the authors have experienced the consternation of putting together a fake send away during the week before our dog’s first Schutzhund I appearance, using a spot at the east end of the field, and then having the judge decide that the send aways would instead be run west on trial day!

A true send away is another matter entirely. The trainer can take his dog to any field, point it in a direction, send it, and the dog will go out fast and straight. The animal is not going to anything. Rather, it is going away from its handler.

After a lifetime of being taught to look to the handler and move toward him always, this concept can be very difficult for the dog to learn.

Our method of teaching the send away depends upon the animal’s desire to retrieve, and it is based upon the techniques that field‑trial and bird‑dog trainers use to train their hunting dogs. In retriever training, the send away is the fundamental skill upon which a great deal of the other work is based, and field‑trial trainers routinely teach fast and straight send aways of up to 300 yards over broken ground.

In Schutzhund, we are doing wonderfully if our dog goes out sixty‑five or seventy paces on a flat, level field. (The rules for Schutzhund III require only forty paces, but if our dog has a good send away we will let it go much farther before giving the “Down!” command. Always give the judge a good look at anything that the dog does well!)

Success in the send away depends upon patience, good methods and plenty of time. We allow at least several months of work to teach this exercise.

 

Important Concepts for Meeting the Goal

1. Placed retrieves

2. Multiple placed retrieves

3. Generalizing the placed retrieve to other locations

4. Teaching the dog to lie down instantly at the end of the send away

 








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