Generalizing the placed retrieve to other locations


Of course, if we took the dog to another training field and tried to run a cold‑placed retrieve, it wouldn’t go out. The dog’s understanding of the send away (and its conviction that it will find a ball out in the field) is specific to a certain location. The dog is still running to something–a spot on a particular field with which it is acquainted. In order to get the dog to take a line and run away from its handler (and go even though it has never found a ball out where we are sending it), we must generalize the exercise to other fields.

The handler begins almost at square one in another location. He establishes a target spot there by doing quite a few short placed retrieves until he is absolutely sure that the dog knows exactly where it is going. Then he works his way back until the animal is running multiple placed retrieves at long distance in this new location.

Then the handler takes his dog to a third field and starts again. This time, however, he can work through the progression a little more quickly because the dog is becoming more sure of its work and more bound by habit.

By the time the handler has taught his dog four or five target spots in four or five different locations (parks and empty lots will do just fine, there is no need for five dog training fields), it will take him just one session to show the animal another target spot in a new location and get it running full‑length multiple placed retrieves to it.

At this point, the handler tries something new. He goes back to a location where the dog has already learned the send away, to a target spot that the animal knows but has not visited in a while. He places several balls, but without letting the dog see him do it, and then sends it (completely “cold,” right out of the car) a rather long distance to the target spot. If the animal runs hard and true on the first retrieve (the first one is the hard one), then we are ready for the most difficult step yet.

The handler now takes his dog to a field where the animal has never worked before. He places several balls in a spot, but does not let the dog see him do it. He brings the animal out, gives it the line to the target spot with his hand, and sends it.

The handler can take two precautions in order to make sure that the dog will run straight and true to the line, and come down right on top of the target spot:

1. He runs a heeling pattern up and down the field on the same axis as the send away. Later this practice will stand him in good stead, because in a trial the send aways always run along the same axis as the heeling patterns. The dog will soon make this association and, in competition, the direction of the heeling pattern will help to give it the line.

2. He selects a perfectly flat, level and relatively narrow field, with parallel, fenced sides that will help to establish the line and guide the dog straight down to the target spot.


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