WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

HAND (could be called retrieve)

This webpage contains a description of the following -

  • Summary of Hand

  • Hand Starters Level

  • Hand Bronze Level

  • Hand Silver Level

  • Hand Gold Level

  • Hand Platinum level

  • What the Handler learns

  • What the dog learns

 

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

SUMMARY -

The dog learns to retrieve an object over a distance of approximately 50ft (15m). The object can be anything that the dog is comfortable with carrying in his mouth. Dumbells are often used in obedience classes because they are easy for the dog to pick up regardless of how they end up having been "thrown" or placed. We DO NOT THROW items in Dog Games because this could trigger the "chase mode" in dogs.

Commands such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “wait” etc. are not required in this or any other Dog Game.

 

AIMS -

The Hand Game involves a dog running away from the Handler to pick up/retrieve an object and coming back to place it in the Handler's hand. This object to be picked up can be a tennis ball, a toy, a gundog dummy, plastic bottle, in fact anything that the dog enjoys retrieving (see Equipment needed). In the interests of simplicity, the retrieve article will be called a "toy" throughout the Hand section of the website, but please feel free to use any object you wish that the dog will enjoy picking up and probably mouthing.

 

Two people are needed to train and play Hand - the Handler and the Helper/Trainer, who will also be observing and helping. The Helper stands behind the black rubber mat placed in the box area throughout the Game and places the "toy" on the mat just before the dog is due to run. A complete Hand run would be for the dog to be sent by its Handler to pick the toy off a black rubber mat and return to place the toy in the Handler's hands in return for its motivator. The distance between the release of the dog and the car mat is increased with each successful run.

 

In Dog Games training we continually repeat some of the most simple instructions and ideas to instill them in the Handlers so that it becomes second nature to them.

 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED -

  • netted training area

  • comfortable harness and lead

  • treat box or motivator

  • toy

  • black rubber car mat

HAND STARTERS LEVEL

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

The dog may have already been taught how to do this at home which is good news but, nevertheless, let's go through this in a structured way to ensure success and consistency of behaviour by both the dog and the Handler.

 

AIMS - from a restrained recall,

  • the dog learns to RUN AWAY from its Handler

  • to RETRIEVE a "toy" and RETURN it to the Handler

 

STARTERS Certificate 1 -

At Starters 1 level, we are looking for 3 successful runs out of 5 as the dog and the owner "Learn the Game". The dog learns to run away from the Handler, to pick up the "toy" or "ball" or "object" placed on the black rubber car mat and return with it to its handler. Many dogs are used to retrieving balls but others may prefer an old stuffed toy, a ragger, an old slipper etc. I shall call it a toy.

 

First Run

The mat is placed in the box area where it remains and is NOT removed from this location (environmental photo) until the Game finishes. The toy is placed on the mat and the dog (on its lead) is re-introduced to it as its favourite toy. The dog is allowed a little play with this toy which is then removed from the dog and given to the Helper. The Helper stands (with the toy out of sight from the dog) on the opposite side of the mat from the dog, ready to place the toy on the mat when instructed.

 

The Handler takes the dog about 5m away from the mat and turns him to watch the Helper. When the dog is focused on the Helper, the toy is placed on the car mat and the dog is released to retrieve the toy and carry it back to the Handler. The Helper does not interact with the dog, only the Handler and the Trainer.

 

The dog is rewarded for a successful retrieve by being given a treat or a "little" play with the toy and then put back on the lead. The Helper walks calmly to take the toy from the Handler or Trainer. The toy is NOT thrown to the Helper. The success or otherwise of this retrieve is discussed. Was the dog successful, if not how do we make it a success? How the dog was tugging to get to the toy; how cleanly did the dog pick up the toy; did the Trainer ensure that the dog wasn't distracted by the presence of Helper? Was the distance run by the dog ok or was the process taking too long and overfacing/ over-stressing the dog?

 

Second & Subsequent Runs

The Handler takes the dog about 10m away from the mat and the Helper places the toy on the mat. Again, the dog is released to retrieve the toy and carry it back to the Handler. The dog is rewarded for a successful retrieve by being given a treat or a "little" play with the toy and put back on the lead. The Helper walks away from the mat to take the toy from the Handler or Trainer. Again, they discuss the success or otherwise of this part of the exercise.

 

The distance is increased to the full 15m while ensuring that the dog is capable of doing this exercise. This exercise can be a big mental push for many dogs, so feel free to take a break and take your time as you want the dog to be succeed.

 

Having done 3 runs at the full distance, the Aims of Hand Starters Certificate 1 have been achieved, the Game finishes. The dog should be rewarded, given a drink and placed back in the car so that the lessons learnt will slowly sink deeper into his brain and memory (Latent Learning/Memory). Having completed 3 out of 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler has achieved Hand Starters Certificate 1.

 

STARTERS Certificate 2

The mat is placed in the box area where it remains and is NOT removed from this location (environmental photo) until the Game finishes. The toy is placed on the mat and the dog (on its lead) is re-introduced to it as its favourite toy. The dog is allowed a little play with the toy which is then removed from the dog and given to the Helper. The Helper stands (with the toy out of sight from the dog) on the opposite side of the mat from the dog, ready to place the toy on the mat when instructed.

 

The dog is lead away from the mat until they are some distance, say, about half way down the Lane. The toy is placed on the mat and the dog released. The dog should retrieve the toy back to the Handler. This is just a small reminder as it will have been some time since the dog achieved Starters Certificate 1, just checking that the dog remembers what to do. Likely as not, there shouldn't be a problem.

 

The toy is returned (NOT thrown) to the Helper and the dog is taken to now run the maximum distance from the Handler to the mat, pick up the toy and return with it to the Handler for its reward.

 

Having completed 3 out of 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Owner has achieved Hand Starters Certificate 2. Having achieved Hand Starters Certificates 1 and 2, the Owner has achieved Hand Starters and would have been awarded a 3-tiered rosette - pale green outer, yellow middle and white inner rosette.

 

If there are any lessons for the Trainer to learn and pass on to the other Trainers about this dog/relationship, the dog's training record is where this should be recorded.

 

HAND BRONZE LEVEL

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

AIMS - from a restrained recall,

  • the dog learns to RUN AWAY from its Handler

  • to RETRIEVE a "toy" and RETURN it to the Handler

  • and CONSISTENTLY over a distance

 

BRONZE Certificate 1

With no other dogs around and also in the same Lane and running in the same direction towards the gate end, the same procedure is followed as above. Having completed these 5 runs, the Game is finished and the dog is rewarded and calmly walked back to the car to rest so that the lessons learnt will slowly sink deeper into his brain and memory (Latent Learning). The Handler has achieved Hand Bronze Level 1 Certificate.

 

BRONZE Certificate 2

At the next session, again with no other dogs around and also in the same Lane, BUT RUNNING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION towards the closed end, the same procedure is followed.

Having completed 5 successful runs, the Game is finished and the dog is rewarded and walked back to the car and the Handler has achieved Hand Bronze Certificate 2. BECAUSE of the change in direction, the dog may struggle initially. This may well be caused by the "scent geography" of the Lane.

 

BRONZE Certificate 3

Again with no other dogs around and also in the same Lane, BUT AGAIN REVERSE DIRECTION BACK TO THE ORIGINAL towards the gate end, the same procedure is followed. With the change in direction, again the dog may struggle initially, which may be caused again by the "scent geography" of the Lane.

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the Game is finished and the dog is rewarded and calmly walked back to the car to rest so that the lessons learnt will slowly sink deeper into his brain and memory (Latent Learning).

 

Having achieved the 3 Bronze certificates, the Handler has now completed the  Hand Bronze Level and would be awarded a 3-tiered rosette (pale green outer, yellow middle, bronze inner). 

 

If there are any lessons for the Trainer to learn and pass on to the other Trainers about this dog/relationship, the dog's training record is where this should be recorded.

 

HAND SILVER LEVEL

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

AIMS - from a restrained recall,

  • the dog learns to RUN AWAY from its Handler

  • to RETRIEVE a "toy" and RETURN it to the Handler

  • and CONSISTENTLY over a distance

  • with the DISTRACTION of a dog working near by

 

At the Silver level of any Game, plastic netting should be used between lanes in the interests of dog safety.

 

SILVER Certificate 1

The Silver Level of Hand is the same as for Bronze level but we are pushing the dog just a little bit further to run down the Lane, pick up the toy and return to the Handler with the distraction of another dog nearby also running up and down their own Lane.

 

A decision needs to be made by the trainer but in discussion with the Handler. Silver level requires another dog to be under training (or otherwise) at the same time BUT in another Lane.

  • should our dog run in Lane A where it has done its previous training & another dog in Lane C? OR

  • should our dog run in Lane C which it is new to and also with the added distraction of another but "experienced" dog in Lane A?

  • Should you always use the same distraction dog or use different ones?

Which would be most beneficial to our dog without pushing him too hard? In a new Lane (new environment), the dog may struggle; also with the movement and distraction of another dog nearby (but not too close). Try him in the new Lane on his own, with no other dog about. If the dog is struggling, take a break. There is no rush. Try each run and see how the dog copes. If he is struggling, go back one step, reward him and then the Hand Game is finished. Always finish on a success. Put the dog back in the car, taking care to avoid any other dogs. This is classed only as a training session as the objective was not achieved. 

 

At this level (Silver 1), the 2 dogs will run in the same direction. Timing of the releash of each dog should be watched to ensure success for the dog under training. Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler is awarded Hand Silver Certificate 1. Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

SILVER Certificate 2

Again, a similar decision needs to be made. Silver level requires another dog in another Lane at the same time. The running direction is again switched for the dog under training but both dogs are still running in the same direction.

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler is awarded Hand Silver Certificate 2. Again, with the change in direction, the dog may struggle initially. Again, this may well be caused by the "scent geography" of the Lane. Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

SILVER Certificate 3

Again, a similar decision needs to be made. Silver level requires another dog to in the other Lane at the same time. The running direction is again switched for the dog under training but both dogs are now running in OPPOSITE directions to test the focus of the dog on the objective to be achieved.

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler has achieved Hand Silver Certificate 3 and with that completed Hand Silver Level and the Handler would be awarded a 3-tiered Rosette (pale green outer, yellow middle, silver inner) on having completed Hand Silver. Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

If there are any lessons for the Trainer to learn and pass on to the other Trainers about this dog/relationship, the dog's training record is where this should be recorded.

 

HAND GOLD LEVEL

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

AIMS - from a restrained recall,

  • the dog learns to RUN AWAY from its Handler

  • to RETRIEVE a "toy" and RETURN it to the Handler

  • and CONSISTENTLY over a distance

  • with the DISTRACTION of a dog

  • WORKING IN THE SAME LANE

 

GOLD Certificate 1

The Gold Level of Hand is building on what the dog learnt at the Silver Level but the 2 dogs are now working in the same Lane, therefore management of the situation is paramount. The dog under training runs down the Lane first, picks up the toy and returns to his Handler and is fully under control by his Handler BEFORE the second Handler releases the second (stooge) dog to perform Gold Hand as well. I would always recommend that this stooge dog is well known by the Handler and Trainer(s), its behaviour is well understood. The Helper at the box end must be equipped accordingly with the 2 different toys required.

 

A decision needs to be made by the trainer but in discussion with the Handler. Gold level requires the dog under training to run away from his Handler, focus on the toy, pick it up and run back to his Handler, ignoring the Helper, ignoring the other dog and ignore the other Handler in the same Lane. Therefore the Handler needs to ensure that the timing of calling his dog back (having picked up the toy) is good enough and enthusiastic enough and the reward is good enough to bring the dog to him. I would recommend that the initial run is performed by the dog under training, and is performed in Lane A, the training Lane, as both dogs should be very comfortable working in this Lane.

 

Each dog is different; each situation is different. This is the most difficult of all these Games working close to another dog that they may not have met before, but certainly they should know each other's scent.

 

There is no rush so take your time while watching the reaction of both dogs. If you feel that either dog would benefit from a rest, do so. Be patient - the Trainer, Handler and Helper should all be watching the dogs and learning from them.

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand Gold runs, the stooge dog is rewarded and removed from the Lane and returned to his car. The dog under test is rewarded and stays for a little longer to allow the other dog time to return to their car. When the siuation is safe enough, the dog under test is returned to their car. The Handler is awarded Hand Gold Certificate 1. Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

 

IF EITHER DOG IS STRUGGLING

 

If either dog is struggling, take a break. There is no rush. With each run, see how each dog copes. If either is struggling, go back one step. Keep the dog under test in this Lane A and remove the other dog to the other Lane C to perform this Game on his own, so both are going back to the Silver Level to remind them of what is required. After a run or two with rewards, the Game is finished and the dogs should be returned to their respective cars separately and no interaction should occur between them. 

 

Put the dogs back in the car one by one, taking care to avoid any other dogs. This is classed only as a training session as the objective was not achieved. The dog may not be comfortable with a particular dog in the same Lane so experiment and see which one he is comfortable with. This is all part of the learning required if the dog is going to compete in competitive sports.

 

Timing of the releash of each dog should be watched to ensure success for the dog under training. Should the dog under training be released first? or should the other dog be released first? What is the dog's reaction to being released first and being released second?

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is returned to the car and the Handler is awarded Hand Gold Certificate 1.

 

GOLD Certificate 2

Again, a similar decision needs to be made. Gold level requires another dog to be in the same Lane at the same time. Which dog will be the stooge dog to the dog under training? Should you use the same one as in Gold Certificate 1 or another one?

If you are using the same stooge dog, then Certificate 2 should be performed in the other Lane C, so that there is ONE change of environment. If you use a different stooge dog, then Lane A could be used.

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dogs are rewarded and returned to their cars and the Handler is awarded Hand Gold Certificate 2. Again, with the change of environment (ie different Lane or different stooge dog), the dog may struggle initially. Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

GOLD Certificate 3

Again, a similar decision needs to be made. Gold level requires another dog to in the same Lane at the same time. Again, which stooge dog will be used with the dog under training? Should you use the same one as in Gold Certificate 1 or 2 another one?

I suggest that you should try, at least, a second stooge dog in order to achieve Gold Level 3.

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler has achieved Hand Gold Certificate 3 and with that completed Hand Gold Level and the Handler should be awarded a 3-tiered Rosette (pale green outer, yellow middle, gold inner). Make a note on the dog's training record the name of the distracting dog because this may prove useful later.

 

If there are any lessons for the Trainer to learn and pass on to the other Trainers about this dog/relationship, the dog's training record is where this should be recorded.

 

HAND PLATINUM LEVEL

see Before Each Training Session Begins

 

At this level, we are looking to GENERALISE our training so that the dog can cope with this Game ANYWHERE. The dog will now be working outside of the Lanes and, therefore, managing the situation is paramount

 

AIMS - from a restrained recall,

  • the dog learns to RUN AWAY from its Handler

  • to RETRIEVE a "toy" and RETURN it to the Handler

  • and CONSISTENTLY over a distance

  •  

To prepare the dog for this next exercise, as usual, he is brought into one of the Lanes to relax him, let him read the newspaper, as he knows the routine now. When he is relaxed he is taken to the appropriate part of the training ground.

 

PLATINUM Certificate 1

This first Platinum session of Hand is usually carried out in an area similar to P as indicated in the Layout of the Training Area. There are the restrictions of the netting to one side and the stock fencing/hedge on the other side but the width of this new Lane Area P is greater than the Training Lanes (A and C) so it will be a different "feel" for the dog. The dog has not worked here before.

 

The dog is now familiar with the Hand Game but the environment is different  Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, away from the Handler to the toy on the mat where he picks up the toy and returns with it to the Handler, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler has achieved a Hand Platinum Certificate 1.

 

PLATINUM Certificate 2

Having read the newspaper, the dog is brought to an area similar to Q as indicated in the Layout of the Training Area. There are the restrictions of the netting to one side and the stock fence/hedge on the other side but the width of this new Lane Area Q is greater and one end is more open to the remaining field. Again, the dog has not worked in this area before and so it will be a different "feel" for the dog.  

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, away from the Handler to the toy on the mat where he picks up the toy and returns with it to the Handler, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car and the Handler has achieved a Hand Platinum Certificate 2.

 

PLATINUM Certificate 3

Having read the newspaper, the dog is brought to an area similar to R as indicated in the Layout of the Training Area, the middle of the field. There are no restrictions on any side just the open field, hence the need to manage the other dogs. Again, the dog has not worked in this area before and so it will be a different "feel" for the dog.  

 

Having completed 5 successful Hand runs, away from the Handler to the toy on the mat where he picks up the toy and returns with it to the Handler, the dog is rewarded and returned to the car. The Handler has achieved Hand Platinum Certificate 3 and would be awarded a 4-tiered rosette (pale green outer, yellow middle, pale green inner, yellow inner) and also a little trophy which could be engraved with the dog's name, date etc. 

 

If there are any lessons for the Trainer to learn and pass on to the other Trainers about this dog/relationship, the dog's training record is where this should be recorded.

 

The handler learns

  • Although some dogs naturally seem able to retrieve articles for their Handlers, other dogs do not have this instinctive drive. Problems with retrieve describe a variety of methods of how to teach dogs to overcome their reluctance to retrieve in positive and enjoyable ways.
  • Dogs have a "critical distance" (ie a distance at which the dog is reluctant to venture further away from its Handler). As the training of Hand progresses and the distance between the object and the Handler increases, the dog will suddenly become reluctant to run that far away and further positive and rewarding training will be needed to overcome these fears.
  • Any article can be used to retrieve in Hand as long as it is not too noisy and does not distract other dogs that are training nearby (eg squeaky toys are not suitable).

 

The dog learns

  • To retrieve static rather than moving objects. Many dogs only retrieve articles that they have seen thrown and then want to chaser. It is this strong chase instinct that makes them return the object to the Handler in order that it can be thrown and chased after once more. In the Hand, these types of dogs are taught how to enjoy bringing back objects that they have not seen thrown.
  • That the object is always placed in exactly the same position by the Helper each time it runs to get it (ie on a black rubber car mat). As the distance in training is increased the Handler moves further from the mat, yet the dog still knows where the mat is as the mat has not moved.

 

 

This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).

 

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