Lyra likes her dumbbell and has a reasonable retrive on the flat.   She has a basic understanding of going over a jump when I indicate it, though she does make some mistakes (which you can see in the tape).  Now I’m introducing retrieve over high jump.

Each dog is different, but in Lyra’s case I introduced it with a toy.  If your dog does not bring toys directly back, I would rethink this decision.  Lyra is very good about returning directly, and using toys gives her a good attitude.

Here’s the video:

0:00 I ask her to jump several times.  As you can see, sometimes she jumps and sometimes she goes around the jump; she is still working out the details. You can see that I more or less ignore the mistakes; when she jumps correctly my attitude is brighter and I often reward with a toy.  If she’s engaging me, she cannot be “wrong” even if she does something different than I had in mind or expected from her.

0:30 sec  I ask her to stay and I place her toy on her side of the jump.  I then indicate the toy as I walk by the jump.  By placing the toy very close to the jump, odds are excellent that she’ll go over the jump, simply because it is in her way.  She is rewarded with lots of play and personal interaction.  this sequence is working on the “return with an object” portion of the Retrieve over High Jump.

1:05 sec  I hold her back and toss her toy over the jump.  Ideally she is sent from close enough that she goes over the jump.  I follow her and meet her on the other side of the jump.  Here i am working on the “go over the jump on the way out” part of the exercise.  By meeting her on the far side of the jump I eliminate the possibility of a failure to return correctly; there is no return.  By standing in front of the jump, she learns to turn hard and come directly back to the jump.

1:15 She goes around the jump on the way out to her toy.  No big deal but I don’t celebrate with her.  She grabs my shirt on the way back to try again; I just ignore it since it’s a frustration response.  Her next attempt is correct and I celebrate.

2:25 I switch from her toy to a dumbell and repeat the above progression.

3:15 She comes back over the jump but forgets the dumbell.  I talk her through it and she returns with it correctly.

3:36 I place her off center so she can see me around the stanchion but I cue “get it” before the jump.  The purpose of this is to teach her to find her way back to the center of the jump even when the dumbbell lands off center on the return.  By placing the dumbbell or toy close to the jump she is very likely to be successful.  On the next one she succeeds with the jump but forgets the dumbbell.  I help her out and she goes back for it.

4:30 I hold her back and throw the dumbbell, meeting her on the other side.  This is the same as what I did with her toy earlier.

The last step (which I did not do) would be a formal retrieve over the high jump, with or without a “stay” or a “front”.

Lyra has seen most of these pieces on and off over the past month or two so I moved through them quickly.  If at any point she struggles with this exercise, I can go back to the piece that will help remind her of the correct behavior.

Now it’s simply a matter of practice.  We’ll do lots of these in different ways over the years to come!

If you’re just starting out, make sure you do plenty of each step before making the exercise more difficult.