This video shows the steps I’m using with Brito to teach a retrieve with a “front.”
I teach the ‘hold’ at the end of my shaped retrieve training rather than at the beginning. I do this mostly because the dogs enjoy it more, progress faster, and it works for me. If you taught the hold first, then you’ll have a head start on that piece.
First I warm Brito up on his platform for straight fronts. (Brito’s platform is actually Lyra’s that has been turned upside down to create a very tight channel) Again, it works for us; use what is most comfortable for you.
Next I added the retrieve (which he already knows). I had just finished doing a series of fronts with the platform so odds were good that he would sit (or begin to sit) with the object, straight in front. And he does!
If he fails to retrieve when I cue it, I just send him on again. Eventually, if he does not go on the first cue, I’d end the exercise, get the object myself, and start over. At this point it’s not my focus.
When he was showing some reliability with this, I began to stand up, still using the platform.
Next I refreshed straight fronts without a platform. This is the hardest thing I’ve taught Brito to date since he avoids coming in to the front of my body. Very different than my big girls!
Finally I added the retrieve to the front.
I’ll continue to work on all of these pieces in this sequence a few days a week until he is very comfortable finding front with an object in his mouth, even without the support of a platform. At this point he holds for about a second before I take it. Over the next few months, I’ll increase that just a tiny fraction at at time. I’ll also put him back on the platform when I increase the criteria for the hold.
At all steps of this training, I try to vary my hand position from front, side and behind my back. Of those three, hands at my sides are the hardest because he can see food and he has to ignore it to hit a straight front.
Eventually I’ll teach him to take a direct line to the glove and fetch on command, and then we’ll have a glove retrieve!