Until about a week ago I worked Brito’s metal and leather articles separately.  Now I’m introducing the idea that the piles might be mixed together.

I’ve also increased the quantity of articles.

Next I will introduce even more challenges.  I will change locations to generalize his behavior, add the concept of a formal return, vary the number of articles that I put out, add distractions and novel requests, and change the objects that I use to have him search. I will also send him to a room to find his article where I cannot see what he is doing, so that I can be sure that I am not influencing his decisions.  Ideally these changes are introduced one at a time.

This unedited video shows a few of these changes.

I have significantly increased the number of articles that he had to choose from, so I placed  TWO scented articles in the pile to ensure that he could find the correct choice more quickly.  It is important that you not place those articles close to each other – your dog should not be able to smell one while he is fetching another, so I place them far apart.  After he picks up one correct option, I have the choice to either return it to the pile or to send him again so he can find the second one.

If I am sitting on the floor, I ignore it if he doesn’t get the article all the way into my hand.  That is not important right now as long as he is using his nose and selecting the correct option.  To demonstrate that point, I added in two “formal” sends to the pile at the end of the exercise.  He has never seen this before, so you’ll see his confusion.  I helped him work through it.  His knowledge of dumbbell and glove retrieves make the return and front fairly easy once he begins to understand what I want.

When he left he brought a toy from the bedroom off to the side.  No worries – I just took it, gave him a cookie, and sent him back to the pile.  I was pretty sure there were no more toys for him to find, and he’s never been asked to ignore toys while working articles.

Notice that his tail never stops wagging and he stays in the game continuously.  That is the most important quality that you can nurture in your dog, so make that your number one priority!  I would rather have him guess and get it wrong “with confidence” than shut down and refuse to play my game.