Next, we reinforce the same skills while the dog is seated untied on the ground. After a few sessions the dog should be relaxed while holding the object securely as you walk about, touch the dog or create minor distractions. The outcome of this sequence is to be able to approach the dog, touch the dowel and command the release. We often conduct this drill with three to four dogs in group sessions with enhanced results.
Now, condition the pup to heel while holding the dowel. This may take a bit more effort as it involves the new dimension of movement. Here, the outcome is to be able to heel the dog considerable distances with turns and the occasional sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Include crossing a few small obstacles as well.
Put the dog in a sitting position, place the dowel in the mouth and command, "Hold." Walk a short distance away from the pup and call the pup to heel. Occasionally, as the pup approaches, remind the pup to "hold." As the pup reaches you, have him finish by sitting by your side or in front of you (your preference) and carefully take the dowel with the release command. Reward successful completion of the exercise profusely with much excitement. Gradually extend the distance out to 50 yards and remember: no retrieves yet. If problems occur, simplify by shortening the distance or returning to hold/heel.
Now that the pup reliably delivers the dowel to hand from remote sit and makes a stylish recovery for delivery, we repeat the entire process using a small canvas or fire hose bumper - table, ground, heel and recall. This should progress quickly if preliminaries were properly instilled. Next, include the carrying of a variety of objects from remote sit to hand delivery - weighted bumpers, dead fowl dummies, frozen birds of various sizes and finally freshly killed game.
Upon completion of Sequence 5, we should now have a pup that:
- Understands the "hold" and release commands
- Delivers bumpers and birds to hand from remote sit
- Stylishly delivers to hand in a desirable finished position
Ready for the test? Attempt a simple, straightforward retrieve to demonstrate the result of your work. We want to find out if our conditioning has modified the behavior for the desired results of solidly picking up the bumper, holding the bumper while carrying it, delivering the bumper to hand and releasing the bumper properly. If so, we are ready for the final phase with no further retrieving at this point. If not, revisit the appropriate sequence for further conditioning.
Our final phase of conditioning will take us to the field and water to apply the newly shaped behaviors of delivery to practical situations.