This Little Doggy is a born retriever. I mean, the clue’s in the name. No, not “Luna”… “Labrador Retriever“. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee a strong retrieval instinct, because the Two Bigger Doggies had to be taught every step of a retrieve chain, but the Squidge seems to have come with it pre-programmed.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing retrieving games in the house. Usually just with her soft toys, and occasionally with a ball or dummy ball, a ball-like object made of canvas, with a throwing cord, made for gun dog training.
The purpose of these games is to make retrieving fun. It’s not to get a full retrieve chain, with a perfect delivery to hand. It’s to encourage her to bring stuff – any stuff – to me. So the last thing I want to do is take these prizes of hers away from her, or she’ll quickly learn to play “keep away” with the things she picks up. Instead, I encourage her back (again, not an issue, because she’s a fabulously tactile puppy who loves to sit on my lap) and then let her hold onto whatever she has. We play tug with it, I scootch the toy along the floor for her to chase, I hold it while she gives it a chew. There’s no rush to get it off her to throw it again. In fact, I mustn’t throw these things too often because retrieving can be very hard on growing joints, so we only do a small number of repetitions. The instant she drops it, though, it’s mine, and I take it away from her for a second or two. This is to encourage her to hold onto it. A bit counter-productive, you might think, since the idea is to have her give me what she’s holding, but I want her to learn to hold it until I ask for it, not for her to spit it out before I’m ready. That’s another lesson!
You can see in the video that she has absolutely no qualms about bringing me things – note especially at 1:40! In fact, she’s so keen to bring me things, in one evening, I had delivered to me: a small Kong ball, a dummy ball, Tupper the lamb (soft toy), two trainers, a boot and a shopping bag. Nope, this little girl doesn’t do things by halves!