This Article is About
training your labrador retriever
baseball diamond
hand signals
right arm
distractions
dummies
piles
discipline
hunting
Training Your Labrador Retriever- The Baseball Drill
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Training Your Labrador Retriever- The Baseball Drill

Training a hunting Retriever to take hand signals is an important skill set for a dog that will be competing in field trials. It is also a helpful skill to know for a dog that is used for hunting. Each discipline requires similar skills. If you have been looking at training a retriever to handle, you probably have run across the baseball drill. You don't actually play baseball with your dog but setting up a drill on a baseball diamond is a good way to get this skill going.

Lets start with some background. This skill will allow you to stop your dog, Using hand signals you can send your dog to the left, right or behind. When mastered, handling can direct the dog to all of the compass points. You can get the dog to move directly away from you, move away at an angle or move directly to the right or left. Coming toward you or angling in your direction can also be accomplished.

Handling your lab works well if you have already established two basic commands although it can be done without these behaviors in place. These are stopping on a whistle and the come in command with a whistle. Voice commands can be substituted but eventually you will want to develop these skills.

The baseball drill is set up in a field with all distractions removed. Get a dozen retrieving dummies and make 4 piles of 3 dummies each. These should be set up around a pivot point. If you visualize a baseball diamond, the piles should be set up on the first, second and third bases with the final pile half way between the home plate and the pitcher's mound. The pitcher's mound becomes the pivot point.

Walk your dog out to the pitcher's mound and sit the dog facing the Home plate. Tell the dog to stay and walk back to the Home plate. To start, hold out your Right arm and step to the Right with your body while you say Over. The dog should look to it's left as you do this, see the pile of dummies and run over to get one. When the dog picks up a dummy, toot your whistle to get it to come in to you. If you have not trained to the whistle yet, call the dog to you with a come command. Repeat this for the other side, sending the dog to Third base.

To get the dog to go back, raise your hand straight up over your head. For the come in to the near pile, toot your whistle and command fetch or recall the dog and say fetch as the dog passes the pile.

There are many things that can go wrong. If you give one command and the dog goes for a different pile, run in to the dog and try to intercept it before it gets the dummy. Take it back to the Pitcher's mound, walk half way back to the home plate and send it again. Try to keep the dog from successfully retrieving the wrong dummy. This will confuse the dog and set your training back.

Handling your Lab takes time to develop. Repeat the drill over and over as many times as it takes to get your point across. Eventually you will be successful if you keep at it. Patience is a virtue when training a hunting retriever.


Street Talk

Shoot, I'm happy when I can just train my birds to go to a cage when they are told. I admire you patience to train sequences, variations and transferable skills. Awesome!

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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