Monday, February 13, 2006

Teaching your Labrador Retriever the "release" command - readers email

Received this email from Anna from Sheffield UK


I am after a bit of advice for my 11 month old golden Labrador. He is very faithful and does almost everything I ask of him except one thing. He loves to retrieve, but once he comes back to me with the retrieved item he will not drop it for me or let me take it without force. I have tried all kinds of commands but he is just so fixated on his ball or stick that he doesnt want to part with it. Could you offer any help?

Many Thanks.....Anna

Well Anna lets see what we can do. We taught our two Labradors the “release” command first, before we introduced the game of fetch. That’s fine though, with a little patience, some practice, and plenty of praise, you can get your Labrador to drop the toy for you while playing fetch.

It’s important that your Labrador gives you the object willingly, and it doesn’t become a tug – of – war for the item.

The first approach to try is to play fetch with two identical toys for your Lab ( A frisbee, tennis balls or any other particular object your Lab loves). They must be identical though.

Take your first toy and throw it letting your Labrador chase it. When he picks up the toy call him back to you and show him that you have another toy, playfully teasing him with it. At that point, you can let out a command of “release” or “drop”. More than likely, your Labrador will want the second toy you have and will tire of the first toy, dropping it. When he does, throw the second toy and start the whole process again.

Remember to use plenty of praise when your Labrador Retriever does release the toy. Repetition and practice is the key.

A second approach you can try is to have some nice tasty treats ready and your Labs favorite toy to play fetch with. Begin throwing the toy and letting your Labrador chase it. When he picks it up, call him back to you, showing him the food treat. When he brings the toy back to you, again you can use a command of “release” or “drop it”. Your Lab will have to drop the toy to eat the food treat. When he drops the toy, pick it up, give him the treat and praise your Labrador heavily. Keep practicing this and slowly stop rewarding with treats, and replace it with praise only.

With practice and plenty of praise you should Seb releasing the toys in no time. Thanks for the email Anna and please keep me updated on how the training is going. Good Luck.

To see a photo of Anna's Labrador Retriever click: Seb

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