I would really like to compete in Open Obedience with Bosley. In order to do this, there is one major hurdle that we need to get over. That big hurdle is the Dumbbell. The main part of open obedience, besides all the off-leash heeling, is dumbbell work. Bosley is not a natural retriever and I never really worked on retrieving when he was a baby (I will know better with my next puppy) so we are having to work extra hard now. We actually haven't even got to the "retrieving" part yet, we are still working on getting Bosley to hold the dumbbell and think that the dumbbell "game" is great. For the past 3 months we have slowly been doing a bit of dumbbell work nearly every day and it has been a struggle because Bosley does not like to hold the dumbbell at at - even when I spread peanut butter on it.
I have had people tell me to use the "ear pinch" method to get Bosley to love his dumbbell. I have been told that this method is a quick way to get a reliable dumbbell hold. This may be true, but I just don't feel comfortable using this method. So I have been using my other training skills and positive reinforcement to try to get Bosley interested in the Dumbbell. All of our work is slowly starting to pay off. Bosley is now holding the dumbbell with a firm grip (no rolling) and without trying to run off with it to use it as a chew toy.
We will now start building up the length of time that he can hold the dumbbell and then start back-chaining a retrieve. I guess the good thing about the long Canadian winters is that you have lots of time to practice obedience when it is too cold or snowy to do anything outside. Hopefully by the end of winter we will have something that looks kinda like a retrieve.