This is a personal weblog based on my life with Bernese Mountain Dogs. The opinions expressed here represent my own and and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any clubs, organizations or committees that I may be associated with. Please feel free to comment on any post, but profane, abusive or rude comments will not be tolerated - please be polite, even if you disagree.
All photos and posts in this blog are the property of the blog author and may not be used without direct consent.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Bit of Progress.

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.


  1. This is a great picture of him holding the dumbbell!

    I don't know anything about the ear pinch method but it sounds very uncomfortable for the dog.

    Good luck! I know he will do great!


  2. wooohoo bosley!!! I am glad the pb is doing the trick!

    amanda not wendy

  3. oh Bosley, you look totally handsome holding that dumbell!!!! good dog!

  4. Oh, Bosley looks like he was suffering holding that dumbbell. Hehe!

    The dumbbell thingy was the HARDEST thing for me to learn too. That was like 1 year ago. I am not a natural retriever either but yet I can retrieve my tennis balls with no problem but any other stuff, no way!

    My Mommy had such a hard time trying to make me like the dumbbell & to pick it up from the ground & the bring it back to her. When my previous trainer saw that I wasn't able to do it, he tried his own method on me. He strangled me with my leash wrapped around my neck till I was gagging & gagging & he was trying to force me to take the dumbbell from his hand. I still refused. It didn't work! Mommy felt so uncomfortable & helpless watching me go through such trauma.

    Later that day, I HATED the dumbbell even more! Everytime I see it, I hide. The trainer also used to pinch ear method on another dog & it didn't work either. The dog just screamed in pain & then gave him a nip. He hated it even more too! So, never do these kind of harsh methods just to get the dog to retrieve a dumbbell. Causing pain & force is just not right.

    Mommy spent alot of time trying to make me play with the dumbbell & sometimes when she throws it, I actually picked it up. So then she rewards me for doing so. That was like the 1st step to getting me to like it & to retrieve it. Later, she held the dumbbell in her hands, same level as my mouth while I sat right in front of her & when she asks me to "Get it", I just move forward & reach it with my mouth. The moment I touch it, I get rewarded. Then she increased the distance. Further & further away.

    Later on as I was getting better at it, she placed the dumbbell on the floor. Many times I didn't get what she wanted me to do or I just refused to pick it up. So Mommy guides me by pointing at it. When Mommy asks me to pick it up, as I reach down to kinda pick it up(but actually I try not to coz I didn't want to), Mommy picks it up & puts it in my mouth for me & then moves backwards & asks me to follow her like doing the recall exercise, then sit & give. The I get praised & rewarded. That was when I was starting to get the idea of picking up the dumbbell on the ground. The whole time, it never clicked in mah head.

    This training went on for many weeks. Mommy was very patient with me. I still hated it for many months but suddenly on one fine day, I LOVED it! Till today, I am very willing to retrieve it for her. I even run to it & then pick it up like it's some toy & proudly trot back to Mommy & sit nicely in front of her.

    Hey, I have another Golden friend who hated the dumbbell at 1st just as much as I did before. His owner tried for many weeks & then suddenly, he loved it too. Just suddenly!

    It will take some time. You'll need lotsa patience with him. Exercises like this, you'll need to praise him like crazy & reward him with lotsa deeleecious treats! And I mean, really deeleecious out of this world kinda treats! Later he will find it a fun routine. "I go pick up the dumbbell, run back to my Mom, sit, give it to her, finish & then HUGE reward!" It's gotta be a fun game.

    You could always try this same method with him but do remember this, my Mommy's method might not work with other dogs. Maybe some. You'll just need to find ways that will work. Mommy never got advise from anybody else. She just used her brains. Good Mommy! Hehehe!

    Butt wiggles,
    Solid Gold Dancer

  5. We're trying to teach the 'hold' at the moment!! TEss likes to CHEW all toys whilst carrying them so I'm working on a nice hold with no chewing. She LOVES the dumbell and gets very excited. Haven't tried teaching it yet with my youngest collie - he doesn't understand the concept of retrieving so may be a very slow process!!

    I think the ear pinch sounds awful and why would it work?