Having your six year old train the retriever puppy…Bliss for me.

It’s holiday time and around my place that means to much time inside the house.  I’ve got kids at home and a puppy (nine months now, but still a puppy) that needs lots of exercise.  Parental dilemma for sure, or is it?

So, let me think about this for a minute, the puppy needs some cleanup work on his retrieve, return, and hand delivery.  The six year old needs LOTS of time outside the house in the cold to tire her out for an early bed time.  I’ve got a plan.

I ordered these silly retrieve trainers about a month ago that are supposed to help with retrieve issues.  They are nothing really, and I’ve manufactured a similar thing out of found objects many times in my training career.  But, there they were in the catalog and they were relatively inexpensive, so I ordered some.

Basically you shove some treats in this tube and throw it.  The dog has to bring it back to you for you to open it and give him a reward for the retrieve.  Super simple, super easy, super lazy, but it works and it works well.

I pulled one of these out this week and showed my six year old dog training daughter how to use it.  Showed her how to throw it (she’s really good at this part) and showed her how to get the puppy to deliver it to her.  She knows the “out” command for getting Super to release things so we’re good there.

When we went outside yesterday to start work, I tossed the thing about 4 times to make sure Super was in work mode and then my daughter said “can I do it daddy?”  That was all it took.  We were outside for hours over the last couple of days, and man has that puppy gotten a total retrieve workout.  Retrieving from the brush, from the street, from the weeds, from a tree limb, you name it and he’s gone after it.

At the end of the day the puppy is totally exhausted from the work.  He’s tired from the retrieve work fur sure, but it’s all the sits, downs, around, halts and all the other stuff my daughter throws in there while he’s waiting for the next bumper toss. The best part of the whole arrangement though is that Tom Sawyer thing. You know, the part where he gets all the other kids to pain the fence for him.  Yeah, I get to sit there and top off the treat toy every 20 minutes or so, and my six year old does all the hard work.  Now THAT is a dog trainer’s dream come true….tired kids, tired puppy, and I just get to sit back and supervise.

This is how you work on the proper retrieve if you are a six year old dog trainer.

The down stay:


The wind up:


More wind up (she is six after all)


Prepare for liftoff:


You can’t hear this but she just said “Take it” to the puppy




the “Out” command completed and ready to go again


Happy Holidays to us all and get those kids and puppies out in the cold to play.


Steve Haynes

Fidelio Dog Works