In the North American Diving Dogs (NADD) events of air retrieve and hydrodash, the toy grab is key. You can work on this at home away from the pool so that your time at the pool can be used in other ways.
Be sure that you have one of the NADD approved bumpers (shown below). These can be purchased at a variety of stores and at Splashdown. This toy should be treated as a “special” toy. This toy only comes out when playing with you.
Your dog should want this toy at all costs. The good news is you can build the drive for the toy through a multi-step process. As with all good dog training, break the task down and teach each part of the task as a behavior. Biting, gripping or taking the toy are all ways of saying that we want the dog to take the toy in its mouth and possess it.
To work on this drive, drag the toy around on the ground moving away from your dog. When your dog chases the toy, celebrate it. Become part of the game by moving quickly in a variety of directions. You might even tie a string or rope to the toy so that you are better able to drag it and move it along the ground. If your dog, bites the toy the celebration increases. It should be clear to your dog and anyone watching that you want him/her to bite the toy.
As your dog becomes willing to bite the toy, encourage him/her to hang on to the toy over time by gently pulling on the toy and encouraging them when they hold on to it. If they drop it when you tug, encourage them to bite it again and continue practicing and building duration over time.
Of course, as your dog becomes desirous of the toy, he/she will need to learn a command that means to release the toy. Commands such as “out,” “give,” “mine,” “have,” or “drop,” amongst others, are heard on docks across the land. Check back next month to learn the steps for teaching this concept.