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Perfecting the Dumbbell Pickup
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One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about dogs that have poor dumbbell pick-ups. Some dogs hit the dumbbell with their feet, some push it with their nose, but in either case, they lose points for a poor pick-up. 

This can be a difficult problem to fix. How do you say to a dog, “I love that you’re picking it up, I hate how you are doing it?” If you’re not careful, you will communicate to the dog that you don’t want him to pick it up at all. 

Most trainers, when they see that this problem is developing, do everything they can think of to prevent the mistake. For example, they place the dumbbell up against a wall, under a chair, or on a piece of chicken wire. Those approaches work as long as you use them. The theory is that if you prevent the problem long enough, the dog will get in the habit of picking the dumbbell up correctly. 

What makes poor pick-ups difficult to fix is that dogs often find the activity to be self-rewarding. Dogs love to chase moving objects, and once a dog discovers that he can make the dumbbell move, it is hard to stop him. If a dog enjoys the game, he will resume hitting the dumbbell with his feet as soon as you stop throwing it against the wall. If the dog could speak, he might say: “Thank goodness you’ve started throwing the dumbbell where I can play my chasing game again.” 

Teaching a dog that it matters how he picks a dumbbell up is tricky. The technique I use includes several steps. The first three steps are demonstrated in the following video. Try these steps if your dog has a poor dumbbell pick-up. I will be sending the next steps to you in a week or so. 

Click to View Video: Perfecting the Dumbbell Pick-Up, Part 1