Reverse Retrieve: Text Instruction

Goal:  Here in our handling program this game helps teach dogs that verbals “get it” may over ride the physical of “running away”. Good for dog’s who want to just chase you instead of completing an obstacle when you send and leave to get to a new position on course.

Trusting you have trained a retrieve at this point, we will use this game to speed up the rate at which the dog returns to you. Any time your dog practices running fast with you or to you, there will be a transfer of value in the game. Playing retrieve with toys and practicing chasing you with speed in the agility arena is training time well spent.

Equipment: Toy and Food Rewards. A collar on your dog. A perch or bowl if you are using food. This will be used as a “reward” station so your dog does not search the area.

Suggested Training Area Size: 15’ x 15’ (5m x 5m)

Step 1: Get your dog excited about the the toy as you get ready for the session. Try tossing the toy up in the air or playing the 1-2-3 game to get your dog excited and moving!

Step 2: Holding onto the dogs collar with the dog facing the toy. Rotate yourself with your feet facing going away from the toy (similar to the handling position for a Early Lower Body Rotation). Drop the toy in front of the dog’s front, cue the dog to “get it” and simultaneously run away from the toy. You may need to build up in layers from walking to running! The dog should drive to the toy, pick it up and then chase you down. This is the start of the verbal “get it” needs to override the body motion of running away. The toy starts off being very close so it is easy for the dog to be correct. You may use your arm to send across your body if you need to help the dog drive past you.

Step 3: Advancing the game. With success, throw the toy further away from you and the dog. With even more success leave the dog in a sit. Advance to leading out, face the dog, drop the toy at your side and simultaneously cue the dog to “get it” and start running. With this distance between you and the dog you’ll be running towards the dog while the dog is running to the toy. The dog will need to make a choice! Keep running as the dog drives to pick up the toy then chase you down. It may be hard for some dogs be patient!

Step 4: Agility is all about balance! Remember to play this game but toss in a “wit~wit” to keep the dog on their toes and “listening to their words”! When they register the “wit-wit” cue and come off the “get it” you will reward following your body on the “wit-wit” by turning around and sending the back to the toy or the reward.

Cookie Adaptation of the Game:

You may use food it you are still working on your retrieve but ultimately its about driving to the item snatching it up and driving fast back to you. The final picture for a dog chasing the food is “get it” and will run fast back to you... so select your food reward appropriately. The reinforcement for the chase is then the dog will jump up on your leg to receive a second cookie reward for chasing you. Use a perch to help your dog drive and snatch the food (vs sniffing and shopping around around on the ground.


If your dog does not have a good retrieve work this piece separate for a few days. Try throwing your toy in a corner and rewarding with a greater reinforcer the pick up and return to you.

If the dash away is too much for your dog simplify the game to drop the toy and take a few steps. Break it down for a few repetitions and then try it again.


Visit Blueprint for "Ignoring Body Motion – Advanced Reverse Retrieve" to see how you can grow and utilize this foundation.