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To make a handle grip, youíll need plastic training golf balls - which look much like miniature whiffle balls - and a sharp pair of wire cutters. The plastic balls are hollow and covered with small holes. Simply cut away a triangle shape from inbetween three of the holes, thread the dummyís rope through one of the holes opposite of the cut, tie a secure knot in the end, and youíre ready to go.

On a Short Leash

When I begin introducing my young dogs to water retrieving, I clip a 26í extendable leash to their collar. I like the extendable leash because it doesnít add any drag and isnít likely to cause the pup to become tangled. Still, do exercise caution and common sense. Iíve found that the extendable leash enables the handler to gently guide the pup in to complete the retrieve, if needed.

Start in shallow water - less than knee deep for you. At this age, the pup is not steady so excite her with the dummy before giving it a short toss. Be sure to keep the toss within the range of your extendable leash. As the pup is returning, allow the leash to retract. Should she attempt to circle you or avoid coming in, enact the brake on the leash so that she cannot move past or away from you. Keep the retraction of the leash smooth... never cause the pup to jerk. Encourage her to come to you, praise her, pet her, and accept the retrieve.

If swimming is a new experience for your pup, you may want to limit her first water retrieves to shallow water. Gradually, perhaps over the span of two or three outtings to the water, position the toss so that it will require the pup to swim part of the distance. Little by little, retreat your position onto dry land. Once she has become reliable at bringing the dummy right to you, the extendable leash can be removed. Take your time.

Try not to get into the habit of doing everything the same. Always using just one water location, standing at the same spot, doing the same number of retrieves, and using the same training dummy can dull the young dog's enthusiasm. If training becomes too predictable, the pup may begin to anticipate your next move. Variety will keep it interesting and enjoyable for both you and your pup. As with all training for young pups, remember to keep it upbeat, brief, and fun. End on a positive note and allow for some playtime, too.

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