How Retrieving Works - Overview

← Go Back

How Retrieving Works
Enriching Your Walks with Positive Reinforcement and Welfare-Centred Dummy Training

Course Description

Classes are held weekly on Fridays, 12pm Mountain time, from June 30th, 2023 to August 18th, 2023.

For the class to be taught, a minimum of five attendees must be registered. To ensure personal and high-quality feedback, a maximum of 12 attendees are allowed for this class.

Mission (What the course will deliver)

This course is designed to equip the companion dog behavior professional with the necessary skills to teach basic and advanced principles of retrieving work to clients and their dogs.

Vision (Why the mission is important)

Companion dog behavior professionals who can educate and train owner-dog teams in positive-reinforcement retrieving work are proactively helping their clients to enrich their dogs’ lives. This specialized training can facilitate desired behavior and will improve the interactions between owners and their dogs.


This class aims at building specialized competency around “dummy training”, which is an exciting combination of retrieving and scent work. Most dogs enjoy using their senses to explore their surroundings. Dummy training offers the opportunity to teach important life skills that broaden the dogs’ behavioral repertoires. These include but are not limited to (a) stimulation of all canine senses but especially their scenting ability; (b) stimulus control which leads to improved “attention to owner” and “self-control” (i.e., choosing to look at owner and to wait for the next cue); and (c) the owners learn how to harness their dogs’ skill set to increase cooperation. All competencies are taught with positive reinforcement procedures by applying principles form the science of behavior analysis.

Learning activities

How Retrieving Works is an eight-week course. Each class is two hours long and is taught once a week. Each student is encouraged to participate in the following learning activities:

  • Prepare and video record your homework exercise. In addition to your video, you include observations of (a) challenges in the environment; (b) your dog’s engagement (e.g., emotional behavior, inter-response times, latencies); and (c) your training challenges.
  • Bring questions and comments for discussion to each teleconference via Messenger texts.
  • Complete a short quiz as your final exam to help you synthesize the content taught.


  • The successful completion of “Living and Learning with Animals” taught by Dr. Susan Friedman is highly recommended as a prerequisite for this class.
  • A solid understanding of operant learning will benefit attendees in teaching the specific behaviors to dogs and their owners (e.g., differential reinforcement of various behaviors).

Materials for Class

  • At least two identical preferred toys (e.g., balls or other toys)
  • At least two canvas or plastic dumbbells (i.e., “dummies”). Their weight and size should be appropriate for your dog’s size, e.g., 250g (= 0.551 lbs) for a dog between 13kg and 25kg in wight (29 lbs to 55 lbs).
  • Preferred treats
  • A dog whistle which should be audible to human hearing (we need to hear the sound) but otherwise any type of whistle can be used.
  • A non-slip floor target (e.g., bathroom mat) or other type of low platform (e.g., 1-2” hight place board).
© 2023 Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.