‘Types’ of Retrieves: Marks, Memories and Blinds
Unravelling the confusion!



This is an area where, judging by the people I train and speak with, a lot of confusion takes place. I hope this answers the mystery of when and how you tackle the three main types of retrieves – Marks, memories and blinds. Different trainers will train different ways and maybe tell you different things. Always listen to your own trainer (but if what I’m writing makes sense and is hugely different to what you are told to do, feel free to ask them questions…grin).


Marked/Seen retrieves

A MARKED or SEEN retrieve is one that has been thrown by someone, it hits the ground, and you are told to send your dog for it within seconds. So its one the dog has SEEN with no others out already, or any other time delay such as another dog running in and needing to be brought back or maybe, later on, another dummy being thrown elsewhere as a ‘distraction’. SO in that circumstance…trainer throws the dummy…. it lands…. I shout ‘Jo!’…. and the handler sends their dog, give or take, immediately. The handler would be standing up straight, pause a second or two to start to create ‘steadiness’, then release to retrieve it by way of a verbal send command ONLY, not an arm being thrown out or anything other than the verbal release command of ‘Fido!… or Back!….or Fetch!….’ or whatever you decide on. The DOG should be intently watching on this sort of retrieve, and he should, ideally not have his eyes distracted in any way by an arm etc in *most circumstances*, unless you start him from puppyhood with a trainer that does throw out/send with their arm on a ‘mark/seen’ retrieve and therefore your dog learns to lock on from day and not ever glance up at your arm or try and make eye contact before being sent.

A dog being sent out for a marked/seen retrieve.



Memory retrieves

A MEMORY retrieve, called other things elsewhere but most people call it this, is one that the dog HAS seen come out, but *something* has happened afterwards to create a time delay from a few seconds (IE longer than you would hold a dog before sending it on a ‘marked’ retrieve (above)…. to a long period of time for an older more experienced dog. Commonly, lets say you have heeled him along, sat him up, left him in a stay and walked forward, tapped the dummy checking he is watching, then thrown it. You then have walked back to him and heeled him AWAY to create a little more distance and also this creates steadiness. Then you turn him and he is to be sent for it.

Ok, the heeling etc etc has created a time delay. So it is now not a SEEN retrieve but a MEMORY one. If he charges out and picks it it will be because he has REMEMBERED where it is rather than never took his eyes off it. Now, heres the twist. ALTHOUGH he watched it come down, because a delay has taken place, now we need to help him regain certainty that its THAT retrieve. This is practising for later on and completely BLIND retrieves he has not seen come out at all and only has you to tell him where they are by way of direction. SO on a memory you would have him take a line down your arm, not by just throwing it out, but by using your arm as a ‘pointer’ as such. He would not be released on a ‘back/fetch etc’ command until you felt sure for a second or two he was ‘locked on’ in the correct direction of travel.

Preparing to send on a memory/blind retrieve


Lining the dog out with your arm and it showing it knows where you want it to go by ‘looking intently’ *that way*


Sending the dog on your verbal release when happy its likely to go where you plan…


If a young or novice dog needs restraining softly with a hand on his chest or in his collar (as pictured below…), that’s fine initially till he learns that he does NOT go forward till your VOCAL ‘release’ comes.


Remember, he does NOT go forward just because your arm reaches the end of its trajectory. Your arm extends…and then you check if the dog is looking down it by just flicking your eyes to his, if he IS, then you can send. A memory retrieve would *also* be, for example, IF you were MEANT to be having a straight marked retrieve. But just as you go to send your dog, another runs in. That owner stops it and calls it back, and your marked retrieve is still lying out there. You can be SURE your dog has been watching the other dog as the owner gets sorted and taken his eyes off the ‘marked retrieve’ so therefore it has now *turned into* a memory retrieve, by way of sending him down your arm, taking time to line him out, checking he is looking where you want him to go,and then releasing him on your ‘go’ command.

There are many other senarios when a thrown retrieve which could be considered a ‘marked/seen’ retrieve needs to be sent for as a ‘memory’, IE down your arm…. but the main thing to bear in mind is its a memory retrieve – so with the dog lined out down your arm… IF:

* There has been a time delay of more than a few seconds.

* There is more than one dummy out there EXCEPT if it is in exactly the same place as the retrieve just thrown that you are sending for, so basically you will need to indicate to a dog ‘I want that one, NOT *that* one’ fido.

* You have had to heel away from the thrown dummy, or change the dogs position significantly.

* Your dog has gone to run in and you have caught it and brought it back to heel…. then you will send it down your arm… because its taken its eyes off the original ‘seen/mark’.


Blind retrieves

A BLIND retrieve is one that the dog has not seen come out at ANY time, even AGES ago, and was placed without his knowledge and so has only how you line him out and then direct him when he is out there going towards it, to tell him the direction to go. You can only develop a dog that trusts you on BLIND retrieves over an extended period of training and about a million MEMORY rteirves of every type True blinds are the most difficult of retrieve because the dog has to trust you completely and so will be obedient to what you are telling it WHATEVER it happens to think about where the retrieve PROBABLY is, I.E: ‘Its in the hedge/ditch/wood/where he saw the LAST dog have ITS retrieve’ etc etc…. All blind retrieves would be sent for with your arm to line the dog out and you absolutely certain he is absolutely straight and fixed onto the ‘direction of travel’.

Diana – Dec 2012

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