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I know that at our Club, if the drive to retrieve is there, we can try and make the dumbbell a toy....so you can put it on a rope to chase or wrap the dumbbell with rope (so it doesn't get too mangled) and we play "tug" with it.

We throw the dumbbell over time and when the dog learns that if he returns back with it that he gets to "tug" and play we have the basics down.

Just another idea to make it fun for the dog. Nothing negative for the dog and works for those out there that aren't a "marker and clicker" when it comes to obedience. I learned that the key is to break it down into several steps. And play is a fine way to start.
 
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