The Diagonal box

This exercise is a good follow on from the back and memory retrieves and the compass exercise.  It helps to build the dog's confidence in going back in which ever direction you point him and to face the wind in different directions.


Choose a wide open space.  You are going to walk in a square or oblong shape with your dog at heel

Check for good landmarks at each corner of the box shape


1. Walk from point A in a straight line to point B

2. Sit the dog (preferably on the stop whistle as practice)

3. Throw the dummy a yard in front of you keeping the dog steady but allowing him to mark it.

4. Make a 90 degree turn to walk the next edge of the box shape to point C (this will end up being on the diagonal from where you first started and will be the most difficult of the retrieves as there will end up being a distration memory either side).

5. Repeat steps 2 & 3.

6. Make another 90 degree turn to walk the next edge of the box shape to point D

7. Proceed again as in steps 2 & 3

8. Make another 90 degree turn and walk in a straight line to your original start point at point A.

9.  The easiest retrieve will be the last dummy placed at point D and to start the dog confidently this is the retrieve to start with.

10. Set the dog up correctly (see photo and text under back and memory retrieves) so he is looking in the direction your arm is pointing and give the back command.  You are aiming for him to go straight to the spot where the dummy is at point D (you can give him the hunt command or whistle when he reaches it) If he over runs the area promptly whistle him back to the spot and give the hunt command/whistle.

11. Once he has retrieved the dummy go through the same process for the dummy at point B i.e the first dummy placed.

12. Lastly, repeat the process for the dummy at point C on the diagonal.


It is generally at step 12 that most dogs will start to get the send off wrong (although this can happen at any stage) the way to try and correct this is as follows.

If when you send him for the dummy sets off in the wrong direction i.e. any direction which is not in  straight line towards the dummy you want.  Then immediately recall him and set him up again.  If he still sets off in the wrong direction, call him back, walk with him to heel in a straight line nearer to the dummy  Sit him and try sending him again.  If he still gets it wrong.  Sit him, instruct him to stay whilst you walk in a straight line to the dummy.  Do not pick it up but stand by it for a few seconds looking at him then walk back to him and send him again.


Phase two

Once the dog is doing this exercise competently all through start going for the dummies in a different order.  You will know he has really understood when you can collect the diagonal dummy at point  C.  


Phase three

Start putting the dummies out as blinds rather than memories

Start placing the box so that there are changes of ground or plants on route to the dummies or obsticles that are in the way.  Also change the way the dummies are placed in relation to the wind direction.