Although most dog sports are essentially built around the same basic principals, each sport is unique in its own way. One of the exercises that makes French Ring sport different from other competitive dog sports is its retrieval exercises. There are three types of retrieval exercises, but only dogs competing in French Ring III, the most advanced level of French Ring titles, are expected to perform all three.
The first of the three exercises is known as the thrown retrieve. In this exercise, the handler throws an object, and the dog is simply expected to retrieve the object and return it to the handler. The throw must cover a distance of at least 5 meters, and the dog is only given 5 seconds to complete the exercise. Due to the time restrictions, the dog must move quickly, but it is also important that the handler be able to throw appropriate distance. Throwing further than 5 meters will obviously cost you time as your dog is required to run farther than the minimum 5 meters. Practise and coordination are required by both the dog and the handler.
The thrown retrieve exercise is performed in all three levels of French Ring. In French Ring II, a new retrieve is introduced, which is known as “seen retrieve”. The seen retrieve involves the handler and dog heeling down the field. The handler drops an object in plain site of the dog, and they continue moving. Finally, they stop, and the dog is instructed to run back and retrieve the object. In French Ring III, another variation of this is introduced, known as “unseen retrieve”. The unseen retrieve is essentially identical to the seen retrieve, except that the object is dropped without the dog seeing it.
Retrieval exercises are certainly nothing new to dog owners. It is certainly not uncommon to see dog owners from all walks of life teaching their pets to play “fetch”. French Ring tries to go a step further by incorporating elements of obedience and agility into the exercises. Of course, it’s important to remember that French Ring is just a sport. Sporting exercises are wonderful entertainment for handlers, dogs and spectators alike, but one should never confuse a sporting dog for a true protection dog. If you want a true canine protection, you need a dog that has been trained for protection, not for sport. A sporting dog should never be sold as a Protection Dogs, regardless of whether it’s a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd.