Over the years I have used many different methods to teach the send away, mainly for French Ring. Putting a "place" marker down the field, having a toy down field by the fence, a ball hanging from a "arm", even food in a bowl were all methods used. While this has worked with most of my dogs, I have also run into issues with each method. Such as when my IPO dog, who was trained to go to "place" for the send out, raced down the field then screeched to a stop and turned to face me, her front feet proudly standing on a large maple leaf on the ground. Of all the methods mentioned above, sending the dog to a fence has IMO been the most reliable in terms of them not making a mistake and stopping to early. However, not every field is fenced, or fenced in a manner the dog is used to seeing. Especially a MondioRing field, which can have a wide variety of obstacles on the field, which a dog may confuse with a "place", fence, etc.
While playing with my dogs one day before we started training, I realized that as soon as I pulled out the chuck-it, all my dogs started racing away from me as fast as they could, hoping to be the first one to the ball that would eventually drop from the sky. IE a beautiful send away 🙂 Now I just needed to put it on a cue, add a little obedience at the start line, and we were good to go. Instead of looking for a fence, or a certain spot on the ground, they would just run in a straight line until the reward dropped from the sky, or they heard me recall them.
I started to teach this with Ares sitting at my side. He did already have the foundation of a send away to a place, but this can also be done with a dog without any send away foundation, but knows how to play fetch, by just holding them back, getting them super excited about the possibility of a toy somewhere in front of them, then letting them go. I would send him, then IMMEDIATELY throw the ball out in front of him. The first few times he was confused, since he didn't have the competitive edge to race the other dogs created, but he very quickly realized the ball was going to drop from the sky in front of him. We started with very short sends, basically as soon as he started to go, I threw the ball. 10, maybe 20 feet. Once he had the concept, I then built distance into it, until he was racing full field for a ball that would land somewhere near the fence line. NOTE: if you aren't good with a chuck-it or throwing in general, have someone else throw to start with. To many throws that land behind the dog or off to the side will have a negative effect on your send away, if the dog learns it at all. Once Ares was solid on the exercise with me, then I started handing off the chuck-it to club members that would stand 15-20 feet behind me, or come out from hiding after I had sent him, to wean him off seeing me holding the reward. The head checks you can see in the videos below were inadvertently introduced when we used a ball that whistled in flight. While he tries to run in a straight line, the head checks to listen better for the ball caused him to develop a minor zig zag.
Practicing the send away with Ares in 2015. I usually use a chuck-it, but Barry has an awesome arm 🙂