This is Trooper's calm face.  Here he is pictured munching on a stick in the front yard.  He definitely appreciates when he can just lie down and take it easy. 

So, his retrieval training is going interestingly.  I think I'm going to withhold major training until we start classes, because I don't want to reinforce his behavior lately.  He has good instincts -- he'll retrieve the ball/toy, and if left to his own devices will just carry it off to go lie down and have a good chew.  When I work with him actively though, I've been using morsels of treats for rewards.  His latest little behavior means he will go straight to the ball, turn back towards me and start to run, drop the ball, and then continue running back to me.  After he did this twice, I stopped the training session as I didn't want to be reward the ball-dropping behavior, which I may have started doing.  I think I might try shorter distances (only 2-3 feet, rather than the 8-10 feet I was throwing at) and see if that helps.  I definitely want to encourage his instincts, but don't want to see him retrieve it only to drop it a minute later before fully returning it.

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