In books that I have read, they say play bumpers or fun bumpers should be just that, fun. If the dog is not a finished retriever, don't put all kinds of obedience commands in there. Just let the dog go get the bumper and bring it back with lots of enthusiasm from both of you. You should let the dog know that it's play time somehow. I say ok ok ok and then I'll throw the bumper.
My dog can tell by my attitude and how I throw a bumper whether its play or work. I personally use the same bumpers. When I work I will line him up on the retrieve, then release him. After about 10 minutes of working I say, OK and I grab a bumper and toss it. He just seems to know when its time to work and when its time to play...
I agree with 98 you atittude has alot to do with it when I am working retrieving with my pup she knows that she is working because she only gets to go and get the bumper when I release her, when we are playing i tease her with it and let her break on her own. I throw "happy bumpers" before and after each training session. I do this even if I am not going to work retrieving that session I think it helps her get into the right state of mind and ready to work. good luck
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