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Thread: Help - weak/loose hold

  1. #1
    Junior Member Jozensg's Avatar
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    Default Help - weak/loose hold

    OK - I've been working with both of my dogs, Copper 2yr YLM and Cassy 18mo CLF, on hold for several weeks now as a precursor to FF (in seperate training sessions). Both of them have the concept and hold a FF buck or a plastic bumper when given the "fetch" command. Then I tell them to hold each of them will close there mouth just enough for it to remain loosely in their grasp. They are even walking with it and will returning to a sit position while keeping it in there mouth. But they don't have a positive grasp of the retrieving dummy. Since it's both dogs I'm betting I'M doing something wrong or missed something.
    THE PROBLEM IS they both have such soft mouths that the bumper can be knocked out when heeling, even if they just brush my leg. Also they are anticipating my "leave it" and releasing any grip they have on the bumper.
    How do I get them to grasp the retrieving dummy... I want a positive hold; not something that falls out while they are being trained. (Both dogs keep a great hold on the ummy when send on a fun bumper or a marked retrieve, but they don't always hold the dummy until commanded to "leave it")

    Any suggestions?
    Thanx,
    George
    Copper isn't just a color!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ken Bora's Avatar
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    Hello George and welcome to RTF,
    I would, at this early stage rethink you release command. Having them release whatever they are carrying on "leave it" means you can never say leave it while your dog is retrieving. Say dog is coming back with a duck and wants to sniff a dead carp on the bank. I am not a big fan of drop ether. Saw a woman in the gallery with a shrill voice cause her dog, being run by the husband, drop a bird feet from him at an AKC junior hunt test one time. When I want the bird from my dog I say Release. Give is also a good one. A Great, now deceased, tailless Chesapeake names Wilbur, who was my clubs dog of the year more than once would only release if the handler said please. He was a fun dog to watch run. Anyway, while teaching hold, you know you got it when you can tap/slap/cuff the item and the dog does not drop it.
    KNB
    "So what is big is not always the Trout nor the Deer but the chance, the being there. And what is full is not necessarily the creel nor the freezer, but the memory." ~ Aldo Leopold

    "The Greatest Obstacle to Discovery is not Ignorance -- It is the Illusion of Knowledge" ~ Daniel Boorstin

  3. #3
    Junior Member Jozensg's Avatar
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    I like please! Now to make sure they hold the dummy (no, not me!) I'll keep working them and get right before I go on to FF.
    Thanx,
    George
    Copper isn't just a color!

  4. #4
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    If you are working on hold you should consider using the "hold" command. It sounds like you are using "fetch". I would reserve the command "fetch" for the forcing process so that after you teach "fetch" you can then still command and require "hold". I also agree that "leave it" may get you into trouble later. I use "give" as a release.

    On the issue of a sloppy or loose hold, some dogs, in my limited experience, just seem more predisposed to a sloppy hold than others. A couple things to try for these dogs are: 1) use a larger bumper for hold, and 2) add weight to the current object and give positive enforcement (this can work well). Once you get things so the dog is holding well enough to go through heeling drills and distractions move on to force fetch. Force fetch can further instill the hold command.

    If you have already spent "several weeks" on hold and you have not yet moved on, you may want to find a more experienced trainer to help with this right now. You may be doing something that is confusing the dog and you need that straightened out asap.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dirtyrice's Avatar
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    I am not a pro, but when working on my dog's hold, I simply reached up and tapped on the end of the bumper that protruded the most. The object is to try and tap it out of their mouth. The second the bumper falls to the ground give them a tap under the chin in unison with a "no", followed by replacing the bumper in their mouth and the hold command. It helps if you catch them offguard then they are not as reactive to having your hand close but instead try and maintain a firm hold all the time. Again, I am no pro, however a close friend who is a pro suggested and employs this technique on his dogs.

  6. #6
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    Sounds to me like they know the hold command but don't do it relaibly/well enough. What you lack right now is a good way to enforce the command. I would go foward with FF. You will be encouraging "hold" while you do that anyway. Once you're through FF, if the sloppy hold persists, knock the bumper out of their mouth, get the ear, and FETCH! Done consistently and quickly, they'll learn quickly that they need to hold onto that sucker. You can also do it with the collar if you CC. Timing is very important when enforcing the fetch once it's knocked out; goota be right on it.

    Ultimately, you should not be able to knock or pull a bumper from your dog until you give the release command. As an aside, as a tester drill, I like to sit the dog and give them a bumper. I say HOLD and pull the bumper by the rope. The dog has to remain at SIT and HOLD the bumper. As you pull harder you can see the stress start to build in the dog as he does not want to release or to get up. That's a dog that really gets it. You stop there and pile on the praise. I usually follow it up with a free bird because it is really a little bit of an unfair stressor/tester drill. It's cool and it works, though.
    "it all starts with sit" -- me

  7. #7
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    Be careful with all that knocking the bumper out of the dog's mouth intentionally. I did a bit too much of that and now I have a pup who I believe tries to turn his head because he's nervous I will knock the bumper out and then correct for it.
    Darrin Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrinGreene View Post
    Be careful with all that knocking the bumper out of the dog's mouth intentionally. I did a bit too much of that and now I have a pup who I believe tries to turn his head because he's nervous I will knock the bumper out and then correct for it.
    That's good advice and sometimes I think things like that are obvious when they are not so I'm glad you added that.

    Knocking the bumper out OCCASSIONALLY AND UNEXPECTANTLY will help fix a sloppy hold as they will learn that they do not want it to happen. If you hit him every time (or enough that he thinks it's coming every time), suprise suprise he'll start to flinch when he comes back or stop coming back altogether. The second you see that, you recognize that you're over doing it and back off on that .......................... unless you think he's just playing you and trying to avoid the pressure, then you do it anyway. That is what you call reading your dog and reading your dog is what dog training is all about.

    I'm sure you have stopped knocking the bumper out of your pup's mouth. Take the hold he has for now and give lots of encouragement for a good hold. Stay away from his head as much as possible. Eventually you can go back to the occassional knock out. Either that, or just grab him by the ear/knock him around and make him do it right now. You gotta read him and make that call. How old's the pup?
    "it all starts with sit" -- me

  9. #9
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    ZN, my guy is 10 monthe this weekend.

    We dida lot of hold ork andhad a very solid grasp on the concept + very good compliance going into FF.

    We have been working on FF a good solid hold actally got sloppy as we went a long. He was bit flinchy going into it, but not too terrible. I didn't correct the habit as I should have before I really started pouring the pressure on. He takes a bit of convincing from time to time, this guy... This is where the issue I'm correcting for now started, and I didnt' realize what potential it had.

    As we progressed in FF I noticed that when he felt pressureized and or didn't want to work anymore, he would get very sloppy with his hold and occassionally drop the bumper. Once I had the ear pinch in place that was quite easy to correct, and it is where I got most of my major refusals out of him. His hold is back now but he seems to want to turn away in anticipation of the next repetition.

    I'm lucky here BTW because he could be freezing instead. We had a touch of that and recognizing the potential of that problem, it was immediately corrected (in a fairly severe manner when he was still very impressionable). So he knows give means give...

    At this point I think the turn of the head is just one of his behaviors for avoiding the next fetch and potential for pressure associated with that action. I have taken to simply reaching over his head to stop him turning away, and correcting with the pinch collar if he attempts to drop his head. He is still trying but it is getting better.

    We just began CC for fetch and I believe that as we go along and he gets pressure on more of an intermittant basis, he will quit all this garbage. He doesn't do it when we're doing marks (no pressure has been applied yet for anything on his marks). I believe that once he completelty understands his obligation and how to avoid/turn off the pressure fully, he will calm down and evrything will be OK. Right now he has (understandably) some apprehension about certain things because they are relatively new to him.

    I am watching very closely though and correcting for it now so it doesn't turn into a major problem or end up with him freezing on me down the road.

    It all started, and I know it all started, with me whacking the bumper out of his mouth too much. I got a temprory solution out of that (good hold) but it reared it's ugly head later in the program and now I realize where the bahvior stems from.

    I don't think I have a massive problem here but it sure does make FF sessions more frustrating and obviously more stressful on the dog for me to have to correct that habit AND teach the concept.

    SO... if I had it to do over again I would be more careful teaching hold.

    I got this advice, but a bit too late.

    I hope my observation and logic help someone to avoid that issue for themselves.

    I'm working on my first dog through a real program from puppyhood. I don't know it all. In fact I only know a little, and enough to get myself into trouble if I'm not very careful!

    So like I said, I hope my observation helps someone else.
    Darrin Greene

  10. #10
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    Darrin,
    It sounds like your on top of things with your pup and are doing a great job reading your dog--something I almost always refer to because I think it's the most important part of training and ignored more than the national debt.

    As a rule, and I think you would agree now, I would not knock a bumper out of a dogs mouth until FF is complete. Knocking it out and FORCING him to pick it back up is part of the cure to a sloppy hold. Simply knocking it out accomplishes little.
    "it all starts with sit" -- me

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