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  1. #1

    Question FIRST TIME TRAINER...FAQs....

    As a newbie trainer...I have to first say I love this forum! I no longer feel like I'm the first person to lock eyes with my pup and feel like saying "...I don't know, what do you want to do next?"* We are figuring it out together and I am always amazed at how smart my boy is despite my inexperience as a trainer!* Us newbies (or, at least - me, myself & I) have SO many questions... This is the most challenging - most addictive - thing I have ever done! And I am loving EVERY* (or almost every) minute of it!!* But, there are those questions.... SO - here's my first question: HOW do I -teach/stop/convey/stop - my boy "Cooper" from stopping just short of the bank on water retrieves to shake off?* He sometimes drops the dummy/bird to do this, but immediately picks it back up after shaking and delivers to hand.* Other times, he'll hold and shake off, then deliver to hand....* No e-collar training yet.* Used a check-cord... Advice appreciated!bhelton

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  3. #2
    Senior Member FOM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Falcon, CO


    Simplify the task.....

    Meet him at the water's edge. Do not give him the option to drop the bird/bumper to shake. This may mean even stepping into the water (hip boots). Then slowly back from the water's edge and increase the difficulty of the task.

    Hope that helps...


  4. #3
    Senior Member dalecindy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Silver Springs, FL


    How old is the dog? Have you ff yet? If the dog has it's permanent teethe in, and you have not ff yet, that would be my first step. After that it is a matter of not allowing it to happen. It it is a young dog, I'd be right there to receive as soon as the dog gets out. Could also try running backwards after you have established the give to me, do not drop idea. They tend to want to chase after you, but be ready to receive quickly.

    HRCH Missy SH

  5. #4


    He's nine months old - but was almost six months old before I began really working with him (not because I am of the school of thought that a dog/pup needs to be that age before beginning, as some trainers I've met believe, but because it took me that long to get the nerve to try training him).

    Two nights ago, I actually did stand at the edge of the water/in water a couple of inches and he didn't 'shake off' quite as often. So I'm hoping to build on this... He has always loved the water, but never liked getting water in his ears - which is why I think he wants to shake immediately?

    Except for being a butthead every once in a while, his obedience is strong and I recently began ff. I didn't think it was going to go too smoothly - as I first tried the ear pinch method which accomplished nothing I wanted. That's when I decided to see if I could take an easier road and build on what he had been doing already. Let me back up for a second and say that he has always been exceptionally good at 'fetch it up' - no matter where the dummy/bird lay - and when he'd bring it to me and drop it at my feet, I made him pick it up (with the 'fetch it up' command) and stick it in my hand until I took it. This was purely accidental training. So ff has gone really, really well and teaching him to "hold" was a snap. (I give all the credit to the dog! He's really a smart guy!)

    I'm thinking about running him in his first started hunt test tomorrow - but not sure if he's ready? Would/will the judge(s) mark off for him stopping and shaking off before delivering to hand? Also - can he deliver to hand, then be told to heel? I made the mistake of not enforcing him heeling with dummy/bird in mouth at the beginning. He'd deliver to hand and then I'd 'heel' him. Now, I'm having to work on correcting the habit I created...

    Brandi (Cooper's Mom)

  6. #5
    Senior Member FOM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Falcon, CO



    I would HIGHLY recommend not running him, I know, I know some people will say go for it but from experience - HTs teach bad habits, so you must choose your poison....

    No started judges will not mark you down if he drops the bird, shakes and then picks it back up.....I would recommend if he does this, to keep your nerves in check and not issue a ton of commands you know he is not going to listen to. Try to keephim from dropping the bird, but if he does, just wait for him to shake and then tell him to fetch it up - but to stand there and repeat the comman over and over again is not a good thing and could possibly get you scored down....

    Yes you can take the bird first and then make him heel.....

    Just remember a dog who is perfoming at 100% in training may not perform 100% at a test.....good luck.


  7. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006


    You said that you tried the ear pinch method but that didn't work. What method are you using? FF is about pressure and a dog learning how to get out of that pressure. That pressure can be ear pinch, toe hitch, etc. But there needs to be some kind of pressure that gets turned off when you get the desired result. Once this is established I would then transfer that pressure to the collar. Once that is going smoothly I would transfer from a dummy (or whatever your using) to birds. Once that is going smoothly you have taught your dog how to get out of the pressure you put on him for an undesirable response (such as dropping the bird when getting out of the water, while taking a crap, at heel, etc). Then when your dog comes out of the water and sets the bird down you can say firmly "fetch it up" and apply pressure (collar continuous). He/she will know how to get out of that pressure by picking the bird up (release pressure) and bring it to you.

    I personally wouldn't test your dog until you are ready for the Senior/seasoned level. With a good dog you probably will get ribbons regardless. But this will only reward you for bad behavior. Keep training. Have fun. And remember nothing is ever taught at a tria/testl except bad habits. My .02
    Jason Brion

    HRCH Brion's Zoey MH QAA
    HR Ruff River's Black Magic Marker MH QAA
    HRCH JLB Rough's Roman Goddess MH QAA
    HR JLB Steady As A Rock MH

  8. #7
    Senior Member Buzz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Brookings, South Dakota


    Are you following a training program?
    "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." -- Luke 12:48

    Raven - Moneybird's Black Magic Marker***
    (Esprit's Power Play x Trumarc's Lean Cuisine)
    Mick - Moneybird's Jumpin' Jack Flash***
    (Clubmead's Road Warrior x Oakdale Whitewater Devil Dog)
    Peerless - Moneybird's Sole Survivor
    (Two River's Lucky Willie x Moneybird's Black Magic Marker)

  9. #8
    Senior Member BHB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Northern California


    A pro told me once that a dog that stops and drops the bird or shakes/relieves himself is a dog that doesn't know the "here" command yet. I had asked him a question about my dog mouthing bumpers as he came back.

    I CC'd him to "here" ("here, nick, here")(he'd already been FF'd) and the problem was solved. He is now concentrating on "here"(getting back to me fast) and not on mouthing before he delivers to hand. After this it was just building on that that corrected all the other stuff like shaking, "airing", etc. or any other distraction from the job to be done. This worked for me.


  10. #9


    I'm all about listening to experience - so I may not run him now. I want to make sure to not put too much on him - or me - too soon!

    Yes, I am following a program of sorts - a combination of Wolters' methods and the 10-minute retriever method. I am taking each step - but also really paying attention to how Cooper responds to each. I think part of the training method has to dog-specific. (My husband has a 2 yr old blm started dog and they continue to work with the trainer. I decided to train Cooper myself because 1) I really wanted to learn and be the one to train him, and 2) because after watching the trainer work his dogs - I felt like something was missing in his training.. The one-on-one personal bond with the dog).

    Albeit by unconventional method, Cooper is ff. Maybe he is that one in a million dog and I've been incredibly lucky, but this dog responds incredibly to positive reinforcement from me. So, using his personality, I was able to ff him by withholding praise/positive reinforcement. His 'pressure' - and need for relief thereof - was no positive reaction from me until he was steady and consistent. He has such a desire to please, it worked beautifully. Now, I know some will disagree and say there is no way he is ffd from this... However, there is no distinction between Cooper and my husband's dog with regard to ff. His dog was ffd by a pro-trainer using the standard method(s) of physical pressure/lack thereof - and further conditioned by e-collar. You truly see no differences...

    I know I must seem really naive, but this dog is making it so easy for me... Other than the shaking, he meets all the challenges of each new step with amazing ease. I sometimes wonder if they will be a limit to what he can learn... I have to correct myself more than him! We just take it a step at a time and learn as a team. When he tries to 'cheat' (my term for when he chooses to be hard-headed or refusing to do it "my" way), I take a step back until he progresses without cheating. He's doing singles, doubles, even triples - in cover and not - following a good line. With every step/lesson taught, I go back over the previous stuff to reinforce.

    Am I missing something? If he does all that he's asked/taught/instructed - does so consistently - and continues to prove himself by executing, is there something else I need to be doing??

    " What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are."
    Tony Robbins

  11. #10
    Senior Member Howard N's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Anchorage, AK


    Am I missing something? If he does all that he's asked/taught/instructed - does so consistently - and continues to prove himself by executing, is there something else I need to be doing??
    You might be missing something. I haven't seen you train and I haven't seen your dog. Usually, the place where the wheels will fall off an unforced dog will be on running blinds and obedience at a hunt test. Most unforced dog will cheat water and cover too, but some (many) are pretty good at marking. If he stays pretty obedient at a test and runs blinds taking your casts away from suction to the blind then you aren't missing much.
    Howard Niemi

    You really gotta be careful about how high a pedestal you put your method, your accomplishments, your dog on. There's usually someone who's done more, somewhere. And they may have used a different method than you did! Chris Atkinson 2013

    get your dog out and TRAIN! caryalsobrook 2013

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