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Thread: End of my rope with retrieving problem...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Obabikon's Avatar
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    Default End of my rope with retrieving problem...

    Iíve read through most of the threads on this forum and am so impressed by all of your expertise (Iím so glad I found this site!). With that said, Iím hoping you can help me (a novice trainer at best) through the problem Iím having with my 1 Ĺ-year-old male Lab.

    Long story short, I just CANíT get him to consistently, reliably retrieve anything in a controlled manner, and itís a huge roadblock for us to move ahead into any other aspect of training.

    Donít get me wrong, heís often flawlessóIíll throw the dummy and heíll stay at heel. Then Iíll send him and heíll charge out, grab the bumper smack dab in the middle and race back to my left side, where he spins a 180 and sits, holding the dummy perfectly until I tell him to release it. The exact routine is a learned behavior, and he seems to clearly understand that this is what I want him to do when I say ďfetch.Ē

    The problem is that 70 to 80 percent of the time that DOESNíT happen. Often heíll run past me as he returns with the dummy in his mouth, then circle around me a few times. Other times heíll get a foot or two away from me and then drop the dummy and start playing with it. And still other times heíll grab the bumper by the rope and just go crazy, playing with the dummy the entire timeóeven running away with it on rare occasions. The list goes onÖ.

    And regardless of the specific misbehaviorís nature, the dog is simply unreachable at those moments. No command, no potential reward and no correction can snap him out of it and reign him back in once heís started.

    Iíve tried all the conventional training methods to fix thisóas well as a few unconventional onesóand nothing has worked. And in the process Iím afraid Iíve made the problem worse by confusing the poor guy.

    From my admittedly uninformed perspective, it seems like there are a few things at work:

    1. Although my dog knows what I want him to do, heís so overcome by the excitement of the dummy and retrieve that heís often unable to help himself. The distraction level of the bumper trumps the command.
    2. He doesnít seem to make the connection that if he retrieves properly heíll be rewarded. Partly, Iím guessing thatís because he does it right so rarely in the first place, and so I hardly ever get to reward him. Thus he never sees the pattern.
    3. Along those lines, perhaps my reward (usually praise, treat or another retrieve) isnít enough to get him to follow the command???

    So where do I go next? I feel like Iím over a barrel here. The more I attempt to fix the problem, the more he ultimately continues to misbehave on retrieves, which I imagine is essentially TRAINING him to misbehave more in the future.

    The less I work with him, however, the faster he seems to lose his grasp on what little he knows about making proper retrieves.

    Where do I go from here????

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for any advice!

    Ryan

  2. #2
    Senior Member badbullgator's Avatar
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    Sounds like he is running the show. More information may help

    1) Did you force fetch him
    2) do you use an e-collar and has he been conditioned

    A check cord shold be on this dog until you work the problem out
    Views and opinions expressed herein by Badbullgator do not necessarily represent the policies or position of RTF. RTF and all of it's subsidiaries can not be held liable for the off centered humor and politically incorrect comments of the author.
    Corey Burke

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ken Bora's Avatar
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    Welcome to RTF Obabkon, have you joined a retriever club yet?
    "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

  4. #4
    Senior Member Obabikon's Avatar
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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the fast response!

    To answer your questions, I've attempted force fetch with him, but got nowhere with it. First, the dog was so freaked out by the whole process that I couldn't get him to do anything. All he did was try to lie down. I had him tethered so he couldn't do this, but that didn't stop him....all he did was basically hang himself. He wanted nothing to do with the wooden buck and didn't respond to an ear or toe pinch.

    If I had some experience force-fetching dogs, I might have stuck with it, but considering my inexperience and lack of confidence I bailed. I figured I was risking too much by continuing.

    I do have and use an e-collar with him. That's worked very well with general obedience, whistle sits, etc.

    As for a check cord, I've used one--A LOT. But whenever I think he's got it, I take it off, throw a dummy, and he reverts to his old ways. Plus, a cord has been so hard to use on retrieves...the dog gets so tangled up in it running to the dummy and back that I've been afraid that he thinks he's being punished for fetching. Any tips for dealing with that???

    As for joining a retriever club, no I haven't joined one, and I don't know of any in my area.

    Thanks

    Ryan

  5. #5
    Senior Member Obabikon's Avatar
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    Oh, almost forgot....although I didn't force-fetch train my pup, I did take a namby-pamby route of basically "treating" him through the same process. In other words, I initially held the buck in front of him, and when he grabbed it, I gave him a treat. From there I progressed through the entire traditional force fetch process--only rather than relieving pressure when he did the desired behavior, I gave him a treat.

    The process definitely taught him the desired behavior....the problem is that he doesn't seem to be compelled to obey it.

  6. #6
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    You are in a great location to get good pro help. the longer you wait the harder this behavior will be to correct. OB & FF through walking fetch is where I would ask a pro to start. So find a good yound dog trainer to help you.
    David Didier, GA

  7. #7
    Senior Member Don Smith's Avatar
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    Looks like you want to train him yourself rather than send him to a pro. That's fine, but I agree with badbullgator -- it looks like he's running the show. I didn't see a reference to a training program. That's what you need. I'd suggest either Mike Lardy's Total Retriever material, available at www.totalretriever.com or www.ybsmedia.com or Evan Graham's SmartWork program, available at www.rushcreekpress.com . As mentioned, joining a retriever club can be very beneficial. You may be able to find one in your area by checking on Entryexpress.net or on the AKC website (for upcoming events). You can find HRC clubs on the United Kennel Club website.

    Best of luck.
    HRCH Meglyn's Maramaxx Daisycutter MH (Daisy)
    SHR Meglyn's Eye on the Prize JH (Molly)
    Meglyn's Timbrhuntn ValleyGirl (Lilly)
    Meglyn's Prime Time to Leave Me Lucille SH (Lucy)
    Meglyn's Lionheart MH (Little Guy)
    Meglyn-Firemark's I am NOT a Lab SH (Goldie)
    Meglyn's Lil Miss Sureshot (Annie)
    In memory of Chevy, HR Meglyn's Silverado Slim SH, July 20, 2006, HR Meglyn's Blue Ridge Belle MH, July 19, 2008 and HRCH Meglyn's Honest Abe MH, Aug 9, 2014.

    www.meglynretrievers.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member badbullgator's Avatar
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    FF, FF, FF, FF........ it is about far more than just fetching and holding. Do some searches on here and read the threads. It sounds like you need to get a program if you want to do it yourself. Don posted good links above. Find a program you like (Lardy, Farmer, Evan...) and stick with it. Each step of the training process builds the platform for the next step and you cannot jump ahead you need a soild platform to build on and it starts first with OB and then FF!
    DO it soon or your problems will get worse. A good club can hook you up with people that can help you along the way. Training a good retriever is no easy task and even harder if it is your first retriever.
    Good luck
    Views and opinions expressed herein by Badbullgator do not necessarily represent the policies or position of RTF. RTF and all of it's subsidiaries can not be held liable for the off centered humor and politically incorrect comments of the author.
    Corey Burke

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ken Bora's Avatar
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    At the dogs afield banner at the top of the page, click and open the 2009 list of events. Spending just a minute on that list I glanced at these retriever clubs in Mn.
    Land O lakes
    Duluth
    Central Mn.
    Iron Range
    West Central
    Mississippi Headwaters

    A couple events are in the next few weeks.
    "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

  10. #10
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    as a fellow guy who wanted to do it myself ill tell you what helped me to get truogh the ff process. first of all watching the movies and reading the books is a good way to start, but can be misleading, for example, it can take a month or more to get the job done. I advise that you find a training group of experienced people, it really helped me to have some one show me how to go about starting the ff process and to be able to ask some one questions. and second. ff is not somthing you can rush through. like I said, it can take a month or more to get the desired result when it comes to force fetch, so find a program and follow it and take your time, when you are done it will be worth the time and frustration that goes into it.
    jim

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