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Thread: Hillman e collar fetch?

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    Senior Member Jim Stevenson's Avatar
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    Default Hillman e collar fetch?

    I've got a pretty soft dog but he responds very well to light collar pressure. About 30-40% on my collar TT Basic is very tolerable to me. It was suggested that I use Hillman for force fetching and food rewards during the teaching process of hold since he's very food driven. Bumper in mouth for a couple of seconds, give, hotdog. Then sitting, hereing, and heeling while holding, tapping, and tugging a little. Now I've got his bowl of food in his open crate but won't let him have it until he holds while hereing, sitting, heeling, and giving a couple of times. He drops it occasionally but we start over. I've got him collar conditioned to sit, here, and heel. I have not started reinforcing fetch in the playful manner Hillman demonstrates, but he wants the bumper and jumps at it when told fetch.

    So his hold is far from perfect, and he's still dropping bumpers right at my feet on retrieves. Is it right to start reinforcing fetch with collar and maybe forgetting about the hold standard a little? The reason I ask, it seems that once he understands that 'fetch' is now a command that will be reinforced when not in compliance, when he drops it, can I not command fetch and then nick for reinforcement?

    I ear pinch ff'd a dog about a year ago and his hold was decent, but got much better after ear pinch. Kinda like Evan Graham calls sticky in that dog didn't really want to give up the bumper once he dropped it a few times and got ear pinched to ground to pick it up.

    Hope all of that made sense.

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    Senior Member T-Pines's Avatar
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    Purely from the perspective of my understanding of Hillmann's methods, I have inserted comments below ... as a starting point for further discussion if you are interested.

    Do you already have the Hillmann Fetch Command DVD ... or are you considering getting it based on someone's suggestion?


    Quote Originally Posted by copenhawgen View Post
    I've got a pretty soft dog but he responds very well to light collar pressure. About 30-40% on my collar TT Basic is very tolerable to me.
    "Tolerable" is not how Hillmann describes setting the intensity. His description is more like "barely perceptible". Some programs are explicitly geared toward conditioning a dog to tolerate higher collar intensities. Hillmann's program is not like that. In my experience, perceptible is much lower in intensity than tolerable.

    It was suggested that I use Hillman for force fetching and food rewards during the teaching process of hold since he's very food driven. Bumper in mouth for a couple of seconds, give, hotdog. Then sitting, hereing, and heeling while holding, tapping, and tugging a little. Now I've got his bowl of food in his open crate but won't let him have it until he holds while hereing, sitting, heeling, and giving a couple of times. He drops it occasionally but we start over.
    Use of food rewards in the yard or in the field doesn't necessarily go against Hillmann's principles for teaching basic skills, but I think you have to be very knowledgeable and skilled in treat delivery to do it correctly. For example, it is very important that you are teaching and reinforcing the pup's focus on you, not on the food. Secondly, food rewards as reinforcement for mouth behaviors could be a little more challenging. Thirdly, a fundamental of Hillmann's approach is to nurture the pup's natural drive and desire to chase. This is at ground zero of his program. This excitement for the chase is a more powerful and a more appropriate primary reinforcer for the yard and for the field than the use of food.

    Your last sentence (bolded) above is the right idea. Keep the attitude up and keep chipping away. No anger, no frustration, no harsh consequences.


    I've got him collar conditioned to sit, here, and heel. I have not started reinforcing fetch in the playful manner Hillman demonstrates, but he wants the bumper and jumps at it when told fetch.
    This sounds very good. Have you done any of the Hillmann Traffic Cop style releases for very short "retrieves"? This is extremely valuable as preparation for Hillmann's Fetch Command.

    When you begin teaching the fetch command in Hillmann's "playful manner", you need to do a pretty big number of repetitions reinforcing with praise before your pup is ready for reinforcement with the ecollar.


    So his hold is far from perfect, and he's still dropping bumpers right at my feet on retrieves.
    Don't make a big deal of it. Just keep chipping away. Keep it fun and keep the pup happy. Keep working on it but don't grind away at the hold command. Hillmann training sessions are a very dynamic mix of multiple skills and concepts, all while you maintain optimal energy and attitude by balancing obedience and excitement. Always fun.

    Is it right to start reinforcing fetch with collar and maybe forgetting about the hold standard a little? The reason I ask, it seems that once he understands that 'fetch' is now a command that will be reinforced when not in compliance, when he drops it, can I not command fetch and then nick for reinforcement?
    Of your entire post, I think this represents the greatest contradiction to Hillmann's philosophy.

    First, collar reinforcement comes after the pup has been taught to a high level of understanding and a reliable execution of the command. You may need to do 100 successful repetitions without collar reinforcement before you introduce ecollar reinforcement to a given command.

    Second, Hillmann uses a very light 'nick' to reinforce successful execution of a command, not to punish or correct for failure (noncompliance). When following Hillmann, if you are getting noncompliance (especially during the ecollar reinforcement phase) more than every once in a while, then you are doing something incorrectly.

    Third, as i said above, every training session is a dynamic mix of working on several skills and concepts. Don't relax your standards or forget about one thing while you work on something else. Keep working on and improving upon your standard on each skill while introducing or improving other skills according to the pup's abilities and your training progression.

    The Fetch Command DVD has a section devoted to the prerequisites for the Hold Command prior to teaching the Fetch Command. It doesn't have to be perfect, but the pup needs a good understanding of hold.


    Jim

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    Just an observation but you seem more reserved than your dog about the force fetch process. Sometimes the soft dogs are a lot easier to force fetch than the dogs that won't relent to pressure of any kind. It sounds to me like you are familiar with Evan's method of force fetch which IMO is very good and has worked for me with a wide variety of client dogs including some that were very soft dogs. It just seems that you are reluctant and I don't think you should be. Also, I would consider suspending your marking training while you are going through the process if your standards are eroding during sessions. This will make things more clear to the dog and you will get through the process much faster. FF doesn't have to be a high pressure endeavor.

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    Senior Member Jim Stevenson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Pines View Post
    Purely from the perspective of my understanding of Hillmann's methods, I have inserted comments below ... as a starting point for further discussion if you are interested.

    Do you already have the Hillmann Fetch Command DVD ... or are you considering getting it based on someone's suggestion?




    "Tolerable" is not how Hillmann describes setting the intensity. His description is more like "barely perceptible". Some programs are explicitly geared toward conditioning a dog to tolerate higher collar intensities. Hillmann's program is not like that. In my experience, perceptible is much lower in intensity than tolerable.



    Use of food rewards in the yard or in the field doesn't necessarily go against Hillmann's principles for teaching basic skills, but I think you have to be very knowledgeable and skilled in treat delivery to do it correctly. For example, it is very important that you are teaching and reinforcing the pup's focus on you, not on the food. Secondly, food rewards as reinforcement for mouth behaviors could be a little more challenging. Thirdly, a fundamental of Hillmann's approach is to nurture the pup's natural drive and desire to chase. This is at ground zero of his program. This excitement for the chase is a more powerful and a more appropriate primary reinforcer for the yard and for the field than the use of food.

    Your last sentence (bolded) above is the right idea. Keep the attitude up and keep chipping away. No anger, no frustration, no harsh consequences.




    This sounds very good. Have you done any of the Hillmann Traffic Cop style releases for very short "retrieves"? This is extremely valuable as preparation for Hillmann's Fetch Command.

    When you begin teaching the fetch command in Hillmann's "playful manner", you need to do a pretty big number of repetitions reinforcing with praise before your pup is ready for reinforcement with the ecollar.




    Don't make a big deal of it. Just keep chipping away. Keep it fun and keep the pup happy. Keep working on it but don't grind away at the hold command. Hillmann training sessions are a very dynamic mix of multiple skills and concepts, all while you maintain optimal energy and attitude by balancing obedience and excitement. Always fun.



    Of your entire post, I think this represents the greatest contradiction to Hillmann's philosophy.

    First, collar reinforcement comes after the pup has been taught to a high level of understanding and a reliable execution of the command. You may need to do 100 successful repetitions without collar reinforcement before you introduce ecollar reinforcement to a given command.

    Second, Hillmann uses a very light 'nick' to reinforce successful execution of a command, not to punish or correct for failure (noncompliance). When following Hillmann, if you are getting noncompliance (especially during the ecollar reinforcement phase) more than every once in a while, then you are doing something incorrectly.

    Third, as i said above, every training session is a dynamic mix of working on several skills and concepts. Don't relax your standards or forget about one thing while you work on something else. Keep working on and improving upon your standard on each skill while introducing or improving other skills according to the pup's abilities and your training progression.

    The Fetch Command DVD has a section devoted to the prerequisites for the Hold Command prior to teaching the Fetch Command. It doesn't have to be perfect, but the pup needs a good understanding of hold.


    Jim
    Thanks a lot Jim for your very detailed response.

    Yes, I do have the Hillman DVD on e collar fetch. What I mean when I say tolerable is that through the conditioning response, when I nicked on level 2 of 5 on my collar, I got undivided perfect attention. I only stayed on 2 for 3 nicks, threw some fun bumpers, and wrapped up conditioning sessions on 1.5.

    On food rewards for holding, I never considered it until I talked to his breeder. The first couple of sessions were awkward, but over the last 10 days or so, we've made significant progress. When we started the hold process, it was all avoidance and he'd lay down under my knees while I was sitting on the bucket. I decided to kick the bucket and we moved to my truck tailgate so he has to put his paws up with a bowl of cut up hotdog in plain view. Put bumper in mouth, command hold, command give, and take bumper with one hand as treat comes from the other. When we got to the point that I could pull bumper while commanding hold and he was still holding, we got on the ground and started moving. The dog bowl of food in the crate has been the best motivator though. Holding while sitting, hereing, heeling, tugging, and finally giving all while he's looking at breakfast or supper is a thing of beauty to watch. Until he drops it. I then shut the door to his crate and you can read the dejection in his face and eyes. And we start over. Two perfect sequences tonite.

    On your second point at the bottom where you say I'm in contradiction to Hillman's method, maybe this is where I'm not understanding reinforcement. To me, once the command has been taught and he has demonstrated that he understands, collar reinforcement should make it 100% whether hungry, tired, cold, sick, in the face of distractions...etc. Right now we are still at fetch from hand so he has to lunge for it or a couple of bumpers on either side of him with hand signal to desired bumper with fetch command. No probs there. But he still doesn't want to hold???? I'll say here and he drops bumper even while I'm commanding hold.

    What I'd like to be able to do after reinforcing fetch with collar is command fetch then nick so that he has to pick up bumper that he dropped and then hold til commanded to give. That way it's no big deal if HE drops it because HE will have to pick it back up.

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    Senior Member Jim Stevenson's Avatar
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    Thanks Tony for your input. I like Smartfetch. It is completely logical to me. This dog just doesn't respond to physical reprimands in a positive manner. He's growing out of some of it, but it's in his DNA. Swatting him on the butt while saying no was a big deal for him when he was little. I sensed then that he was a little soft. It was almost as if his feelings got hurt. He doesn't respond well with choke chain for instance, light tugs on it will start shutting him down. So I put the choker up and tugged on regular collar a few time and moved straight to e collar. I did also use Graham's method of continuous with some restraint just so he was absolutely clear on how to turn pressure off. 4 here's and that was it for that session. After that, it was remote sits and here nick here, then some fun bumpers that he'd drop at my feet.

    As for marker training, we haven't done much as he's only 6 mos old, and it's basically been suspended due to hot weather. I'd like to get thru force fetch and single t by end of summer so when it does cool off, we can really hit the ground running.

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    Senior Member kcrumpy9's Avatar
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    Copenhawgen- A few questions for you. 1. Has he ever brought the bumper back and not dropped it? If so do you immediately grab the bumper from him? 2. What do you do when he drops it at your feet?

    IMO rather than marks for him, I would get him out on his lead and make him Heel with the bumper in mouth. You don't have to walk far maybe 15-20 feet. If he drops it give a slight ear pinch and pick it up allowing him to get it back in his mouth. Then give it a slight tap on the sides to insure proper grip and go finish walking. When you're at the end have him sit and hold the bumper for about 10-15 seconds before you take it from him.

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    Senior Member T-Pines's Avatar
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    Copenhawgen,

    Re-reading your OP and your follow-ups, I can see that my response wasn't what you were looking for. I think you are attracted to some element of the Hillmann approach that you feel will fit well with your pup's "problem" -- but I can clearly see that you are not seeking to follow a comprehensive Hillmann approach.

    So, it falls on you to make sure that each progression of your training regimen has a clear and consistent connection to your baseline training and conditioning.

    You refer to your dog as soft. You might consider that your dog's response has less to do with physical pressure and has more to do with emotional pressure. Some dogs fall to pieces when they are being "told" that they are doing wrong and they are confused about what is right. They want to do the right thing, but don't know what that is. They stop thinking and stop trying to find the "right" behavior -- instead, they freeze up or go into an avoidance mode. These dogs need to be patiently and gently shown what you want them to do. Small progress needs to be richly rewarded and mistakes need to be prevented as best possible, but not punished.

    Quote Originally Posted by copenhawgen View Post
    On your second point at the bottom where you say I'm in contradiction to Hillman's method, maybe this is where I'm not understanding reinforcement. To me, once the command has been taught and he has demonstrated that he understands, collar reinforcement should make it 100% whether hungry, tired, cold, sick, in the face of distractions...etc. Right now we are still at fetch from hand so he has to lunge for it or a couple of bumpers on either side of him with hand signal to desired bumper with fetch command. No probs there. But he still doesn't want to hold???? I'll say here and he drops bumper even while I'm commanding hold.

    What I'd like to be able to do after reinforcing fetch with collar is command fetch then nick so that he has to pick up bumper that he dropped and then hold til commanded to give. That way it's no big deal if HE drops it because HE will have to pick it back up.
    As to your actual question (finally). I think you are asking whether indirect pressure on the "hold" command through direct pressure on the "fetch" command is a good solution to the problem you are having. What is your philosophy on the application of indirect pressure?

    My philosophy on IP is that I would apply it in situations meeting the following criteria:
    • dog has been previously and thoroughly taught the command/concept
    • dog has previously demonstrated high level of understanding
    • I am being clear about what I want the dog to do
    • I'm not asking for too much of a leap in complexity (it is fair to expect the dog to understand the command in this context)


    Jim

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    Senior Member Jim Stevenson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Pines View Post
    Copenhawgen,

    Re-reading your OP and your follow-ups, I can see that my response wasn't what you were looking for. I think you are attracted to some element of the Hillmann approach that you feel will fit well with your pup's "problem" -- but I can clearly see that you are not seeking to follow a comprehensive Hillmann approach.

    So, it falls on you to make sure that each progression of your training regimen has a clear and consistent connection to your baseline training and conditioning.

    You refer to your dog as soft. You might consider that your dog's response has less to do with physical pressure and has more to do with emotional pressure. Some dogs fall to pieces when they are being "told" that they are doing wrong and they are confused about what is right. They want to do the right thing, but don't know what that is. They stop thinking and stop trying to find the "right" behavior -- instead, they freeze up or go into an avoidance mode. These dogs need to be patiently and gently shown what you want them to do. Small progress needs to be richly rewarded and mistakes need to be prevented as best possible, but not punished.



    As to your actual question (finally). I think you are asking whether indirect pressure on the "hold" command through direct pressure on the "fetch" command is a good solution to the problem you are having. What is your philosophy on the application of indirect pressure?

    My philosophy on IP is that I would apply it in situations meeting the following criteria:
    • dog has been previously and thoroughly taught the command/concept
    • dog has previously demonstrated high level of understanding
    • I am being clear about what I want the dog to do
    • I'm not asking for too much of a leap in complexity (it is fair to expect the dog to understand the command in this context)


    Jim
    That's it Jim. Indirect on "hold" through direct pressure on "fetch" command. Last nite I crated him 3 x's for about 5 minutes per without supper because he wouldn't hold while hereing, heeling, sitting. On the 4th try I got the paint roller back out and sit, fetch, here then heel, sit, give 3 x's perfectly. He knows what he's supposed to do but fails to see the point. I don't fault him for that as I can just barely see the point. He was tired and hot after having played fetch w/ fun bumpers for about 15 minutes prior. However, being hot and tired didn't stop him from eating his food in record time.

    This afternoon he comes running up to me with a perfect hold on a plastic mountain dew 16 oz bottle. He brought it right to me holding all the way and gave it up when told give. Then several minutes of fun fetch with the bottle ensued. I'm now saving plastic bottles.

    Anyway, we are going to continue to work on hold but I didn't want to not work on fetch until hold was perfect. I think, based on what I've seen so far, perfecting fetch will be relatively easy. Also, I think his hold is getting better as his fetch is becoming more dependable or reliable. I've even started applying light ear pressure in the field running bucket blinds when he drops bumper at feet.

    Lastly, thanks to your response, I think I understand my dog much better now. I would say that he'd get his feelings hurt, but now I think it's more about him not being confident in what I'm asking him to do. Clarity equals confidence. It's my fault for not providing clarity and the main reason I was unsure about the use of direct pressure on fetch.

    Thanks again for your time and input. I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

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    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    Do everything you can to avoid him dropping the bumper for now. Have him fetch with or without e-collar re-enforcement and then get it back before he drops it.

    Once he shows a good understanding of fetching off the ground with collar re-enforcement...

    When he drops the bumper turn the collar on and command fetch, releasing when he picks the bumper back up.

    This is positive punishment of the undesirable behavior (dropping) and negative re-enforcement of the desirable one (bumper in mouth).

    I took the last dog I did into pile work with some dropping issues and by the time we got out of FTP she had become reliable using the above method.

    For what it's worth I never say hold to a dog only fetch. Fetch means get it in your mouth and keep it there.
    Darrin Greene

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    [QUOTE=copenhawgen;1116569] He knows what he's supposed to do but fails to see the point. I don't fault him for that as I can just barely see the point. QUOTE]

    The point is that if you don't get hold down pat then you have to cloud the issue later on with pressure that you don't have to give. Your low pressure dog is a prime example. If later on when you are doing other drills like walking fetch or FTP you want to only use pressure for the point that you are trying to get across. A dog like that will shut down in a heartbeat if the session goes; here nick, heel nick, sit nick, fetch nick....you get the point. You should be giving pressure for one thing and one thing only (if possible. Obviously don't let the standard deteriorate.) and that is what you are working on so as to make it clear in the dogs mind and not cloud the issue with unnecessary corrections.

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