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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 4.5 yr. old BLM Rocky was re-homed to me 2.5 years ago. He came with a lot of baggage. We have done obedience classes (he earned his CGC), some Rally and an intro to Agility over the past few years. He enjoys working and is now very bonded to me. Rocky has watched the big dogs run in training and he enjoys his water retrieves. Recently I have been getting more formal with him as in making him heel and waiting to be sent, as opposed to just fun bumpers. There may be hope for him.

I do not feel this dog will be able to handle much collar pressure. I do plan on CC to here and sit. He has been trained to whistle sit when walking at heel and knows a come in whistle. I have read a few excerpts from Lorie Jolly's book Motivational Training for the Field. I'm thinking these methods might work well for Rocky in teaching Hold and Fetch. I don't have any grand expectations for him other than training him to do Junior level work.

This would be my first experience training a mature dog for field work. It's definitely going to be a bit different than working with a pup. Has anyone had experience using Jolly's methods? Maybe some of the Amish trainers can chime in here. I'm also wondering what I should start with for teaching Hold (paint roller, canvas bumper, dowel). Rocky is soft but very food motivated and eager to please.
 

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We have a three year old BLM that has been slow to get with the program. We have spent time and $$ on training over the three years only to feel like he is not going to amount to anything field wise. Well as he nears four, we feel he is coming around. One of the things that happened was exposing him to the excitement of a hunt test. It flicked a switch for him. He passed a HRC started test with flying colors and will be a good dog to expose my son to the hunt test game.

Having said all that, he is never going to be a Master Hunter. But based on the impact hunt tests are having on him, I feel he will be a very serviceable gun dog for years to come, even if it is at four years of age. It can be done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We have a three year old BLM that has been slow to get with the program. We have spent time and $$ on training over the three years only to feel like he is not going to amount to anything field wise. Well as he nears four, we feel he is coming around. One of the things that happened was exposing him to the excitement of a hunt test. It flicked a switch for him. He passed a HRC started test with flying colors and will be a good dog to expose my son to the hunt test game.

Having said all that, he is never going to be a Master Hunter. But based on the impact hunt tests are having on him, I feel he will be a very serviceable gun dog for years to come, even if it is at four years of age. It can be done.

Rocky doesn't "LIVE" for the game like my Suki does, but he is very biddable and I have been patiently waiting for the "light bulb" moment. I do feel he is coming around. Future testing of this dog is less important to me than training him. I realize it will be a challenge but I believe he needs a "job". Thank you for sharing your story.
 

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I have a pretty similar situation to yours. Adult dog, very soft, no grand expectations, my enjoyment of the dog does not hinge on hunting/hunt test success, and desire to use motivational methods. I have not yet read Jolly's book (it's on my list) but the trainer I use for field work is a student of hers.

Motivational field work is hard. It's a bit like reinventing the wheel. I have found the progression of yard work drills in TRT to be useful, but you can't go about them in exactly the same way because your tools are so different. Think of it this way: traditional training sets the dog up to fail so he can be corrected, motivational training sets the dog up to succeed so he can be reinforced. That doesn't mean traditionally trained dogs are never successful, or motivationally trained dogs never fail, but you can't push a dog as hard when training motivationally because you have fewer tools to address failure and failure does not teach the motivationally trained dog as much as success does.

I started training fetch with a dumbbell, because I find that easiest for me and the dog to handle. Once you have a decent length hold with the dumbbell, say 10-30 seconds, I start asking my dog to hold whatever roughly cylindrical thing I have around the house. Think about building the concept of a retrieve. The more ways you explain the behavior, the stronger it will be. You can do a sort of food motivated Force Fetch, where the steps are the same as an ear pinch only replacing an ear pinch before the fetch with a food reward after the out. It will probably work. I consider it a poor application of your tools however, I prefer to shape it with a clicker. This is my favorite shaped retrieve protocol: http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/retrieve.html I also have a PDF of a similar progression written by someone with retrievers. PM me if you're interested. Michael Ellis is a Schutzhund trainer and has a good DVD on training the retrieve as well. I particularly like his approach to teaching the walking hold.

PositiveGunDogs is a yahoo group. It may skew more positive than you wish to go, but it is the best & most active resource I have found for non-traditional gun dog training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have a pretty similar situation to yours. Adult dog, very soft, no grand expectations, my enjoyment of the dog does not hinge on hunting/hunt test success, and desire to use motivational methods. I have not yet read Jolly's book (it's on my list) but the trainer I use for field work is a student of hers.

Motivational field work is hard. It's a bit like reinventing the wheel. I have found the progression of yard work drills in TRT to be useful, but you can't go about them in exactly the same way because your tools are so different. Think of it this way: traditional training sets the dog up to fail so he can be corrected, motivational training sets the dog up to succeed so he can be reinforced. That doesn't mean traditionally trained dogs are never successful, or motivationally trained dogs never fail, but you can't push a dog as hard when training motivationally because you have fewer tools to address failure and failure does not teach the motivationally trained dog as much as success does.

I started training fetch with a dumbbell, because I find that easiest for me and the dog to handle. Once you have a decent length hold with the dumbbell, say 10-30 seconds, I start asking my dog to hold whatever roughly cylindrical thing I have around the house. Think about building the concept of a retrieve. The more ways you explain the behavior, the stronger it will be. You can do a sort of food motivated Force Fetch, where the steps are the same as an ear pinch only replacing an ear pinch before the fetch with a food reward after the out. It will probably work. I consider it a poor application of your tools however, I prefer to shape it with a clicker. This is my favorite shaped retrieve protocol: http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/retrieve.html I also have a PDF of a similar progression written by someone with retrievers. PM me if you're interested. Michael Ellis is a Schutzhund trainer and has a good DVD on training the retrieve as well. I particularly like his approach to teaching the walking hold.

PositiveGunDogs is a yahoo group. It may skew more positive than you wish to go, but it is the best & most active resource I have found for non-traditional gun dog training.

Thanks so much for the info. The dumbbell sounds like a good starter for Hold.
 

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Successful trainers of any type do NOT set the dog up for failure. THAT'S WHY they're successful.

I'll be back in a while. gotta make some popcorn......-Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"Successful trainers of any type do NOT set the dog up for failure. THAT'S WHY they're successful.".....

I agree with you Paul. Enjoy your popcorn.
 
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