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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I am writing this while reminding myself that every dog is different, that I need patience with teaching, and that practice is essential. I also know that a timetable should not be paired with training. That said I feel like my 9 month old pup is beginning to put it all together. At least everything before the retrieve together.

I have just started the FF process with my dog. I am using Hillmann's method. My pup gets excited over fetching from my hand, and grabs the bumper with excitement. I have been reinforcing that with the ecollar on low. I am currently focusing on "Hold" on an elevated table. I've gotten my pup to hold a gloved hand well, and is now holding a paint roller. He needs practice with this for sure. He does however release well on the "OUT" command. After a few repetitions of this I either move to more "FETCH" out of hand, or I will throw a fun bumper. I have used the ear pinch on a few occasions to introduce this idea. After reading several posts on this forum I like the idea of using both the Hillmann method and traditional method for FF.

My problem is that my pup does not deliver to hand on retrieves unless on a line. He basically runs back to me then tries to play with the bumper. This has been an issue since he was very young. I have responded to this by commanding here, and pulling him in with the leash. He then either gives it over, or tries to play tug of war. If he tugs I hold his collar and say no, followed by "OUT." I am just curious your take on this. As you probably know Hillmann's method does really use corrections per say. And while my pup is responding very well to this teaching style, he is a bit hard headed at times. I am hesitant to use increased pressure with him, as he has had little exposure to this thus far. Obviously an ear pinch is pressure, so I have questioned the use of that in my training as well.

Many folks on this forum have commented both for and against the throwing of bumpers during FF. Given my dog's behavior I am leaning towards reducing bumpers until he is firm on "hold."

Any feedback for this rookie trainer is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much
 

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Right now, your dog views coming back to you and giving up his reward(bumper) as negative. Give him a reason to want to come back to you.

Force fetch itself will not clean up the return issue. Have you completed formal obedience and collar conditioning? If not, why have you moved on to force fetch?
 

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Hopefully others will provide input soon. I too would stop retrieves until the pup has a better grasp on the hold command. Make sure that you are fair and consistent with your teaching of the hold and fetch command. If you are going to teach him on a table make sure he is also proficient on the ground before "testing" him. Keep after it and be consistent and you will soon be rewarded with a delivery to hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Right now, your dog views coming back to you and giving up his reward(bumper) as negative. Give him a reason to want to come back to you.

Force fetch itself will not clean up the return issue.
thanks for the response Bamajeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I am always working on collar conditioning with my pup. He is very good with sit, heel, here, kennel. He is very steady both in a traffic cop scenario and with him by my side. The problem seems to be isolated to when he has a bumper in his mouth. I may be wrong but I am under the impression that Hillmann's method follows this regiment of constant collar conditioning and building slowly the arsenal of commands the dog understands. Prior to beginning my training I had read "Retriever Training" by Tom Dokken. In that he has a chapter on formalized obedience where continuous nicks at a perceivable level are used to force compliance of the dog. I do not see Hillmann discussing this tactic and therefore have avoided it. Should I consider using this traditional method in conjunction with HIllmann's techniques? I would guess it would be done after the dog could reliably (but not 100%) respond to commands. Again, thank you for your input
 

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I am always working on collar conditioning with my pup. He is very good with sit, heel, here, kennel. He is very steady both in a traffic cop scenario and with him by my side. The problem seems to be isolated to when he has a bumper in his mouth. I may be wrong but I am under the impression that Hillmann's method follows this regiment of constant collar conditioning and building slowly the arsenal of commands the dog understands. Prior to beginning my training I had read "Retriever Training" by Tom Dokken. In that he has a chapter on formalized obedience where continuous nicks at a perceivable level are used to force compliance of the dog. I do not see Hillmann discussing this tactic and therefore have avoided it. Should I consider using this traditional method in conjunction with HIllmann's techniques? I would guess it would be done after the dog could reliably (but not 100%) respond to commands. Again, thank you for your input
Hillmann's method makes the dog's reason for existence to play 'the game'. If he's not bringing the bumper back to you he doesn't yet understand that that's just another opportunity to play the game.
 

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It has been awhile since reading threads about using Hillmann's program.

Reading through this thread I picked a few excerpts so as to offer a trend. In no particular order....well maybe.

(1) currently focusing on "Hold" on an elevated table. I've gotten my pup to hold a gloved hand well and is now holding a paint roller.

(2) I have used the ear pinch on a few occasions to introduce this idea.

(3) My problem is that my pup does not deliver to hand on retrieves unless on a line......since he was very young. I have responded to
this by commanding here and pulling him in with the leash.

(4) He then either gives it over or tries to play tug of war. If he tugs I hold his collar and say no, followed by "OUT."

(5) Many folks on this forum have commented both for and against the throwing of bumpers during FF.

(6).....Tom Dokken....has a chapter on formalized obedience where continuous nicks at a perceivable level are used to force compliance of the dog.
I do not see Hillmann discussing this tactic and therefore have avoided it. Should I consider using this traditional method in conjunction with Hillmann's
techniques? I would guess it would be done after the dog could reliably (but not 100%) respond to commands.


There is no young retriever program called "Kind of Doing" Hillmann's.

Temptation and doubt can be unrelenting regards, Jim
 

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This is a rare instance when responding to my own post seems appropriate. The thrust of the initial post was that based on
having trained several retrievers using other programs, deciding to do Hillmann's required major "adjustments". Much of what
was done before was contrary.

However, I did have a mentor that kept me in check in a subtle manner. The thrust of most of our conversations seemed to
always end with the same philosophy.....if your pup is not "getting it" you must make adjustments in your approach. Essentially,
everything the pup does is the result of your input (or lack thereof).

Here is a list of things I would, should not do:
1. not teach “here” first
2. forget about finding what level on the e-collar was required to make a correction
3. no FF table, no glove in mouth, no ear pinching, no heeling stick and a paint roller was not necessary (except maybe
when teething)
4. resist searching for “other ways” to do things
5. be wary of asking for advice from someone not using Hillmann

Here is a list of things I struggled with (initially).

1. I was tempted to do some of the above.
2. I needed to be more willing to accept the premise that when my pup did not do what was expected it was my fault.
3. Realizing this (#2) from training other dogs did reduce some of the frustration and this led to some serious soul searching
(often). Realizing you’ve made a mistake is not a universal skill and only half the battle. Correcting it within the parameters
of a specific program
is an entirely new issue.

“What am I doing wrong?” is especially not the normal focus for new dog trainers. It is often more about the dog (not doing what it
is supposed to do). Specific, regular thoughts about “How am I doing?” (as a trainer/teacher) are necessary. Acting on this issue is
a continuous challenge.

It was a stroke of good timing that I had/have a strong mentor who systematically speaks to this issue. He was/is relentless.:)

Training Pounce reminds me of the old “game show” where the contestants try to determine the name of a song in the fewest number
of notes. If I had the chance to train Pounce all over again………it would take fewer “journal entries”.
 

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Jim you have me looking hard at Hillman. I have read many materials and programs. I have experience with only 1 and a half programs but when you compare many of them, they all have the same backbone tendencies. When the time is right, I might be bothering you more than you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thank you all for the input. I have experimented with my pup by just throwing bumpers to him and walking away. As he gets just about to me I turn around and squat and greet him with praise. After a few sessions of this I have been able to throw the bumper, continue to face him and just squat down to greet him. Again he brings the bumper to me and I can greet him with praise. I will need to work this for some time, as the habit he had developed was something that has been with him since he was very young. Im certain that I created it to begin with. Initially he had little drive, and in an effort to develop that, I would allow him to play tug of war to keep him excited then throw the bumper.

With that lesson in mind, I have been trying to prevent bad habits from forming. I also have learned that my dog does not do well with large amounts of pressure, probably because for his entire life I have been using light nicks with his training. So, when I say ear pinch, It really is more of my just putting my finger / thumb on his ear and his mouth opens. WIth the hold command, he at times does very well, and at other times does not. He has stopped spitting it out (for the most part) but still mouths it frequently. It seems to be that a lot of people really like HIllmann's philosophy and methods, but there seems to be a lot of debate regarding FF.

To my original point, HIllmann's methods have worked very well for me, particularly when we are playing the game. This is of course the backbone of his approach. I just was expecting to see more compliance outside of the game. Patience.
 

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So how, other than praise (more or less useless) how are you making it fun for the dog to give you back that bumper? Are you going immediately into "the game" or throwing it again for him?

What you did by squatting was show him a visual signal that something good was going to happen, since you've been squatting and petting/playing with him. You also made yourself smaller and non-threatening. That's just information though, you have the behavior you want now... how are you reinforcing it?
 

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Plastic bucket type thing = bottom of an airline kennel
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I was about halfway through a response when my computer went back a page so if this is posted twice I apologize

But I reward with petting and praise followed by another retrieve. Or instead of a retrieve I may give a treat or work right into another command. He is pretty locked in when playing the game. I have been able to also grab the bumper and his collar and then him into a sit / heel then work on hold. His hold is coming along much faster now that I have moved away from table work and instead using this method. I think it will come quick seeing that when playing the game I can call him to a sit heel with hand signals, whistle, or verbal commands very reliably. It was the bumper that seemed to be complicating things.
 
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