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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 8 month old female lab who has got me stumped. I'm a first time dog trainer so I need help.

I am following the SmartWork program. She made it through the puppy program and obedience fine. She picked up on the first stages of force fetch very quickly. By the end of the second session she was actively reaching for the bumper to turn off the ear pinch.

The transition to the floor was slower, but I think that was my fault wanting to move too fast after the great start. We got that taken care of and moved to walking fetch. (I collar conditioned as recommended in the SmartFetch DVD as well.)

The first couple days of walking fetch outside went fine. She was diving for the bumper on command. I didn't want to go too fast so I slowed down and took a couple extra days on walking fetch.

I am currently starting a three bumper mini pile and this seems to have her stumped, so I took away the other two and just have a single bumper about two to three feet in front of her. When I command fetch she looks confused and may wander out to the bumper and pick it up or may not, wether I force with a collar or use no force. If I force with an ear pinch instead of the collar she dives on the bumper as soon as I pinch.

When we are just marking there is no force, she retrieves like a champ! She runs hard and hits the bumper so hard it makes me proud.

Did I screw up the transition to collar force, or is she just reacting poorly to pressure? She is very soft and will try to quit if she feels too much pressure FYI.

HELP!
 

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...I am currently starting a three bumper mini pile and this seems to have her stumped, so I took away the other two and just have a single bumper about two to three feet in front of her. When I command fetch she looks confused and may wander out to the bumper and pick it up or may not, wether I force with a collar or use no force. If I force with an ear pinch instead of the collar she dives on the bumper as soon as I pinch.

...

Did I screw up the transition to collar force, or is she just reacting poorly to pressure? She is very soft and will try to quit if she feels too much pressure FYI.

HELP!
Great post BTW...

Bolded part by me - Haven't looked at all of SW and haven't looked at any of it in several years, so this may not be the way Evan does it, but...

I've had the same problem with a dog when moving to simple casting in Lardy's TRT. Went back and watched te DVD several more times and as I recall Mike says to deal with all refusals with the ear pinch. It would seam that you could use the collar here since you just completed collar fetch, but the ear pinch is the way I went and very quickly we were casting to the three piles without issue. Another friend of mine, who trains several dogs a year, had the same issue with one of his dogs. I told him about using the ear pinch rather than collar and the pup progressed through simple casting.
 

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You do realize that you live in the same city as the author of the program that you are using, don't you? Maybe he will chime in with some local training dates that you can attend for some one on one problem solving, especially since you are not sure what you did (if anything) that has made the dog confused.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You do realize that you live in the same city as the author of the program that you are using, don't you? Maybe he will chime in with some local training dates that you can attend for some one on one problem solving, especially since you are not sure what you did (if anything) that has made the dog confused.
Yeah, l've PM'd Evan before about meeting in person to buy some live ducks, but my schedule didn't match up. That was before starting FF, though.
 

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Yeah, l've PM'd Evan before about meeting in person to buy some live ducks, but my schedule didn't match up. That was before starting FF, though.
Hey SPWZ,

I used to hang with Rick in the bullpen at contests.

What's your relationship to him? Is he still competing at all?

He's a good guy.

You can PM me, since this is a derail of the topic. I was just happy to see Rick's name in your signature line. There are several good guys in your area that were on the contest trail back when I was hitting it.

Good luck with the pup...I'd strongly suggest not using the collar until it is to reinforce a known command or behavior.

I know some "teach" with the collar, but that's for other dogs to be guinea pigs...not mine or yours! :cool:

Good luck!

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update.

Last night I tried again. We started with some review of basic FF with ear pinch. I worked from in front of her to the ground in about 4 reps. She did great here. No hesitation. No confusion. She was eagerly diving on the bumper both in my hand and when it was on the ground right in front of her.

Staying with one bumper I extended the distances a foot at a time until she was fetching out to 10 feet or so. As she got out of arms reach I quit forcing with the ear.

She did fine until the bumper got about 6 feet out in front. At this distance she would pause about three feet out and turn to look at me. I couldn't read her well enough to tell if it was confusion or an outright refusal, but when I would walk out and pinch her ear should would get right back into the bumper.

I never forced with the collar throughout any of this.

At the end of the force fetch, we did a short marking session in the back yard and her attitude was great with no problems. She always sprints after the bumper and dives on like shes trying to kill it.

Is she just confused by the longer distances or has she figured out that when she is out of reach I can't grab her ear right away?

I know this is difficult without video, but any tips are welcome. Force fetch has gone really well up to this point and I don't want to screw up now.
 

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spwz,

As you said, it's tough to know without seeing it first hand, but from what you are describing, it sounds like you are reading her correctly. She seems to get that you can't ear pinch her without her being in arm's reach. That said, that's what the collar is for. It's your "long range" ear pinch.

The trick, though, is that she has to understand that that is what the collar correction means. Just nicking her at range when she refuses won't do you any good and could do considerable harm, if she doesn't connect the nick to the ear pinch. In your update, it sounds as though she understands the the force and turning off pressure with ear pinch. Did you do the same with collar pressure? Did you do the step where you were both pinching her ear and applying collar pressure at the same time? It was almost a year ago that I went through FF with my dog, but I used SmartWork, too. I recall teaching the ear pinch with bumper in hand and working it all the way to the ground. Then, I seem to think we went back to bumper in hand and linked collar pressure to ear pinch, eventually phasing out the ear pinch until collar pressure replaced it as the "force" to retrieve a bumper, but with the bumper still in hand. Finally, we worked the bumper down to the ground, eventually without my hand on it, all using the collar as force. All of this took place prior to any 3 bumper mini-pile work, so I was confident before mini-pile, that my dog understood the collar's place as force for fetch.

I could be totally off, here, as I can't see your dog working, but it sounds as though she doesn't understand that the collar is intended to energize the fetch command. My first thought would be to go back to bumper in hand and re-connect the ear pinch and the collar pressure. Take that for what it's worth.
 

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...
She did fine until the bumper got about 6 feet out in front. At this distance she would pause about three feet out and turn to look at me...but when I would walk out and pinch her ear...
This part of your post caught my eye...

Timing of correction is extremely important. As soon as you read she is going to pause, you should be on her ear well before she has a chance to turn around and look at you. You can't decide her motivation and then walk out. Its too late by then. The dog is three feet away; be on her before she turns around.

I happen to have my TRT (Lardy) book out today. Looking through...
Stick Fetch - "Enforce refusals with ear pinch"
Three-Handed Cast - "Deal with all refusals with the ear pinch"
Note that in Lardy's system Collar Conditioning is done after Three-Handed Cast.
Collar Fetch - "All refusals are still dealt with using the ear pinch"

Force to Pile - "The stick pressure previously learned is now transferred to collar pressure at a distance from the handler."

So in FTP we first send the dog many times until momentum is strong with no force, then review stick to pile, then nick to pile. It doesn't say in the book (one that comes with DVD), but I still deal with refusals with the ear pinch.

Note that in TRT, the dog is not (typically) CC until after three-handed cast so it isn't an issue of nick or ear pinch for the refusal - it's ear pinch. The use of the collar at a distance is not introduced until FTP. Again, I've found for a couple of dogs that had trouble with the transition from stick to nick, that dealing with the refusal by way of the ear pinch worked.

Couple more things that helped me,
Start with the dog close to the pile and gradually increase distance rather than starting at the base line.
The timing of the nick/stick is critical and should be just as the dog begins to turn.
 

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How have you used retraint in FF? This is a big part about how Evan does stuff. Remember the CC to here and using the light pole?

He does a smilar thing with FF to hammer the nail home.

Are you in really short grass, the pile should be very visable. Do you keep the pile in one place and simply move father back.

I always felt my dog was soft but after a while I learned she was more sensetive then soft, which is good takes less pressure to get a response. With that there were times where she was playing with me to avoid pressure. I learned the dog can take much more than I was willing to give out. Being a first timer it is hard to read that in a dog.

I know FF was more hard on me than it was my dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
spwz,

The trick, though, is that she has to understand that that is what the collar correction means. Just nicking her at range when she refuses won't do you any good and could do considerable harm, if she doesn't connect the nick to the ear pinch. In your update, it sounds as though she understands the the force and turning off pressure with ear pinch. Did you do the same with collar pressure? Did you do the step where you were both pinching her ear and applying collar pressure at the same time? It was almost a year ago that I went through FF with my dog, but I used SmartWork, too. I recall teaching the ear pinch with bumper in hand and working it all the way to the ground. Then, I seem to think we went back to bumper in hand and linked collar pressure to ear pinch, eventually phasing out the ear pinch until collar pressure replaced it as the "force" to retrieve a bumper, but with the bumper still in hand. Finally, we worked the bumper down to the ground, eventually without my hand on it, all using the collar as force. All of this took place prior to any 3 bumper mini-pile work, so I was confident before mini-pile, that my dog understood the collar's place as force for fetch.

I could be totally off, here, as I can't see your dog working, but it sounds as though she doesn't understand that the collar is intended to energize the fetch command. My first thought would be to go back to bumper in hand and re-connect the ear pinch and the collar pressure. Take that for what it's worth.
I followed the sequence of tying the ear pinch and collar stimulus together as Evan outlined in smartfetch. At least, I did my best as a newb. It seemed to go ok, but I would agree that she just didn't make the long term connection.

How have you used retraint in FF? This is a big part about how Evan does stuff. Remember the CC to here and using the light pole?

He does a smilar thing with FF to hammer the nail home.

Are you in really short grass, the pile should be very visable. Do you keep the pile in one place and simply move father back.

I always felt my dog was soft but after a while I learned she was more sensetive then soft, which is good takes less pressure to get a response. With that there were times where she was playing with me to avoid pressure. I learned the dog can take much more than I was willing to give out. Being a first timer it is hard to read that in a dog.

I know FF was more hard on me than it was my dog.
I thought I was restraining properly, but I'm gonna go back and do some review to make sure I do it right.

All bumpers are in short grass in my yard. Well within sight of the dog. I have been starting the fetch in the same place and just tossing the bumper a foot farther each time.

Tonight's update:
Went back to the basement to review FF with ear pinch and plenty of restraint as was suggested. She seemed to do great, Diving on the bumper with no restraint and very little ear pressure. When I added restraint it didn't phase her. She would practically drag me to the bumper to turn off the pinch.

This just reinforces to me that she understands the ear pinch. The problem had to be in my transition to the collar. I guess we will do it again in tomorrow's session.
Thanks!
 
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