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10 week old lab female. Brought her home a week ago. I'll be following Hillmans program for puppies but I'm coming across some issues. She will not give up the bumper, she has a really strong grip and I've tried putting my finger in her mouth and pushing the bumper into but it seems to aggrivate her more and bites down harder and wants to play tug of war. Either that or she'll turn around and bite my legs. She's shaking and chewing the bumpers as soon as she gets them in her mouth.

I've tried increasing her desire for the chase and her retrieves aren't too bad she does drop them occasionally and goes on to smell something else. This is the first retriever I've had with this issue of wanting to tug and not let go to retrieve. I don't take the bumper from her I just pet her or even carry her but she drops the bumper when I do that and I don't want to discourage her.

should I stop the retrieves for now or limit them?
how can I get her to let go of the bumper without risking putting her off of them?
How can I really get her to love retrieving?
Is this just a puppy quirk and it'll fade later on?
 

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Something you can try is once you have her back and under control, put one hand on the bumper and the other hand on her tail or lightly grab the flap of skin (flank?) from the leg to the belly. The natural response is to drop the bumper to insect what is behind them with their mouth.

Best of luck and enjoy 'em while they're young... they don't stay that size for long!
 

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I do not have tons of experience, but am following Hillmann for first time with our current 7 mo puppy(previously used Lardy+ other reading etc). I have always been able to open puppies mouths at any age. You should be practicing opening her mouth to examine teeth, handling her paws and ears daily, to make vet exams and nail clipping less stressful. It is important that you are able to physically remove something that you don't want her chewing or ingesting, especially before they learn the "leave it" command. I do that with our puppies from the start and they will easily open their mouth for me. Sounds like you are reluctant to "force" her to open her mouth as you don't want a possible bad association with retrieving bumpers. While you work on her becoming more comfortable with your hands in her mouth, try treats. Most pups will gladly drop the bumper if you offer a treat. Offer a high value treat when she retrieves. That way she is rewarded for retrieve AND coming to you. Have you tried tossing out another bumper as soon as she comes back to you with the first one? She needs to understand once she lets go, she gets rewarded. That reward must be whatever she values, a petting, a treat, or hopefully the chance to retrieve again. Sounds like she is excited to chase, remember 2 or 3 tosses at her age is plenty, and Hillmann stresses "chase" not retrieve in the beginning. Watch the video again, his puppy doesn't run straight out and back, and that is OK. That pup is 11 weeks at very beginning of DVD. Given that yours is only 10 weeks old, I might concentrate on sit and other things that she is doing correctly, rather than making a fuss and creating a bad habit before she is too young to know better. I am huge fan of "happy timing" at that age. Hillmann mentions this also. First 3-4 months try to get pups for walks out in woods and fields as much as possible traipsing over, under, around and through everything you can find. Dead logs, brush piles, streams and puddles, hills and ditches, tall grass and pricker bushes...try it all. Great bonding, wears them out, and my dogs will go through anything to get a bird. Don't judge your 10 wk pup by adult standards, or forecast future problems from her 10wk behaviors. Just love her and have fun with her, remember she's a baby yet. Trust that her well bred instincts will kick in, they will, all at different ages/stages.

Hopefully you will get responses from more experienced people who have dealt with this particular issue before. Have you tried emailing Bill Hillmann? He and Mary are good at answering questions. Best of Luck.
 

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Try a treat when she brings it back to you as noted by dogluvah. Usually you can pinch her jaws, grab and praise (with a treat sometimes). Don't play tug of war with anything!
 

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If you're going to follow Hillmann's program follow it. Don't mix and match. The most important thing to keep in mind is how you want your puppy to be, not what it will do, to paraphrase Bill Hillmann.
Your puppy does not know the rules yet; neither did mine at that age. I followed Hillmann's DVD and came through these problems fine with a lot of dog left. Watch the DVD closely. Keep the puppy in balance and teach the dog the rules slowly and fairly.
 
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