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While yes, this is my general opinion and observation; generally suggested by the majority of professional Retriever trainers. What's the rush?
 

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While yes, this is my general opinion and observation; generally suggested by the majority of professional Retriever trainers. What's the rush?
Well of course it is what it is suggested by most pro trainers because at 6 months they normally get the dog lol and then they get paid to do it. For someone that’s never done it this is a good route, for those that have done it and had success earlier is better in my opinion especially in bigger powerful dogs. Less bad habits, more tools early, better control early, can run marks properly earlier. Lots of reasons if the dog is ready for it to do it earlier. Dogs are sponges early in life the more they learn early the better off they are.
 

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Retrievers adult teeth are coming in sometime between 4-6 months. If you've trained a lot of dogs I'm sure you've seen blood on happy bumpers, and dogs dropping dummies more frequently during this time, and this is the time to cease retrieving for some dogs who are especially sensitive to this. The reason you should wait, is that working on "hold" or FF when the new teeth are coming in can be painful to the dog. Not a good idea to do something to cause pain when not necessary. There's a lot of training you can do on marking, steadiness and obedience/line manners before 4 months; there's no urgency to FF before 6 months.
 

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Retrievers adult teeth are coming in sometime between 4-6 months. If you've trained a lot of dogs I'm sure you've seen blood on happy bumpers, and dogs dropping dummies more frequently during this time, and this is the time to cease retrieving for some dogs who are especially sensitive to this. The reason you should wait, is that working on "hold" or FF when the new teeth are coming in can be painful to the dog. Not a good idea to do something to cause pain when not necessary. There's a lot of training you can do on marking, steadiness and obedience/line manners before 4 months; there's no urgency to FF before 6 months.
Some good points and understand what you’re saying. But who says you have to use a hard bumper to force fetch? The dogs have evolved to a much higher level, so should our training techniques, the more creative we can be to help the learning process to keep up with the dogs the better, but that’s just my 2 cents. To be honest I very rarely use a hard bumper it’s normally at the end of everything just to use a different item to proof the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Guys, thanks for all of your insight. To answer and clarify a few things about my original post...

Franny is a female Boykin, she is 8 months old now. She is at my feet chewing on her Kong tire right now. I've allowed her to play with chew toys and have seen no issues with her doing this going through FF.

I believe we are on 16 of FF now. I have been careful to not rush anything, doing my best to do 3 to 4 sessions a day, all very short.

Ear pinch absolutely did not work as well as I wanted. She didnt seem to be connecting the dots. Towards the end of day 3 or ear pinch, I tried toe hitch. It was a night and day difference. She was lunging for the dummy bumper to turn off the pressure towards the end of the first day of toe hitch. I kept that up for about three days to really make sure she understood.

As for throwing marks, I've read and been told to not throw any until FF was done. At the end of the first day of walking fetch with her real bumpers, I threw two marks. It seemed to boost her morale, so I've thrown marks with sparingly to keep her positivity up.

I've had a few other issues that we are working through, but all just normal things for pups I imagine. Sometimes a sloppy hold when picking up bumpers off the ground and she will sometimes want to walk past the jumbo bumpers (harder to hold). I've tried correcting this by doing sessions only with the jumbo bumpers and making her place, heel, and sit while holding the jumbo bumper. She dropped it a few times when she would pick the bumper up with a sloppy hold, but she is being more mindful of picking the bumper up with a proper hold as she doesn't want to get knicked by dropping it.

Overall she is doing much better than I anticipated. I was dreading FF and was nervous about the entire process. Thanks for all of y'all's help.
 
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