What the heck.....she was doing great, now....nothing. Well, not always nothing, sometimes she'll run out, sniff and go about her business, sometimes she'll pick it up, start back, then drop it, and sometimes, well nothing! I feel like I must have done something to confuse her...I just don't know what.
Now for the details, she is 7 mos old. We also have a 7 yr. old (more on that later). I had her to the point that she would wait for "back" command, then retrieve, even sometimes coming back to heel on her own and releasing to hand. About a month went by and I didn't work with her much. Took the ball out to play, and she had nothing to do with it! Now, about my 7 yr. old... Usually they are together when we are just playing with the ball (fetch). She had developed a really bad habit of hanging on the side of his neck by her teeth when he was returning the ball. The only way I was able to break her of that was with an e-collar. Now, I didn't do this when she had the ball, only when the 7yr. old had it and she was hanging off his neck. Did I confuse her?
So, how do I get her to retrieve again??? I feel like if I could just get her to do it right a few times, then I could reinforce that this is good...but so far, I feel like all I'm doing is reinforcing that if she doesn't retrieve it the 7 yr. old will, so why worry about it. Which btw brings up another question...what do I do when she doesn't retrive? (I mean with the thrown object) Leave it laying? Pick it up my own bad self? Let the 7 yr. old go get it (which is what I have been doing)? I must have been really spoiled with my other labs....retrieving was always just natural. Another btw....she has a really good pedigree of hunting/field trial and show. I think I've rambled enough. Any thoughts are welcome.
I think you are right about the e-collar confusing her. She was trying to get the ball so she could be the one to return it (by wrestling it away from the older dog) and got the heck shocked out of her, right?
Well, here is what I would do. First of all, put the seven year old up when you are working with the pup, it needs to be one on one time. Then, leaving the e-collar OFF for now, trying playing fetch in a different but distraction free location, with a different item than you have been using, maybe a plush toy or a Dokken dead fowl dummy. Do not use any commands just exciting encouragement, and do not insist she be steady (steady = waiting to be sent). If she pays little attention to the toy, you run for it and play with it yourself, like it is the best toy in the world. Let her see you play with it, then put the toy away until next time. Sooner or later she might decide she wants to beat you to it and play with that fun toy before you put it away. Only throw the toy around a two or three times each session, even if she is bringing it back. Only do a session two or three times a week. Once she is fetching the new toy really well for several weeks, reintroduce the ball using the same playful tactics. Please let me know the results if you try this whole procedure. Some field trainers would introduce the pup to a live wing-clipped pigeon to get retrieving drive back up, but if you are not serious about field training I don't think that would help much, and she still might have no interest in retrieving non-bird objects afterwards.
You might also want to check out her teeth in case one of them has come in wrong and is causing pain.
Are you training her to be a hunting retriever or is the fetching just for play? If you want her to be a serious retriever you should probably look into more systematic training program. The DVDs Training A Retriever Puppy with Bill Hillmann and The Fetch Command would be good to get her started. It is important not to use an e-collar correction during fetch until a dog is conditioned to the e-collar with other commands such as sit and here.
Last edited by ThreeTs; 01-18-2012 at 01:57 PM.
Below is a copy of a post I've often made.
Many people assume that a Lab should retrieve automatically, without training.
While SOME Labs do, probably the majority need some training to retrieve.
Chasing after a moving object is native and instinctual for almost all dogs but the bringing it back to someone and giving it up is not and that part usually needs training.
However, for many Labs, once they learn to retrieve, it's often the thing they enjoy most in life and have an endurance for fetching greater than the arm endurance of the person throwing the object.
That's not bad because most Labs need a lot of daily vigorous exercise to be docile and civil. "Fetch" is a wonderful way of meeting most of those needs.
However, a few Labs become too obsessed with retrieving and need to have limits imposed.
(And a few get EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) and become weak and shaky; this is a genetic fault of a few Labs and was investigated by a consortium of US & Canadian Vet colleges. The Labrador Retriever Club website has a section on this.)
Teaching to retrieve --
For a puppy, if you have a blind hallway, you can start by rolling a ball or toy down the hall toward the blind end. The pup will run after it and has no choice but to come back to you. At that time, praise, and exchange a treat or a bit of kibble for the ball/toy along with more praise.
Repeat 2-3 times. ALWAYS QUIT WHILE IT'S STILL FUN AND INTERESTING TO YOUR PUP/DOG.
I didn't have a blind hallway and we used a 25 foot/8 m. kite string tied to a rubber toy dumbbell.
We went out in the front yard and I'd throw it in first one direction, holding on to the bitter end (i.e., the non-toy end) of the line. Puff went after it and when she picked up the toy, I reeled back both Puff and the toy she was holding, praised her, and gave a treat in exchange for the toy. You might also say, "__(name)__, Give!" at the time you're offering the treat and getting the toy delivered to your hand. Then you'll be teaching another VERY useful command: ("Give!").
I threw it in a different direction next time. Repeated as above.
You do need to vary the directions you throw it and the locations you use because young dogs can easily (too easily) become site-specific in their learning.
E.g., a woman 7-8 years ago on JL complained that her Lab would retrieve when she sat in a particular chair in her living room and threw a toy from there but would not retrieve any place else. When you vary the locations and directions it helps them easily learn to generalize.
ALWAYS KEEP THE RETRIEVING FUN, NEVER WORK.
If your pup's enthusiasm starts lagging after 5 trials, drop to 3 or 4 the next time you try it. If it lags after 3 trials, drop to one for awhile until the interest and enthusiasm builds up.
If you train just before normal feeding time, your pup's motivation for food will be higher and pieces of kibble exchanged for the toy will have greater reward effect.
As your pup learns to retrieve and enjoys it, you can gradually increase the # of trials.
Last edited by Bob Pr.; 01-18-2012 at 05:21 PM.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
3T, thanks for the advice. I would like to do some trials with her one day, and possibly hunt with her. She is primarily a pet though. I have Water Dog book and DVD. I'll try your suggestions.
Have you been to this forum? RetrieverTraining.Net - the RTF - Powered by vBulletin
It has a wealth of helpful members and you can also get good recommendations for books and DVDS. I like the Training Retrievers for Marshes and Meadows by James Spencer, but the book does not cover e-collar use.
The best thing to do if you are interested in training for hunting or hunt tests is to find a local hunting retriever club and go to club training days. You can find clubs here American Kennel Club - Club Search and Directory
AND here United Kennel Club: Hunting Retriever Club Listings
You have gotten good advice. Finding a hunting retriever club will be a good start. Also, Evan Graham's "Smart Works" is another good training book.