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  1. #1
    steveandginger's Avatar
    steveandginger is offline Senior Member
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    Defaulthelp with retrieves...

    Misty is now 18 1/2 weeks old.

    I have been working with her and a "bumper," teaching her to retrieve. I really don't know what I'm doing, but just trying to bring out her retrieving instict, while utilizing some of the basic commands I've taught her.

    I started by just throwing the bumper, to see if she would chase it. She did. So, for the past month or so, I just worked with her to get used to going to get it when I threw it, and then (ideally) returning to me and giving it back. She does great with the retrieve -- lots of energy and enthusiasm to "go get it," but not so good with bringing it back. About 1/2 the time, she would simply sit down after getting the bumper and chew on it! : The other half of the time, she would run back toward me, but then veer off and sit down 5 or 10 feet from me and chew it. If I approached her, she would get up and run off another few feet. I would have to REALLY coax her to get her to me, and then to get her to let go of the bumper to do another retrieve.

    With time, I found that clapping and making a big fuss when she got to the bumper, and then getting down on my knees and saying "good girl, good girl," could get her to return to me (as opposed simply grabbing the bumper and sitting right down to chew it) about 80 to 90 percent of the time. However, she STILL won't return right to me; she will still lay a few feet from me to chew the bumper.

    Today, I tried something different. I decided to utilize more of what we'd already learned into this training, and see if it helped. I decided that instead of throwing the bumper and letting her immediately take off, I'd make her sit, and put her in a sit-stay, WHILE I threw the bumper. The first time, she took off and broke the stay. However, after a correction on that, the next time she was able to continue her sit-stay until I released her -- and then she took off full bore to the bumper. After a couple of retrieves, we had this down pat (I was so proud of her!). I could get her to sit for several seconds, after the bumper had rolled to a complete stop, just waiting for me give her her release command. I then tried to, when she ran back to my "vicinity," to have her sit, with the bumper in her mouth, and allow me to approach her without her running away. If she didn't run, and let me take the bumper from her, I gave her a treat.

    We only had marginal success with this. She often would get a few feet from me and then plop down to chew -- and thus I couldn't even utilize the "sit" command. Other times, she was too excited and ignored the "sit" command.

    So, my question -- is this a common issue when training retrieves, and what should I do to encourage her to come back to me, drop the bumper in my hand or at my foot, and then sit at my side waiting for the next retrieve?

    Thanks,

    Steve

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  3. #2
    MarlansMum's Avatar
    MarlansMum is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    I also have a huge problem with this. While Marlan has always loved to chase the item, and brings it back in my direction, he will never drop it or give it to me. He would rather run around with it.

    What we have done to combat this problem is to use to identical items when we play (i.e. two kongs on ropes, two chuck it balls, etc.). This way, he gets the first one, runs back with it, and is not allowed to chase the second one until he drops the first. It has been very effective for us, even though it is not a perfect retrieve.

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    Di
    Di is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    Bob Pr. gave me some great advice on this yesterday, in lab chat- under the thread, "does your labrador walk the walk, I found it very helpful! Goodluck to you and your labbies

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    steveandginger's Avatar
    steveandginger is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    MarlansMum --

    I'm glad to hear of someone else out there whose lab behaves in a similar way! I will try the "two identical items" concept and see if it works. I suspect, with Misty, that she is SO obsessed with chewing, that once she got one of the bumpers and started chewing it, that that she would have no interest in dropping it just to chase another. She'd be like "what do I want to expend the energy running to chase bumper #2, to chew on IT, when I already have a hold of bumper #1 and am happily chewing IT?" But we shall see...

    dipete --

    I'll go read that thread now! Thanks for the heads-up.

    Steve

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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    Just yesterday, I saw here where someone posted a picture of their 4-month old lab with a duck in its mouth, and I said "uh, oh." I also ran into some guys training hunting labs at a pond a few weeks ago, and I told them I was interested in starting to train my lab to hunt. They asked how old she was, and I told them. Their response was "you are late." Finally, I am reading a book by Wolters -- "Game Dog," and this book would also suggest that I am "late." I guess that's part of what's driving me.
    Ok -- I'll start by saying that we train VERY differently in this country, however at 18 weeks old she is FAR from being "late". We get dogs that are 2-3 years old starting at our training classes. Some don't do well (just as some puppies don't do well -- many simply don't have 'it', and therefore age is not a factor) and others make fantastic working dogs.

    I think what you are doing is fine. I also think for her age you are expecting too much in terms of reliability. She is 18 weeks old. She won't be steady or have a reliable retrieve for some time yet. It takes a lot of work to achieve both of those things, especially the steady part.

    However, she STILL won't return right to me; she will still plop down a few feet from me to chew the bumper.
    This is a common problem. As soon as the dog is coming towards you with the retrieve, walk/jog away in the opposite direction. A dogs natural instinct is to follow so it would be very unlikely if she sat and chewed while you run off. Keep walking/jogging until the dog is trotting at heel with you. Then AS SOON AS she is at your side while in motion take hold of the dummy while it is in her mouth, give the 'HOLD' command, then make her 'SIT', then give the realease command. Praise like mad and repeat.

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    ks02 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    We had problems with Riley like this at first...I got him at 16 weeks old. I think until they are COMPLETELY done teething, chewing is a top priority. He's now 8 months old and actually seems to understand the game a little more. He corrected himself and is now nearly perfect on retrieves. However, it has only been very recently that he has gotten better at it, so you might have a while until she is interested in retrieving the right way. It seems to me that the younger the puppy, the more they care about what THEY want and the less they care what you want them to do. Maybe they are sort of like egocentric toddlers. Riley is VERY concerned about whether or not I'm happy with him, and when he does well retrieving, I act very happy, so he continues to do it. I always wonder how they train hunting dogs at such a young age. Kudos to the hunters...I know I couldn't have done it that early. We had enough issues with manners alone. Also, maybe I was just lucky that he fixed his problem on his own, and your pup may need more work. We sure are looking forward to trying this in the water when it warms up!

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    What worked very well for us was to tie a kite string (for a pup) or for an older Lab, a 1/4" (6 mm) dia line X 30 ft (10 m) to the Training Dummy.

    Then throw it the length of the line, all the while hanging on to the bitter (non-TD) end.

    When your Lab runs after it and grabs it, you can reel the TD w/ Lab attached back to you and exchange a few pieces of kibble + great praise for the TD. Getting kibble or treat prompts quickly releasing the TD. A few training trials before usual meal time insures high motivation.

    With a young pup, always monitor their enthusiasm. Never make the retrieving work. As soon as you see interest flag, quit for then, and use one or more fewer trials the next time. Keep it fun and quit while they still want more. My Puff at 4 months had a fun attention span of about 3-4 retrieves. So we practiced 3 times a day, briefly each time, just before meals.

    Always vary the direction of the throw and also your locations. That's because dogs do not generalize well and could learn to retrieve quite well in one specific place but would not generalize to doing that in other places (unless you've helped in their training).

    MAYBE you can get away with teaching your pup to sit and wait before being released. Maybe you'll regret it.

    Personally, I'd be far more concerned with building up the fun and the retrieving drive for a young pup and doing nothing to interfere with that. Once your Lab has become a retrieving fiend (or a reliable retriever) at about 8-10 months old -- THEN you can begin putting in barriers (like waiting to be released when you're sure your Lab's retrieving drive is maxed out at whatever level it has).

    For a Lab with a VERY intense drive to retrieve, you can probably get by with early delays. But for Labs with less than maximal drive, putting delays in so early in their training could, might, end up blunting or diminishing their normal drive.

    I'd never let a Lab chew on a TD. They're not chew toys and the grommet end gets easily broken. I'd reserve it for playing fetch.

    An occasional advantage of training with a line attached so you can reel back the TD (w/ Lab) is that it's useful for teaching the swimming-reluctant/impaired Lab to swim. Once they've learned to retrieve on land, you can sling it into a pond and -- if your Lab doesn't bring it back -- YOU don't have to wade in after it.

    For TDs, I like the "Lucky Dog" (brand) vinyl 2" X 12" TDs such as sold by http://www.gundogsupply.com and many other places. They come with a short slinging line already attached.

    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":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    Trickster --

    Just curiously, what country are you in?

    Anyway, thanks for the encouragement and advice. I am glad to hear that we may not in fact be "late." My instincts would tell me that we should get solid on basic obedience and on manners, and then introduce the hunting training, but like I said, some of the things I've heard/read have spooked me.

    Finally, though I haven't tried the "running away from her" part, I have occasionally had success by giving a sit command, and then taking the dummy in my hand and giving the "release" command. When she lets go, I have praised and given treats; I try focusing on this method more over the next few days.

    ks02 --

    I'm also glad to hear that you had similar issues with Riley at first. You make a good point -- that chewing is a top priority. Though I know she loves to chew, the way you put it puts things in a different light for me. It does almost seem like when I throw something, her retrieve instincts kick in immediately and she takes off -- but once she gets something in her mouth, the obsession with chewing takes over. I never thought of the fact that teething/chewing might actually be the issue -- and that when the teething (and thus obsessive need to chew) is removed from the equation, that this distraction being removed might make all the difference. It's also interesting to hear that over time Riley became more and more interested in pleasing you. I think I've noticed a bit of this with Misty; if you are correct and this happens over time, then I know this would make the training go more smoothly.

    Bob Pr. --

    Thanks for the many tips included in your post. I will start attaching a string to the bumper. Someone else suggested this, and I will do this -- and also will practicw with her before meal time, when she would be most highly-motivated to take treats (and thus release the dummy).

    As for enthusiasm, and making it fun, I do try to do this. She is very enthusiastic most of the time; lots of energy, and we can do probably 10-15 retrieves easy in most cases. Also, I do vary the location. I tried a few in my neighbor's yard today, with a stick (not a dummy) and she did just fine.

    Now, with the delays/barriers issue -- you have me worried!! I had NO IDEA this could be bad. I started doing this for 2 reasons. 1 -- because I saw those other guys doing it (granted, their dogs were MUCH older and more experienced) -- so I assumed that was what you want to practice; 2 -- because she is SO energetic, that when I get out the training dummy, she is jumping up trying to grab it out of my hand before I can even throw it. So, using the sit-stay was also a way to calm her down, and get her behaved -- while focusing her energy on the retrieve. I had NO IDEA I might be making a mistake.

    Two specific questions I have from your quote below...

    Personally, I'd be far more concerned with building up the fun and the retrieving drive for a young pup and doing nothing to interfere with that. Once your Lab has become a retrieving fiend (or a reliable retriever) at about 8-10 months old -- THEN you can begin putting in barriers (like waiting to be released when you're sure your Lab's retrieving drive is maxed out at whatever level it has).

    For a Lab with a VERY intense drive to retrieve, you can probably get by with early delays. But for Labs with less than maximal drive, putting delays in so early in their training could, might, end up blunting or diminishing their normal drive.
    One -- how do I know if/when my pups retrieving drive is maxed out?

    Two -- how do I know if she has a VERY intense drive?

    I really want to know if I need to quit with the sit-stays when retrieving. I DO know that things have gone alot smoother with the "structure" of the sit-stay before the retrieve; like I said, she is so intense that she jumps up trying to take the dummy from me while I'm holding it, and through my entire throwing motion. I was literally having to snatch it from her and throw it in one motion -- just to keep the game moving/keep her from grabbing it. The sit-stays have REALLY helped with that aspect; the structure of it seems to be helping to focus her on the "retrieve" part (or at least, the "chase" part!). She will sit there in her stay -- leaning forward, almost "quivering" until I release her to go get it; but at least she is not jumping up and grabbing the dummy from my hand! Now, I don't know whether to stop the sit-stays when retrieving (for now, until she's older), or in our case to continue with the sit-stays given that it seems to be working better. Can you, or anyone else, give me some more info on this?

    I'll try to limit the chewing on the dummy, by reeling it back in with the rope. Also, thanks for the recommendation on the dummy from gundogsupply. The one I'm using was lent to me by my neighbor, and is canvas (don't know if that is good or bad...)

    Steve

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    One -- how do I know if/when my pups retrieving drive is maxed out?

    Two -- how do I know if she has a VERY intense drive?
    I'm sorry, i have no idea.

    I DO have an opinion that the most important thing is make sure the retrieving drive is very strong.

    My opinion also is that once that's firmly established THEN getting a delay trained in -- say at around 7-8 months age -- will be a piece of cake.

    But I suggest you visit the JL child board that deals with training HT & FT Labs and ask them --->

    https://www.justlabradors.com/forum/i...oard,11.0.html

    They'll have much more good experience than I have.

    My only experiences are with Bess, for whom retrieving was THE most important goal in her life, and Puff, for whom retrieving is a sometimes interesting diversion.

    My concern about putting the "stay-until-released" this early in a Lab's age is quite a bit from my experience with Puff and partially from my understanding of learning principles and critical/sensitive periods.

    I am NOT certain that my cautions are absolutely on dead center but I AM sure enough to say that they're worthy to be seriously considered and you ignore them at your risk.
    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":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    steveandginger's Avatar
    steveandginger is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: help with retrieves...

    Bob Pr. --

    I posted this same issue on the hunting/field trials board simulataneously with the post here; for what it's worth, many of the folks there echoed your concerns about the "stay-until-released" issue at her age. I obviously need to at least consider altering my tactics.

    One thing I will tell you that I mentioned on that board...and that is that one of the reasons I started that "sit-stay" thing (in addition to the "seeing others doing it" part -- albeit with much older dogs) was that Misty is SO hyper, that when I have the dummy in my hand, she is jumping up and trying her darndest to snatch it out of my hand. Sometimes, it was a challenge to even THROW the thing, as her leaping and grabbing it wouldn't even let me make a throwing motion. SO, I decided that maybe the sit-stay, and thus making her "behave" before initiating the dummy toss/retrieve, might make sense. Since I've started that, it has worked real well. She'll sit there -- with the look of "hurry up, throw it!" in her eyes, her body leaning forward with anticipation, until I release her -- and then she takes off full speed. It's almost like forcing the sit/stay (and thus a short wait) almost intensifies her enthusiasm -- allowing her to work up some anticipation while also helping her to not waste energy jumping up trying to grab the dummy! She seems more focused on the task at hand, when not distracted by jumping up and trying to grab the thing out of my hand! :

    Anyway, I'll have to think through this one. I'd hate to go back to the out-of-control hyper dog jumping up at the dummy before I can even throw it, but I'd also hate to "diminish" her retrieving drive (something I didn't even know was a concern prior to your post, so thank you!)

    Steve

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