I've been working with a 5-month old chocolate lab pup (brought to me a month ago) but can't get her to consistently retrieve completely. She seems to become easily distracted, mostly by smells. I've successfully trained several retrievers since 1995, using 'Water Dog' by Richard Wolters as a guide, but have never come across this particular problem.
She'll run out to the item (ball, bumper, bird wing, bird, etc.) and sometimes pick it up and drop it on the way back, sometimes just sniff it and walk away, and sometimes actually pick it up and bring it all the way back. Sometimes when she gets distracted, if I keep after her she'll eventually go to the item. No guarantee on what she'll do with it when she gets to it, though, if anything.
She's played 'fetch' before, has never been scolded for retrieving anything, and was taken from the litter at six weeks of age. She does fine on her courtesy commands by voice, hand, and whistle.
If anyone has a suggestion on how to get the dog to focus better and bring the item being retrieved (ball, bumper, bird wing, or bird) all the way back, I'd like to hear about it. Emailing me would be the best way to get me the info (address below), but I'll check back here from time to time.
Thanks for the help.
BIG LAKE OUTDOORS
EMAIL: [email protected]
Just wanted to say that up until a few weeks ago, I thought there was no hope for Baloo to ever be an actual retriever. It seemed he'd much rather stop and chew on something than bring it back. :-\ I had resigned myself to the fact that I had a non-retrieving retriever.
But then it just seemed to click for him. I have no idea why, but it's like all of the sudden he decided he should bring the ball back. ??? Now he'll retrieve many times in a row, and retrieve to hand as well! Woot!!
I *think* a big part of it was taking him to the dog park, where he saw a bunch of other dogs retrieving with their owners. I guess he figured it looked like fun..... who knows..?
ETA: I should add Baloo's age, eh? Sheesh. He'll be 8 months on Nov 17th. I would say he didn't retrieve reliably until he was 6 and a half or 7 months.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Ben at first would not retrieve anything after the first 2 or 3 times. So i would have him retrieve a few times and then stop and play some more for a few, then have him retrieve. After a while i would add a few more retrieves to the routine and now he will bring it back all day long.
Bogey did the same thing i'd throw and hed run and lay down to chew! After a while I noticed that if I ran the other direction he bring it to me. More like chase after me but hey it worked! After a while Id add a "bring it to me" now thats all I have to say.
Courtney, Bogey and Calli
Hi John. Welcome to the forum.
How often are you retrieving with her? most people who are in the process of training a formal retrieve practice FAR too often. Retrieving is not something you should practice on a daily basis. I do one or two short sessions a week -- MAXIMUM. It's essential that you keep the sessions short, sweet and irregular for a young dog. If I am working with a young dog a typical session would be a bit of obedience (heelwork, sit-stays), a steadying exercise or two and then 2-3 retrieves.
For now, give the pup a break from retrieving. NO balls, bumpers or birds for several weeks. The only time balls and bumpers come out are for formal retrieving. Until then, they remain shut away and out of sight. After several weeks of no retrieving, take the pup out to an open space. Sit the pup up and tether her to something. Walk away from the pup and toss the dummy (lace it with bottled scent or attach some clipped bird wings to make it interesting) up into the air so she can 'mark' the fall. Walk back to her and release her for the retrieve. Do no more than two or three retrieves until she is bringing it back reliably.