rescued lab won't retrieve
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Thread: rescued lab won't retrieve

  1. #1
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    Defaultrescued lab won't retrieve

    Hello,

    My wife and I rescued a black lab from a local animal shelter about 6 months ago. She's between 2 and 3 years old and will not retrieve. She will sometimes run over to the thrown object, but more often than not she runs about halfway and then loses interest. Any suggestions?



    Scott

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  3. #2
    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    this is just some thoughts, i'm by no means a trainer..

    what are you playing with? Have you tried different toys? For Rocky, it took awhile for him to fetch - he had little interest. Now he does but ONLY for specific tennis balls (so this probably means i'm not in the best position to offer any advice!)

    Try different toys. Balls, different shapes, stuffed toys, squeaky toys (you may want to borrow some to see what works before buying them!).

    Tease the dog abit before throwing the toy. Get them reallllly interested in the toy. If it works and the get it and return "near" you CHEER, throw a party, give them treats, just have a great time
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

  4. #3
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    sarah is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    Tease the dog abit before throwing the toy. Get them reallllly interested in the toy. If it works and the get it and return "near" you CHEER, throw a party, give them treats, just have a great time
    this works for Milly ... and now she'll bring it straight back to me. If your lab does it only once/twice the first time and that is it don't be dissapointed... try again the next day and try to get her to do it more and more when you play. Take baby steps and you may very well end up with a great retriever!

    One more suggestion I have is that if you know of someone who has a dog that DOES retrieve, have you lab in that dog's company during a retrieve play session. Dogs learn very well off other dogs too.

    cheers
    Sarah
    Sarah & Milly - Sydney Australia






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  6. #4
    sla
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    I'm no expert, either, but here's my thoughts, too.

    Start from the beginning,one little piece at a time. She probably just didn't get this game in her life before, and doesn't understand it? I would definitely take the advice and find an object that she knows is ok to have in her mouth, and is for her. Try a paint roller (puppies like these), a toy, and tease her with it and throw it, maybe just a foot is all. Your first goal is to make her want to go pick it up, and let her know it's okay to. Sometimes if you stay quiet it helps. If she picks it up, then praise. Do this just a couple times a session at first, and end on success. Let her end still wanting more, and having fun. Make it a game, and gradually increase the throw distance in future sessions. I usually put the object away after each session, so they don't get bored with it, chew on it, etc... I want them to associate it with the retrieving game.
    Then once she's in the habit and understands the game, you can start doing it outdoors more. Hope it helps at all.
    Hope you find the trick that works for you. Don't give up. It'll all come together!

  7. #5
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    Thanks for the help. I have even thought about attaching a dog treat to a toy with tape or dipping a tennis ball in chicken bullion. I picked up a squeaky toy today.

    Scott

  8. #6
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    Scott, we have a new member coming to our weekly LabFests with a rescued Lab similar to yours in the retrieving department.

    All of the other Labs retrieve and compete with each other to be the first to the retrieving dummy to bring it back. GREAT exercise for them.

    Below is an edited copy of my letter to him:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~

    Dear _____,

    While this was written for pups, it's also applicable for older Labs with slight revision.

    I buy our training dummies from http://www.gundogsupply.com/sofknobplasd.html and buy 3 at a time to save on shipping costs -- usually at least one B&W and Orange (dogs' color vision is very limited and they're not sensitive to orange but we are). But a rubber toy (e.g., a dumbbell) can be used, too.

    Just make sure you use it ONLY for retrieving -- not as a toy that your Lab can chew on because the grommet end where the rope attaches can quickly be chewed off.

    To interest your Lab in the TD (training dummy) I suggest you smear a little peanut butter on it and then teasing her to possess it, keep it just out of reach for a bit until you have heightened her desire -- then throw it about 25 ft. away (with a long line attached to it so you can reel dog and TD back).

    I think all other parts of the post are applicable. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call and ask me.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Teaching to retrieve --

    Always quit training while it's still fun and interesting to your pup/dog and it wants more.

    I tied a 25 foot/8 m. kite string to the training dummy (TD) or toy.

    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-TD end) of the line. Puff went after it and when she picked up the TD, I reeled back both Puff and the TD she was holding, praised her, and gave a few bits of kibble in exchange for the TD. You might also say, "__(name)__, Give!" at the time you're offering the treat and getting the TD delivered to your hand. Then you'll be teaching another 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 5-6 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 have greater reward effect.

    As your pup learns to retrieve and enjoys it, you can increase the # of trials, keeping it always below the point at which your Lab loses interest.

    Many people assume that a Lab should retrieve automatically, without training.

    While SOME Labs may, probably the majority need some training to retrieve.

    Chasing after a moving object is native and instinctual for almost all dogs but bringing it back to someone else and giving it up is not and that part often needs training.

    However, for many Labs, once they learn to retrieve, it's often the thing they enjoy most in life and some 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.

    But 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 seems to be a genetic fault of a few Labs (possibly a few other breeds, too) and is under investigation at a consortium of US & Canadian Vet colleges. The Labrador Retriever Club's website has a section on this.

    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

  9. #7
    kaznalf's Avatar
    kaznalf is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    My trainer has told me to start off in your hallway. Sit there with a chair and throw an object and praise when they show intrest in the object...could take some time though

  10. #8
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    I just tried coating various toys with peanut butter and attaching a string. She foiled me by simply licking the peanut butter off the toy.

    I tried tying a dog treat to the toy. She clamped down on the treat so I started reeling her in. She stepped on the toy and ripped the treat off. After the first time she would only bite the treat and not the toy.

    I don't have a hallway to block her into so I may try to rig something up with stock panels out on the farm.

    She will chase thrown toys now but once she determines there is no peanut butter she just walks off.
    I appreciate everyone's help.

    Scott

  11. #9
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve

    I just tried coating various toys with peanut butter and attaching a string. She foiled me by simply licking the peanut butter off the toy.

    I tried tying a dog treat to the toy. She clamped down on the treat so I started reeling her in. She stepped on the toy and ripped the treat off. After the first time she would only bite the treat and not the toy.....

    She will chase thrown toys now but once she determines there is no peanut butter she just walks off.
    They DO force us to be inventive, don't they?

    Do you have a Kong? They're hollow and you could put something she values inside the core, then tie your line through the hollow core.

    That would be simpler than building something and has the advantage of you being able to vary locations and directions and avoid training to a particular situation.

    But IF the baited toy has a high enough value to her so that she wants it, then your treat probably needs to have a higher value. For example, why bring back a steak and give it up for just a piece of lettuce? BUT -- to help you anticipate problems -- you do need to be sure you keep the smell of the high value treat from distracting from the training task.

    I think, in the circumstances you describe, your safest bet is to tie your retrieving line through a kong's core and then smear some PB inside the core, enough to interest her.

    Then, when you throw the kong (say 10-20 ft) and she goes after it, pull them both back. THEN give a treat that has PB. You can find some small thin crackers, about the size of a postal stamp, and use some PB between 2 of those for each treat. The smell of the PB on the kong and the PB of the treats probably won't distract her. ;D ;D ;D
    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

  12. #10
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    DefaultRe: rescued lab won't retrieve



    I would suggest that the thing to do is reward her when she hands it to you. What about making it really easy at first. What is she is in front of you and you toss the item nearby - maybe a foot away. If she picks it up you take it and profusely praise and reward her. Then repeat. Then try a little farther distance and see if she will pick it up and bring it to you. Then repeat. Then a little farther.

    She may have never been played with and may not understand the concept. My lab was not played with prior to us rescuing him and tennis balls would just bounce off his head when we tossed them. My other dog has pretty much taught him the concept - so using an experienced dog to show him how might help as well. He still cannot catch a frisbee to save his life! LOL

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