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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so I have sat on this for a week now, and I have to get it off my chest: Open class is scaring the daylights out of me!

I came very close to signing Angus up for this class. They only have it once a year, and the training director asked if I was interested, but since we haven't even gotten his CD yet I decided to pass.

I am starting to be VERY GLAD I made that decision!

The class takes place at the same time as my Level 3 with Simon, in the next ring. Last week was ear-pinching week. :eek: There was a GSD and her owner, and the instructor was demonstrating the ear pinch. Here's how it went: The instructor was sitting on a chair behind the dog, the owner was sitting on a chair in front of the dog. The instructor was pinching the ears, and the owner was forcing the dumbell in the dog's mouth. Meanwhile, the dog was screaming like they were killing it. SCREAMING. Not whining, not whimpering, not yelping. Screaming. It was freaking horrifying. It was the same sound Simon made when Angus' jaw was caught on his collar.

The worst part: The instructor who was doing the pinching had this look on her face I will never forget. Remember, the dog is screaming and cringing and squirming, trying to get away. The instructor has this look of sheer determination. Her jaw is set, her eyes are cold, and she shows no emotion whatsoever.

I will never forget this if I live to be a hundred. Never. Seriously, I had trouble going to sleep that night. It was extremely disturbing.

A sidenote: This was the same instructor from a post I made a few months ago who was yelling at her dog at a Show n Go. Her sweet senior dog who, to me, just looked confused. She is also the only instructor I have ever gotten into it with at the club. She taught Angus' first Level 3 class. Couldn't stand her. But I digress.

So, last night was hit the dog on the head night. :eek: They were practicing DOR's and to get the dog to do it quickly, they were hitting them on the head with bean bags. ??? Not as bad as the ear pinching, but still. I don't really want to hit my dog on the head either.

Somebody please tell me there are other ways to teach this stuff?
 

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Trust me there are much better ways to teach a retrieve than the ear pinch. Sorry you had such a bad experience. I love Open and Utility--they are the reason I am doing what I do. They are great fun for you and the dog, but having a good instructor does make the difference.
 

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Force fetching does not need to be unpleasant at all. That being said though, what you witnessed was about the same as I did when Belle was about 2 years old, and is why I never force fetched her.

Recently though I took a basic retrieve class from another person, with Kodi and Hoss and it was a totally different experience. Positives were used for the most part, with some ear pinching when necessary. The pinch on Hoss was so light, that when the same pressure was applied to the skin between my thumb and index finger, I could barely feel it. That's all it took with Hoss. He's a very sensitive boy.

As far as the unemotional, grim expression on the instructors face, that probably was best in that case (even if the pressure being applied was excessive). If the person applying the ear pinch gets freaky and emotional about the reaction the dog is giving, then things will fall apart. (I am not trying to excuse the instructor, just saying that in that case, it may have been appropriate).

As far as te Drop on Recall, there certainly are other ways to teach it! I tried the throw chain and throwing a leash at Belle years ago, but I was not coordinated enough and did end up hitting her (was not supposed to). *I* was too emotional to do that kind of teaching, and went to other methods which worked better.

Sorry you had such a bad experience! As Susan said, Open and Utility are the fun parts of obedience, and is why I am trying to teach Kodi and Hoss through Utility before I even compete in Novice. It gives so many more fun things to do with your dog as you are working through the relatively boring Novice exercises!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm glad you guys responded - thank you!

Karen, that's what I was thinking too, about teaching them up through Utility before we did Novice. And I was also thinking that the exercises looked like more fun - until this class!

Let me ask you all a question - tell me if I am missing something here:

OK, Angus and Simon will both go get whatever you want and bring it back. They retrieve all the time, and are quite happy to do it. So, because they already get the concept of "go and get that and bring it back to me," do I even need to worry about this ear-pinching business? I have never tried them with a dumbbell, but I *think* they would do it. Especially if there was a hot dog in it for 'em. :p The big problem that I foresee with the dumbbell retrieve is mouthing, mouthing, mouthing, all the way back. ::) Is that why you do the ear pinch? To make them be still while holding it?

I guess I'm not really sure what the ear pinch is supposed to be teaching, exactly...?
 

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Connie - I agree with Susan and Belle's mom. There are many ways to teach every exercise and sometimes it depends on the dog. My older Lab hated the ear pinch method and I rarely used it because he got the picture pretty quick. And he is a lab so the retrieving part was always easy for him - the holding part took a little longer. However, we had a trainer who described our younger lab as a two by four labrador which meant in order to get his attention, you needed a 2 x 4 applied to his head - She was kidding - really - and yet her point was - he needs to be corrected and must learn to focus!! This same pup has 2 UD legs so I guess he did finally understood what was needed but even now his mind wanders.

You know your pups better than any instructor and you will decide what works best for each of them. I never did perfect Doro's long sit so that kept us from a CDX but he loved the Utility stuff and just yesterday I did the glove exercise with him just for fun. Susan is right - the more advanced it gets the more fun it is. B
 

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2yellowlabs said:
However, we had a trainer who described our younger lab as a two by four labrador which meant in order to get his attention, you needed a 2 x 4 applied to his head - She was kidding - really - and yet her point was - he needs to be corrected and must learn to focus!! This same pup has 2 UD legs so I guess he did finally understood what was needed but even now his mind wanders.

Oh, not Shamrock?! ;D ;D ;D
 

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AngusFangus said:
OK, Angus and Simon will both go get whatever you want and bring it back. They retrieve all the time, and are quite happy to do it. So, because they already get the concept of "go and get that and bring it back to me," do I even need to worry about this ear-pinching business? I have never tried them with a dumbbell, but I *think* they would do it. Especially if there was a hot dog in it for 'em. :p The big problem that I foresee with the dumbbell retrieve is mouthing, mouthing, mouthing, all the way back. ::) Is that why you do the ear pinch? To make them be still while holding it?
The hold can be taught useing the ear pinch, a collar tug, a chuck under the chin or purely positive techniques. I have used all on Kodi and Hoss. Teaching *hold* is a part of force fetching, but does not need to be taught using the ear pinch.

The point of force fetching is what happens when, at some point, your dogs refuse to fetch something. And, at some point, they will. As with any exercise taught (and they know what they are supposed to do), there *has* to be a form of correction ahen they refuse to do what you have asked...be it collar pop when they are out of position at heel, or run around a jump, go sniffing the floor while on a long down, or decide that something on the outside of the ring is more interesting that you are at that point. Those are all behaviors that need to be corrected.

I never force fetched Belle, and kinda wish I had, but she made it through CDX and UCDX without it. In our more advanced field work though she would occaisionally flip me the doggie finger and decided she did not WANT to do the triple mark, or after 10 bumpers she'd rather go nibble on the deer poop pile she jsut found.

Really, ear pinching, collar corrections or whatever form of force fetch you employ just gives you a way of telling the dog...*yes sweetie, thou SHALL go get what I just tossed or go get whatever I am pointing to* If the dog figures out that you will not correct him for not doing something, then you are setting yourself up for potential problems.

You may never develop problems with fetching in the ring, if so you're lucky! (If I remember correctly Belle muffed the retrieve over th ehigh jump only once, she just flat out didn't want to!) The ring is a stressful environment though and things can fall apart that never do outside of the ring. Just give some thought as to how you would insist that Angus and/or Simon go fetch that dumbbell should they refuse.

Force fetching does not guarentee 100% that the dog will ALWAYS fetch what you want, but it does give you a way of communticating with them. It is not the only way however! (I don't think there is anything 100% when it comes to dog training!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Karen, love it! Thank you! All of that makes perfect sense to me!

Absolutely, there must be some consequence if they refuse. It is good to know that you have varied these according to the dog, and still had success!

Great post. ;D Thanks for taking the time!
 

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You sure that wasn't Emilu and our instructor that you saw (had heard). Emilu didn't scream, but she did BLEED! We do not do the ear pinch.
 

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One other aside on this ... I've met some German (and Belgian) shepherds that are absolute, entire, complete screaming drama queens. My friend had her belgian groen. at a herding class, and when the instructor whacked the shepherd's crook on the ground about 8 feet in front of the dog, causing the belgian to flatten to the ground and WAIL like he was dying. So the shriek from the shepherd may or may not have been in proportion to the correction.

That said, the beanbag thing is just bizarre.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
UPDATE: Well, tonight I decided to play around with getting Angus to drop. Nothing from a distance, I just kept close. I got him to follow me around, sort of playing chase, then said "DOWN!" in a very excited voice and gave the signal. Sort of making a game out of it. He was dropping!

Does this seem like a good way to get started? He is very excitable and enthusiastic, as you know, so getting him to do things fast is not so hard. With Simon it would be harder.

The problem I have with Angus and down from a distance is creeeeeeeping towards me. I will have to figure out some way to stop him in his tracks. ???
 

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I will never use an ear pinch... ever. There are far better and more effective ways to teach your dog to retrieve. Ruger has a very reliable retrieve and we trained using fun motivation and a wee bit of collar pressure when needed.
 

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I read a really good article in Front and Finish about corrections - author believed that corrections would be needed at some point in any dog's training - dogs being dogs - but that each handler would need to determine the escalation needed to solve the problem. Dogs did need to learn that when asked to perform a particular behavior, NO was not an option. From what I read I see good trainers trying hard to help their pups perform the behavior requested, and using corrections appropriate for the pup when and as needed.
Isn't this what we strive to do? And yes, Susan, Shamrock!!! Betsy
 

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Connie - In the the Adv. Obed and comp Prep class I'm taking we have started on pre-cursor's to the drop command. I'm sure there are a lot of ways to teach this but this is how Tawn is having us do it. We start with a target using a towel/matt. In Nov. Adv obed we just walk the dog to the mat in heel and issue the down command and then keep walking - a walking down. Then we progress to telling the dog to go to place, so it serves as 2 purposes. In the comp. prep we have moved to now calling the dog as in a recall and issuing the down command as they get to the mat. We are just starting and so we obviously haven't gotten too great at it yet, but just getting Moose used to the drop signal when issuing the down has been good. My understanding is that as we progress the place/spot will get smaller until the dog just drops on command.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sharon, that sounds cool! I like it! Will try it!
 

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one good thing about a forced fetch is that it can be used in a variety of other exercises. teaching a forced fetch dog a go out is a really easy thing and it makes it very reliable. You don't have to worry about things like if their is going to be a center post in the ring or another post that may distract your dog. The only mistake i have seen on a FF'd go out was a dog that went out to fast and was outside the ring before the owner called and sat him, but I think that was the owners fault in timing. master hunting dogs are expected to go out 100 yards in a straight line through all obstacles. Field trial dogs are expected to go out 300 or more yards.
You can also use a force fetch for tracking.

Kelly and Amber
 

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Jack and I are taking an Intro to Open class and have never heard of the ear pinch! Our instructor had us rub some good smelling treats on the object, open their mouths, put it in behind the canine teeth, say "fetch", then hold their mouths lightly closed saying "hold it", and then "drop it" and give a treat. Gradually we've been increasing the hold time, using a lighter hold, and then using distance for the fetch command.

On the drop, we started by walking and then giving the down command with the handler staying by the dog. Then gradually moving more and more away from the dog after the command is given, treating all the good stays. We also play a game called "cookie, toss, down" where you throw a cookie, tell the dog to "get it", call the dog, tell the dog "down" while he is coming, give a cookie for a good "down", then throw a cookie the other way (past you), tell the dog to "get it," etc. (This means you never have the dog actually come to you). We also practice distance downs, starting pretty close and lengthening the distance as the dog can do it. After the dog can do all that, we start the drops, but alternate one drop recall with two regular recalls at first. Then changing to two drop recalls with one regular recalls, then mix it up so they never know which you're going to have them do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Good description kpowell, thank you!
 
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