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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there a trick to get a lab to release an object after he/she has retrieved it? Our first lab loved to retrieve. We taught her the command "release" by giving her a treat. She knew what it meant, but would only release if you had a treat for her.

Sometimes, if you ignored her, she would finally release it. But it was torture for her to give up her "prize," even though she knew that releasing it was the only way we could throw it again.

This is such a great site for ideas and suggestions!!
 

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with my first lab, i had to build his drive to retrieve, and using treats helped with having him go get the ball, come back, and drop it, and after his drive was increased, it was an easy transition to not using treats at all for the reward. being able to go after the ball again became the reward.

for my second lab, her drive was already so strong that i didn't have to use food rewards at all.
the only thing i had to do was not throw the ball unless she dropped it. instead of trying to steal the ball from her mouth or otherwise take it away from her, i waited until she released the ball. as long as she dropped it somewhere near me, i'd pick it up and throw it. the key is to not chase your dog or try to take the ball away. that's a different game, and it doesn't work well when you are trying to play a game of fetch.

after some time, i required my dog to drop the ball closer and closer to my feet before i would pick it up and throw it for her, and now i've got her trained to where if i ask for her to give me the ball directly in my open hand, she will. her drive is so strong in fact that she will pretty much do anything i ask her to do in order for that ball to be thrown.

if her drive is strong enough, i think you should continue to ignore her until she releases the object. with repetition, she'll learn that dropping the ball is more fun than just holding on to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm sure ignoring her until she releases it will help. That was probably our problem with our first lab. We "tugged" with her a couple of times to get her to release it.

And we tried the "give her one ball to replace what she retrieved." That didn't work. She would just take both in her mouth and be so proud of herself! :D
 

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I taught Buck to release after retrieving with food. He didn't have a very strong drive for retrieving either. Once he started dropping the ball at my feet without me having to ask him I started giving him treats for every other retrieve and am slowly weening him off the treats.

He did know the "drop it" command kinda well before I started working on his retrieving skills..so that came in handy.

Maybe you could work on the "drop it" command or call it "release" first and make sure he has that down decent. Then move onto retrieving and use it for that. Using "drop it" in conjunction to retrieving has also made his "drop it" skill better. He is soooo much better about dropping things he shouldn't have! I wouldn't give him an A+ for it yet...but he's definitely an B+ hehehe

The key is I noticed that if you throw the ball as soon as they drop it...like don't give him a chance to think...they will just chase after the ball and not think about the treat...this only works about 3 times with Buck now...used to be twice... ::)

Hope my suggestion made sense to you. I am not the best at explaining :-\
 

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Retrieving is the one area I don't use treats, the retrieve is the reward ;)

When they return to me with the toy, I love up on them for a few seconds and tell them how wonderful they are. I think this keeps my pups from playing keep away with me because I don't steal their prize as soon as they come to me. Then I lightly pinch their lip under their tooth while saying "give". As soon as they open thier mouth, I take the toy and say "good give" and immediatly start to get them excited about the next retrieve (tease them with the toy).
 
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