Building Better Retrieves

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connorj
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Building Better Retrieves

Post by connorj » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:05 am

I am working with my 1 yo Lab/Pointer mix who was doing what appeared to be solid retrieving as of late. It was recommended to me that I start having her return to heel to finish the retrieve. Now she is dropping the bumper. I was wondering if anybody had any tips on this. I did FF work with her which seemed to be doing a good job but now I am thinking that was more her instinct/game than it was the training. I was wondering if anyone had any tips for teaching the position to return to on her retrieves. it looks like I will need to return to FF with her until she is 100% holding until asked to release. Also, reads on body language during this exercise? I do not want her to be turned off from the bumper and pressure her so much she breaks her spirit.

Trekmoor
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by Trekmoor » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:14 am

.…………"Don't do what does not work, do what does." ……………. Is there any good reason for training your dog that it must deliver from the at heel position ? I am assuming that this is what you are aiming for ? If it were me I would simply do what the dog was previously happy to do and I would accept the retrieve when the dog arrived in front of me. Then, after I had the retrieve in my hands I'd maybe command the dog into heel.

Personally, I'd go back a couple of training stages and let the dog run in for retrieves and give vocal encouragement as it returned with the retrieve. I'd probably walk backwards away from the dog as it approached me while still encouraging it right up to me and then praise the dog for as long as it still held the retrieve. Put the dog's enthusiasm back before it's precision for a while and don't try to train for an at heel delivery unless there is a very good reason to.

I never F.F. dogs, I depend on the dog really wanting to retrieve and I build gently and encouragingly on the dog's basic retrieve instinct. It works very well for most of Britain's gundog trainers....few trainers over here ever F.F. a dog …….but we still have keen retrieving gundogs.

Bill T.
The older I get, the better I was !

Meskousing
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by Meskousing » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:09 am

I'm working on my first "well-trained hunting dog" but will share some insights....

I dealt with some delivery issues last year. Mine were much worse- stopping and plucking the bird about seven feet from me. This was most pronounced at hunt tests. To fix it, I started working with a pro retriever trainer on a regular basis. Previously, I FF my dog to the best of MY abilities. The pro looked at my dawg and said we were going to re-do FF from the start. Based upon my experiences, I'll share what I think. FYI: Since fixing the issue, my dog earned his SH and WDX for the AWS Club. This involved him going 8 for 8 in two days.

You have two issues to fix. The return and the dropping. Separate them. Fix the return first. Stop retrieving. Every poor retrieve entrenches his behavior and will be harder to fix later. Teach your dog that 'here' means to return to heel. First use treats, then a check cord. With the dog a few feet in front of you and at sit, tug on the lead with 'here.' If he's a little slow give him another tug to help him pick up his pace. As he reaches you, use the check cord to guide him into heel. When he gets to heel, praise. Repeat. Over time, increase distance and speed of your dog. Over time, (after 2-3 weeks) we added very low nicks (we started at 0) on the e-collar. We progressed up the collar settings for several weeks.

After we ironed that out, we started the FF process. I will not try and explain that process. I just did what the pro told me to do. I have a very strong-willed dog and was told on two occasions that he thinks my dog is smarter than me. My biggest piece of advice is to get with someone that is very knowledgeable and experienced on such matters. Find a club, pro, or field trial amateur.

This is a very abbreviated explanation of what we did for my dog. I hope you find it useful.

Timewise65
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by Timewise65 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:09 am

I agree with Meskousing...but I will add a few comments from my experience with my Retrievers.


Dropping a bird on retrieve is a fundamental technique used to avoid a wounded bird from getting away. Many of us have had the experience that a dog brings a down bird on retrieve and drops it in the area around us. The bird then hops up and takes off, so delivering to hand is important and the FF is the primary way we teach that skill. It is not unusual for a pup to have problems with this element after FF, especially the first time they retrieve a bird that is flopping and flapping. Returning to the FF table is probably a good start for that skill. Many of us cannot FF our dogs properly (Lord knows I have tried)...you may consider working with a trainer or even letting a pro do the FF. Many trainers will do this for a lesser fee than doing overall obedience, provided they see the dog already has basic obedience down...


I beleive the reason we teach a dog to heal is having the dog at our side puts the dog in a position of safety when taking the bird to hand, away form the barrel of a gun and puts the pup in a place where we can take control via collar of attaching a lead, safely for the pup at any time. Coming to heal and the heal position is part of the very first obediance training for retrievers when they are only a few weeks old and continues for life. It is a fundamental position that we reinforce throughout the dogs life. As already noted this should be taught separate from other commands, use a check cord if necessary. anytime you say heal, the pup should run back to that position. left side if you are right handed, right side if you are left handed...based on carrying and gun position.


Good Luck

averageguy
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by averageguy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:41 am

Yep x3.

Separate and train recall all the way into the sitting at Heel position until it is 100%. Train Hold until asked to Drop separately until it is 100%. Then combine the two.

connorj
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by connorj » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:06 pm

Trekmoor
Is there any good reason for training your dog that it must deliver from the at heel position ? I am assuming that this is what you are aiming for ?
We recently had just begun working with a Sporting Dog Club in my region so I can get some advice and help from experienced handlers and trainers. It was advised that we now begin adding the position to her retrieves and not simply running into my hands with the bumper or bird. I know others will disagree with this but my form of FF includes positive reinforcement. So along with getting the dog to "HOLD", she is rewared with praise and treats to encourage what we are doing even though she does not want to do it. She has proven to be a tough/stubborn dog for certain.
I think the big key everyone mentioned here is getting heel trained separately from the retrieve or hold before trying to put 2 and 2 together.

Thanks!

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:23 pm

Its Just my two cents ..But I am an old Limey who just does stuff with dogs and people .
No Dog in its right mind would want to return to a place that applied pressure and be happy about it.(?)
Pheww! It is the basis of e-collar training/conditioning in all the programmes of Retriever training ..Is it Not ?
(FF is Not retrieving ..For the OP) ..Perhaps more understanding ,rather than You tube or Internet may be required .
Delivery to Hand is more important than place ,once that has been established ,you can withhold the take , until the place is established (If at the side is desired ) . Personally , It matters Not a jot to me ..as long as the dog delivers to Hand . It can sit at heel after the delivery ,ready for the next one :wink:
......
Pressure around the handler leads to much more issues that some Trainers have a thriving business on :wink:
Make it Fun . (Is my advice) .The discipline of polish in the finished article will come ,without Pressure (caveat being , you have a sequential process in place !)

averageguy
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by averageguy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:46 pm

Trailing on Polmaise's remarks,

I absolutely make it about fun from 8 weeks through the first hunting season and I do not attempt to make the dog sit and deliver during this period unless it seems easily inclined to do so. I praise the pup as it comes to me with the bird, when it arrives I let it hold the bird praising as I do and then take it gently away. I always let the pup know I am thrilled when it brings me something especially game.

Key to that is a strong recall where the pup is already well trained to come straight towards and completely to me when I call it. And that is done separately from retrieving first and then combined with it. If a pup will not reliably come to directly to you quickly when called, it sure will not when it gets a bird in its mouth, is my experience.

After the first hunting season and before the second is where and when we start working on adding some sit and deliver polish necessary to run and pass an upper level Hunt Test.

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:09 pm

averageguy wrote: After the first hunting season and before the second is where and when we start working on adding some sit and deliver polish necessary to run and pass an upper level Hunt Test.
Over here ,we shape all the behaviours before Hunting season ,so that we have them ready for that place . Then the Training begins for real.
Never took one in the Field - Of Battle never mind a Gun Dog ,unless it knew the drills in training .
The age /Pup is actually not what should concern most folk , (imo) ..More what has been put in to the dog before the event (s) .
These three pups at 9 month old have understood Right and left hand healing and Right and left hand casting and hold and delivery ..and most Importantly ..(For me ) ..Get back as quick as You went :wink: ....with process and control and hey , lets do it again ? > In turns with honour and steadiness. ..That suits me .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vnkroc0fA0

Timewise65
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by Timewise65 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:20 pm

With Retrievers in the USA we do obedience training starting around 12 weeks. That typically includes sit, here (recall), down (laydown), give (to hand), drop (drop what you have) and heal (on one side and when walking slow or fast) This is all done using positive reinforcement, verbal, petting and treats, coupled with pinch collars (Not all use this technique but I like it as it lays the foundation for collar training).


This first phase prepares the pup for yard training that begins usually at 16-18 weeks. All of the above commands are continued adding more distance and distractions. From these everything else is added sequentially after each skill is 100% before going forward. Force Fetch is usually done around 6 months of age, but only if these first steps of obedience is 100% with distance and distractions in place, this confirms the pup is mature enough mentally to deal with FF. The amount of pressure applied is minimized at all times depending on the dog. Many require little or no pressure as the positive reinforcement works. Many pro's use little to no pressure on FF now...no toe pinch or ear pinch just positive reinforcement until they do the last step which for many now is collar conditioning.


Of course there are exceptions and many other ways to train, this is just what I have learned with my retrievers and trainers over the last 30 years or so...

averageguy
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by averageguy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:28 pm

I prepare my Pups to do a lot in their first seasons. Doves, Hunt For, Point and Retrieve Upland Birds, Waterfowl and Blood Tracking. I work on the critical areas going into their first season and save the Hunt Test polish items until the following Summer. They all heel early on, but I do not require them to sit while delivering a retrieved bird.

Here is my Pup at 7 months on his first dove hunt where he retrieved 30 Doves. I am praising him while he holds the dove before I take it away. The Pup sat at heel beside me while I sat on a stool, marked birds, ran to his mark and straight back to me with the bird, hunted dead for birds in heavy cover as needed and recovered every bird we shot down. I am more than ok with that from a 7 month old pup.

Image

Here we are exactly one year later after we put some polish to the delivery.

Image

If you can read a dog, it is obvious he loves his work in both photos.

I work to get the critical stuff right, in the right order, at the right time in bringing my puppies along.
Last edited by averageguy on Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:42 pm

Here is my Pup retrieving ..if it is an age thing ?
I think Not !..At 12 weeks old though He is doing fine for a Cocker . 8) :D
S1460031.JPG
S1460031.JPG (225.07 KiB) Viewed 902 times

averageguy
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by averageguy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:52 pm

Yea I have one of those photos too, Robert.

Image

What I thought we were discussing was when putting more pressure around a pup bringing us a bird was advisable.

I am of the practice of delaying the added pressure of requiring a puppy to sit at heel while delivering a retrieved bird until after their first hunting seasons, (given all my puppies have been 5 to 7 months old when their first seasons started). I win the War while also avoiding the battles. The advise I give reflects that.

Back to OP.

A crisp recall in all situations is the first must have training item. And a well trained Hold command is the second. When both are in place you can combine the two and have the training in place for your pup to sit and deliver the bird in front of or beside you whichever is your preference.

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:34 pm

averageguy wrote:Yea I have one of those photos too, Robert.

Image

What I thought we were discussing was when putting more pressure around a pup bringing us a bird was advisable.

I am of the practice of delaying the added pressure of requiring a puppy to sit at heel while delivering a retrieved bird until after their first hunting seasons, (given all my puppies have been 5 to 7 months old when their first seasons started). I win the War while also avoiding the battles. The advise I give reflects that.

Back to OP.

A crisp recall in all situations is the first must have training item. And a well trained Hold command is the second. When both are in place you can combine the two and have the training in place for your pup to sit and deliver the bird in front of or beside you whichever is your preference.
Yea those pics are abundant .... Just thought the usual ..side track away from the issue was being used by some :roll: :wink:
I agree ! ..Many battles are not worth fighting , they resolve themselves without a drill or exercise ... Once the delivery to hand is achieved with No Pressure , then all one has to do ...Is Not take it ? ... Dog Sits as a matter of (well what is happening here) . Handler introduces new Command ..(Dead/Give /whatever) .. Then Heel ... You can take it from here for a delivery at heel position if you like . .lol

averageguy
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by averageguy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:51 pm

I thought my posts were right in line with the theme of Bill T's post about using a progression of fun with commands to heel following, which I also thought I heard you saying in not applying pressure to heel until after taking the bird. Gotta say it sure seems like you like to pick at my posts, Even when I am trying to agree with you!

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:37 pm

averageguy wrote:I thought my posts were right in line with the theme of Bill T's post about using a progression of fun with commands to heel following, which I also thought I heard you saying in not applying pressure to heel until after taking the bird. Gotta say it sure seems like you like to pick at my posts, Even when I am trying to agree with you!
Lost in Translation /Text mate . :wink:
...
Saying that ,,,, If You ryme with Bill T post ,then perhaps include it ..to follow the theme . :wink:
atb .
R.

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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by Trekmoor » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:43 am

:lol: Robert (Polmaise) and I have had several disagreements but he isn't as bad in person as he can appear to be in print ! :lol:
Anyway, I never worry about it coz I know I'm right and he is wrong ! 8) :lol: :lol:

I think all three of us are in broad agreement that giving a pup or young dog worries and anxieties about how to present a dummy or a bird can be a major factor in causing the dog to start having retrieve problems where there were none to begin with.

Over the last few years my health has deteriorated to the point where I was causing delivery problems in my pups. About 22 months back I bought myself a lab pup to be my last ever gundog and she, like most labs, was a very natural retriever. I had no problems getting her to retrieve but I noticed the start of the same problem I've recently been having with a previous pup beginning to rear it's ugly head.


The problem was this.... I get very dizzy when I bend to take dummies from a pup and tend to fall on top of it ! This caused an understandable reluctance on the pups part to come right in to me when delivering and also caused the pups to do a head low, rather fidgety delivery. To some extent using a chair to sit on during retrieves helped but I don't take a chair to shoots with me. I had to find a way of me standing up fairly straight or at least not bending far over when I took dummies from a pup.


I decided to do what I'd always been told not to do with gundogs for gun safety reasons. I encouraged the lab pup to do a "jump up" style delivery. She was to come right into me then stand on her hind legs and place her front paws on my stomach while still holding the dummy. That meant I did not have to bend over at all to accept the dummy.


I then modified this to having her come in and wait right in front of me for a hand signal that gave her permission to complete the "jump up" delivery. This worked very well and she came in and waited with her head and the dummy held high for that hand signal (I pat my stomach.) I could now choose to either take the dummy with only minimal bending or I could give the hand signal for the jump up. The "jump up" she now regarded as a retrieve reward ....dogs like to jump on their owners !


I took her to shoots last season when she was just 9 months old and she delivered pheasants whether dead or still very much alive in exactly the same way as she'd done with the dummies. I had no delivery problems at all with her because she'd never been given any anxieties while delivering.


Very often it is not the pup or dog that has a problem that needs sorting out .....it is the owner. Try not to make anxieties for your pup and you will have fewer anxieties yourself.


Bill T.
The older I get, the better I was !

polmaise
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by polmaise » Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:58 pm

Trekmoor wrote::lol: Robert (Polmaise) and I have had several disagreements but he isn't as bad in person as he can appear to be in print ! :lol:
Anyway, I never worry about it coz I know I'm right and he is wrong ! 8) :lol: :lol:
Bill T.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Always .

connorj
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Re: Building Better Retrieves

Post by connorj » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:18 pm

I really appreciate all the positive feedback and that there are a lot of people focusing on fun and encouragement over applying lots of pressure. This is my first gun dog and so I am at times struggling with how I get the dog to continue to learn and be engaged and get better and simultaneously not apply too much pressure. I want to try and keep expectations appropriate for the dog and myself which I think is easier said than done at times.

Are there any good books out there that focus on this style of gun dog training? Additionally, any tips for helping to better understand my pup is really apprecaited. I am still new to the forum so I am still exploring past topics and resources on the site.

Thanks again everyone!

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