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Old 11-12-2012, 11:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Training help needed - fetch Kong?

Hi,
A bit of background - Chanel is 5 & I got her in June. She's a kijiji dog & very mellow & sweet.

Chanel loves her chuckit balls. She's excellent at playing fetch & will also search in the house on command (albeit in an unorganized kind of goofy fashion) when we are going out. She's also good at 'Give it' when we are playing fetch.

She doesn't love or chew anything else - maybe once a week a stuffed puppy will get a workout.

I use a Kong for part of each meal, both as entertainment & challenge & to slow down her eating a bit. I usually hide it somewhere in the living room.

How do I teach her to go & get the Kong before each meal & bring it to me?

I thought (since she doesn't normally fetch or carry the Kong) that I'd try it with a ball first - but I can't figure out how to keep her calmed down enough to focus once the treats come out. She's sitting, lying down, running to find the ball & jumping on it - then looking to me for treats - but without the ball. Anything she can think of that normally would result in a treat, she'll do. Unfortunately I can't express well enough what I want done.

Basically, I can't figure out how to process the training so that she picks up the ball & brings it to me. What's my starting step? (I'm assuming that once I have "go get the ball" down pat, I'll put it away & work with the Kong.)
Kate
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's kind of funny...Elka taught herself to do this. She brings me her Kong when she's hungry (or if I'm eating something with peanut butter on it, as I always "plug" it for her with peanut butter). Our important thing (well, to me) is that she actually puts the freaking thing in my hand and doesn't drop it and run around in her excitement.

If you want to teach her the "find it" portion of the exercise, I can kind of help with that. I taught Elka to find Gumby one dismal headachey day when I didn't feel like leaving my chair but was still awake. First I just had him on the floor, in plain sight, and had her bring the toy to me (I didn't have treats, we did a play reward for that). Then I had Gumby on the floor and put a kitchen towel over it part of the way, so Gumby was still visible. Then I covered Gumby entirely (still right in front of her), at which point she did the hilarious thing of pretending to look around for it and then pouncing on the towel. We've progressed to where I can have her down-stay in the kitchen and hide Gumby, and cue her to "find it". She will also "find Gumby" if I don't know where Gumby is (under something, in the couch, on a different floor of the house).
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks GingerGunlock - she can find both the ball & the Kong, and if we are going out she'll find & bring the ball to the door with her.

The problem is the retrieve part of the process - getting her to bring whatever I want to me. I think I'll probably try without treats next time as they get her too wound up. She's eager to please & interact without them.
Kate
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by smudgeid View Post
Thanks GingerGunlock - she can find both the ball & the Kong, and if we are going out she'll find & bring the ball to the door with her.

The problem is the retrieve part of the process - getting her to bring whatever I want to me. I think I'll probably try without treats next time as they get her too wound up. She's eager to please & interact without them.
Kate
If you try to recall her when she has one, will she drop it or does she bring it?

I think we started with the "bring it to me" thing super early, because if Elka had something she shouldn't (like one of my fiance's socks that he STILL leaves around) I acted like she was the smartest, bestest puppy ever and that she should totally bring me whatever it was that she had. Of course, this turned into a "you're not paying attention to me? I'm going to bring you things!" behavior (she brought me a penny once. I still have no idea how she picked it up.)
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"Teaching your dog to retrieve by Wensy Beasley

Although such an important part of trials and the basis for all search work, I am amazed how many people teach the retrieve by ad hoc methods. Most are blessed with a dog that likes to chase, and if this is coupled with a willingness to pick up they feel they are half way there. All that remains is to persuade the dog to bring it back and it’s job done! However, although this may work for them it is more likely to go wrong, and the dog can let you down big time if it is distracted by something more exciting or just plain bored with the exercise.
The other aspect of this is that basically the dog is doing the job for fun and so there is no urgency or need for accuracy, as its only aim is for the handler to throw it again. So although it may come rushing back it will often stand off or just drop the dumbbell to enable it to be re-thrown, and this method rarely produces an accurate or reliable retrieve.


Step by step

Unfortunately the taught retrieve is frowned upon by many handlers, and it is often referred to as the forced retrieve, which gives totally the wrong impression. When I set out to teach the retrieve it is not a matter of force but a simple step by step learning process with a clear objective, lots of guidance, plenty of praise but no alternatives. The thinking behind this is that the dog must learn that when I say ‘hold it’ I want it to pick up whatever is indicated and give it to me, and whether the item is at my feet or has been thrown several yards away makes no difference as the requirement is the same. This simple command will prove invaluable later on when the dog finds something in the square which causes it to hesitate or possibly ignore, and a simple ‘hold it’ command will remind it to bring it in.
However hard we try and however much play we do with our puppies there will always be things that they prefer to pick up and those that they would choose to leave alone. Most handlers will tell you that metal is what the dog is most likely to reject, but I have found that some dogs don’t like material or cloth while others avoid picking up pieces of sponge or hard plastic. Whatever the dog likes and dislikes we must have a fail safe command which means bring it to me, and if this is done with enough praise and confidence building, the dog will soon bring in anything it finds, happily and confidently, without worrying about what it is.
So how do we reach this blissful state you may ask, and once again I must stress that it all starts with the taught retrieve, so let’s take a look at this and see what we are trying to achieve. The first and probably the most important thing to say here is that when I start teaching the retrieve it is always with a dumbbell and it is never thrown! It seems to me that if you start by throwing the dumbbell you are starting at the end of the exercise without ever teaching the beginning, so the first thing I teach the pup is to hold.
Although this lesson can be done with quite a young pup it is important to ensure that teething has finished and the pup’s mouth is not sore. When working with a pup it is probably best to kneel down rather than lean over, so I get down on my knees and encourage the pup to sit beside me as it would at the start of a retrieve. The dumbbell is produced with some interesting encouragement such as ‘look or ‘what’s this?’ so the pup’s attention is focussed on what is in your hand but it is important that this does not turn into excited grabbing or snatching as this makes it a tug toy rather than a calm hold.
To begin with it will be necessary to put the dumbbell in the pup’s mouth with the command ‘hold it’ but just for a couple of seconds at a time. You can do this by gently opening the pup’s mouth and placing the bar of the dumbbell behind the incisors, by keeping the head tilted upwards with a hand under the chin you can prevent the pup dropping it and at the same time lavish praise upon it and tell it how clever it is. Only ask for literally two seconds and then with the command ‘give’ take the dumbbell back and praise again.
Repeat this two or three times at the first lesson, and then release the pup with lots of praise and put the dumbbell away. If the pup resists or fights at this stage it is important not to get cross but to maintain a calm insistence, and go through with what you set out to do without anger or impatience. Think of it as administering medicine which the pup does not like but must have, and you will be close to the right attitude to teach the retrieve.
The most important part of teaching the retrieve from start to finish is not to allow an alternative. In other words once you have asked the pup to hold he must hold, but the praise and reward is well worth the effort. I mention reward here as I know some people would like to use food as a reward for this exercise and I have no objection to this, I just don’t do it myself preferring my dog to work for my praise. However, I realise that this does not work for all breeds or all dogs, so the reward must suit the pupil. Once the dog has had two or three of the lessons on hold you will see him start to open his mouth in anticipation, and taking the dumbbell without assistance is the first major breakthrough.


Facing the dog

Once the dog will take and hold the dumbbell by your side the next step is to teach him to bring it to you, which at this stage is just a matter of turning to face you, but is the basis for the final exercise, when as soon as he has the dumbbell in his mouth his first thought will be to return to you. From here it is just a step by step process of holding the dumbbell lower and lower until it is on the ground at your feet (or knees in the case of a pup) still with your hand on it and asking the dog to hold it. Once it will pick it up off the floor at your feet and turn to present it, you are halfway there and it is then just a case of placing it further and further away, and sending the dog but still moving forward yourself to assist the pick up and encourage the return.
Whatever you are using for reward be it food or praise it must be consistent and lavish, so that the dog is left in no doubt that it is doing the right thing, but by the same token the control remains to ensure that the dog is given no other alternative but to comply with the request and earn his reward.
Once you are able to place the dumbbell two or three strides away and the dog will pick it up and bring it back the time has come for your first little throw. Put in a wait before you send the dog even if you have to keep hold of him as this builds anticipation and makes it fun, and before long your dog will be doing a good reliable retrieve and will pick up whatever you ask him to.
There are no shortcuts to this lesson and it does take a little while, but as long as progress is being made and the dog understands what is required it will work and be worth the time spent. Without doubt there will be occasions during the lesson when the dog will say ‘no’, and you as a handler will need to apply the same calm insistence that you employed at the beginning of the lessons. You must remain positive, encouraging, and ready with the praise and reward so that the dog finds it easy to understand and comply with what is required.
So finally it is important to say that this is not a forced retrieve it is a taught retrieve and once they understand the lesson all the dogs that I have taught have absolutely loved it."
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerGunlock View Post
If you try to recall her when she has one, will she drop it or does she bring it?

I think we started with the "bring it to me" thing super early, because if Elka had something she shouldn't (like one of my fiance's socks that he STILL leaves around) I acted like she was the smartest, bestest puppy ever and that she should totally bring me whatever it was that she had. Of course, this turned into a "you're not paying attention to me? I'm going to bring you things!" behavior (she brought me a penny once. I still have no idea how she picked it up.)
If I recall when she has the ball she'll bring it to me. Then I use "Give it" to have her drop it at my feet or give it into my hand. (I'm not consistant.)

She also brings the ball & drops it at my feet whenever she wants to go out & play with it.

I'll try working with 'hold it' for a bit (per Matt's post) & see how that goes as a start.
Thanks!
Kate
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Gargh.

Spend a frustrating 10 minutes working on 'hold it'.

It was okay with a ball that she wanted to mouth anyway. She held it on her own & we exchanged it back & forth - but there was no learning process.

So I switched to a different ball. This one has a hole in it, so I figured I'd use it like a kong. She didn't want to hold it, she wanted the other one that she'd been playing with. Eventually, with a couple of treats rattling around inside, she would hold it for a few seconds & then happily nose it around the floor for the treats when I gave her the 'all done'.

I'm sure we did move forward, but it felt very slow & very frustrating. I'll try again later when we are both refreshed.
Kate
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