Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: New Jersey
Dogs Name: Sammy
Dogs Age: 2
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Thanked 204 Times in 124 Posts
What determines a good trainer?
Before you decide who to train with for the retrieve, watch how they teach it. Some people believe that without using force, the retrieve is never reliable. Some use the clicker approach. Others use play/prey etc.
I personally like Ivan's way of teaching the hold. Ivan explains it in his book, and it is my understanding that the retrieve will be covered on his 3rd DVD, which is about to be released.
Leerburg has a good DVD on the motivational retrieve with Bernhard Flinks.
Michael Ellis is a super person to work retrieves with. He also teaches the hold command separately. And he plays little retrieve games with his puppies from very early on with the toy/tug. He breaks the retrieve down in little steps that are very easy to understand for the dog if taught correctly.
Please do not try to force your dog to retrieve - at least without an EXPERIENCED trainer guiding you. I did the forced retrieve on one dog under supervision of what I then thought was an experienced trainer. Gosh, it was ugly. The dog ended up retrieving, beautifully, and everything I threw, but boy, did it destroy our relationship and his overall work attitude. I haven't had to force-retrieve a dog since - knock on wood.
You could probably put 3 "good" trainers in a room and get 5 different opinions on training technique. I think what makes a good trainer is one that can read a dog and determine the best way to get the job done.
When I started to teach the "finish" to Sammy, I used food. Sometimes he would come around and sometimes he wouldn't. The trainer told me to wrap the leash around the back of my knees and when I give the command to "fuss" (heel) step back with my right leg and pull the leash forward with my left hand sharply. In two days Sammy was finishing like pro. Some say the dog will wait for the step back and that is no good bot Sammy didn't.
It taught me that compulsion works (for my dog) as long as he knows what is expected.