there's a bunch of ways to teach a retrieve, and i think you need to take into account every dog and how they react, know your dog, your teaching style, what you feel comfortable with, and like someone else says, have a good trainer.
rah has an amazing retrieve - and its all play. after 3 years ive added some compulsion, but they are collar pops only - he will retrieve almost anything i tell him to retrieve purely because he wants to. the db is his most favorite thing on earth aside from tennis balls, and he will do anything to retrieve it. for him, he needed pretty much no training whatsoever except for some teasing with the db to jazz him up. i was able to teach him the individual parts of the retrieve with no force at all.
for berlin, she's a natural retriever and as a pup she would retrieve the db, but she doesn't WANT to do formal retrieves, so i had to use some compulsion to get the parts of the retrieve. i've taught her to take it, separately i've taught her to hold it. we've worked on longer distance take it's, and now I'm working on her moving with the db in her mouth and back-chaining it to front position, which is working better for her than anything else. together my trainer and i have decided that doing a full force retrieve is not going to go over well with her - - she's truly not understanding the point of all this, it's not that she is disobeying me, and we can get there in other manners right now. once you pinch, you dont go back. i can always do it later down the line.
last night berlin enthusiastically took it fron 3 feet in front of me and rushed it to front position for 6-8 minutes, which was a huge breakthrough - and i was able to do some moving fronts and attention with her as well.
So much of training has to do with motivation for the dog. FOr me, my dogs have a high level of precision I will demand of them, and they will have to be doing this things so many times - when Rah gets to his UDX classes, he has the potential to be doing this twice a day 3-4 days in a row - he needs to truly LIKE what he is doing. I want to keep him WANTING to do this, not doing it purely because he has to. I certainly instill some have to in there (you need to with Rah!), but I want most of this being "want to" when they do it - a lot of people have problems teaching extreme precision and keeping the "want to", and it's a very fine line. It's easy to get general movements and the basic concepts, but when you refine some things down to centimeters, exact motions, etc - a lt of dogs can find it demotivating (not to mention the people).
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more beatings, less love!