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Get the bunnies!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For you Rosemary! Everyone else feel free to share how you trained the retrieve... Elsie is my first competitive obedience dog, so this was my first time training the retrieve and so far I am happy with the result... Too early to see any problems yet though hahaha.

First off I used a clicker to shape her to pick up the dumbbell from my hand with her in a sit and build up to her holding it. Then put the dumbbell on the floor and started rewarding her for picking it up, building up to picking it all the way up and coming towards me. Next started moving back away from her when she was carrying it to encourage her to come sit in front of me. Put all that together, started getting her to wait while I throw it (she has a VERY good wait regardless of distractions) and sending her to get it and bring it back.

Somewhere in there she started chewing the dumbbell so had to fix that... Had a look on google and found a DT thread about discouraging chewing. The thread said something along the lines of force the dumbbell into dogs mouth and hold it there until dog keeps still then let him release it.

So I changed that up a bit, used a clicker to get her very comfortable with me holding her muzzle shut/still (comfortable enough that she is forcing her muzzle into my hands for treats), then got her to hold the dumbbell and I held her mouth still - reward, slowly fade hands... Seems to have worked so far!

In true Elsie fashion she is super enthusiastic and races to the dumbbell and does a dramatic skid and she picks it up, spins around and races back full speed... She is just SO FUN!
 

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You can't kill the metal
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I use my hallway.

I just threw the ball down the hallway and she would go get it and run past me. She had no other way to go except back towards me.

To get her to stop runing past me I clicked when she got close to me. Which ended up with her immediately droppping the ball and it rolling away.

After a little while of that I started asking her to "get the ball" (pointing towards it) after it rolled away, she would get it but her drop was still sloppy and would roll away again, I still treated her for getting it a second time.

After a while of that I simply kept asking her to get the ball if it rolled away and she eventually figured out that I wanted it to drop at my feet.

This was all well and good inside, however, outside she will not retrieve. I haven't worked on it as much outside. When I throw the ball it's always at the dog park, so either she gets it and plays chase with the other dogs, or another dog gets it and she chases. lol
 

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Got mutt?
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Thanks, Disco. My first question is, how did you get her to even take the dumbbell from your hand? Did you start by just having her touch it? Would putting a treat in my hand, along with the dumbbell help, do you think?

Her dumbbell is the proper size, and made out of wood. She hated the plastic one I got.
 
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Have you ever done any shaping? My experience is with hunt training so it may vary slightly. I shaped a take it and hold it with a training dummy with Gabby. I shaped the take it first. When that was solid we worked on hold it. She was fine with birds.

Havoc on the other hand doesn't like the dummy that much nor the feathers. So I took his favorite ball and taught him what I wanted as far as "fetch it up." He is a natural fetcher so I used this to my advantage. Then I put one wing on it. I shaped him to take it and hold it. Then two wings. Then I tossed it and asked him to fetch it up (since he knew that command) and voila. Bird retrieve.

I wouldn't put a treat in your hand. If at all possible, click/treat for looking at it. Then getting close to it. Then nosing it. The mounthing it. Then picking it up. I personally find I get the strongest behaviors when I shape them and they have to figure out what I want.
 

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I did basically what Adara did with the shaping. It was the first exercise I had used shaping for and it worked well! I used 'hold' for building duration, 'out' for give, 'bring' for go get, and because of his foundation work, if called to me with or without a formal 'here', he will sit in the front position, so naturally when he went to 'bring' he would come to front position. After I got him to walk towards me with it like disco, I would put zeus in a sit, put the baton in front of him, take a couple steps away and say 'bring!'. In which he would pick it up and bring it to me. After adding length to that exercise, I began the whole thing with heel position, sit, throw out, etc. Biggest thing to remember: patience!!! It WILL come.

Also, my trainer and others advised not use a dumbbell to begin. Especially since you have not trained it before. I used easy object first (a glove, a hat, a light baton like thing, etc). It could not get him to take hold of a plastic or wooden object so I first used a hat to teach 'take' (mouth it, hold it etc). Then transferred the commands to other objects. With schH you use a weighted dumbbell which is our issue now as he has weak jaw muscles and a tough time holding it. When moving from light object to the dumbbell, I took 3 steps back in training. You don't want to ask too much too soon. I've also read that when you start asking for the retrieve in different places, also take it back a step or two. First time I did it outside, all I could get was a mouthing/hold.
 

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Get the bunnies!
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I use my hallway.

I just threw the ball down the hallway and she would go get it and run past me. She had no other way to go except back towards me.

To get her to stop runing past me I clicked when she got close to me. Which ended up with her immediately droppping the ball and it rolling away.

After a little while of that I started asking her to "get the ball" (pointing towards it) after it rolled away, she would get it but her drop was still sloppy and would roll away again, I still treated her for getting it a second time.

After a while of that I simply kept asking her to get the ball if it rolled away and she eventually figured out that I wanted it to drop at my feet.

This was all well and good inside, however, outside she will not retrieve. I haven't worked on it as much outside. When I throw the ball it's always at the dog park, so either she gets it and plays chase with the other dogs, or another dog gets it and she chases. lol

Elsie has always fetched a ball and brought it back, from about 12 weeks old (even at agility training with all the other dogs around) but it's a little different to a formal dumbbell retrieve for obedience where I want her to go to the dumbbell, pick it up properly and bring it back without chewing on it, sit in front of me and hold it until I take it from her.
 

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Get the bunnies!
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Disco. My first question is, how did you get her to even take the dumbbell from your hand? Did you start by just having her touch it? Would putting a treat in my hand, along with the dumbbell help, do you think?

Her dumbbell is the proper size, and made out of wood. She hated the plastic one I got.
I don't use lures at all. Elsie has done a LOT of shaping so really gets the game and understands that when mum has the clicker and a new object out, throw every behaviour you can at it. She tried nosing it, pawing at it, resting her chin on it and eventually licking, and biting. I didn't click for behaviours involving feet at all, and quickly upgraded the criteria so she only got clicked for taking it properly in her mouth in the middle of the dumbbell (no grabbing the edges etc.).

We have a wooden dumbbell too.
 

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Thanks, Disco. My first question is, how did you get her to even take the dumbbell from your hand? Did you start by just having her touch it? Would putting a treat in my hand, along with the dumbbell help, do you think?

Her dumbbell is the proper size, and made out of wood. She hated the plastic one I got.
If you want to free shape it go find shirley chongs retrieve. She breaks down the free shaping process beautifully. I used her method with several dogs, one being a sibe!! The onle place the free shaping fell apart was the step where the dumbell is on the ground without my hand touching it, and i resorted to Peanut butter on the bar for about 20 reps, and i did It with all 3 dogs (sibe, bouvier and a dobe).

It also helps a trainer with free shaping, and even tho it has 30 some steps it goes very fast.

Altho now I use mike ellis method, as it is less frustration. I have a very soft tempered sIbe right now, and he is progressIng very well but at some point i forsee havIng to use some form of Compulsion to finish it as he has no inage retrieve drive.

Oh as well Agree that you should use a neutral object to start the retrieve and not a dumbell. If you make a mistake in shaping the retrieve using a neutral object will save your dumbell if you need to start over.
 

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I have had a few labs in my life, lol.....

I just remember my BIL years ago loosing his lab, moving on and going to adopt a new dog.

His first question was...."does it retrieve?"

They said no, and he said "Done deal"

:D

Be careful what you wish for.......;)

I know the instinct to retrieve is different in other breeds. I just always remember being at a place in my youth, and the lab kept bringing bottle caps to throw.......ugh.
 
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