Another Force Fetching question thread...

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Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby JONOV » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:10 pm

Apologies in advance for the length, but I think the context is needed. I'm reasonably sure where I went wrong. My question is, from where and HOW to proceed. The dog is 17 months old, GWP...

I started the FF process on my own. I was limited in space living in a townhome at the time, but managed to establish a very solid "hold" foundation, and the dog could and still will hold whatever you give him and heel all over and wait till you call him and bring it to you.

I also got him reaching for dowels (and paint rollers and a hammer and a pvc pipe wrapped in duct tape) while on the table. At this point, I really struggled getting him to move his feet to take off the pressure. I passed him off to a professional trainer for a month (I had previously planned to send him to this trainer for a month as I was getting married) I had worked with this trainer before and had gotten advice from him before and during my start of the process. He also struggled to get the dog to move, but was able to get him where he was working on the ground with a check cord to and from the wooden DUMBELL.

I continued and progressed to where I could set three wooden dumbells out in my yard, give him a line off the deck, "Fetch" and have him jump off the deck, pick one up, retrieve to hand, resend him for the second and third...This isn't always as consistent as I would like it. When it breaks down, I run him down in the yard, ear pinch, make him pick it up, and bring it back. This isn't hard since when he fails, he either lies down at the dumbell, or otherwise stands there in its general vicinity. At that point I usually step back, shorten the work to several feet on the deck, get that re-established, and try to find a really high note and end the session.

The trainer advised that I don't work with bumpers during force fetch, that I keep those for water retrieves, which he feels is important to keep as a fun and positive experience.

Fast forward a little bit...He won't retrieve birds to hand. Dove season was very marginal for us so a very small sample size of work to evaluate, but while he did well finding ones lost in the thick patches and bringing them out, he doesn't want to bring them to hand.

Practicing a duck search, he has an enthusiastic and expanding search, and will swim for 10 minutes at a time and work beyond natural barriers like weed lines, and bring the duck back. He will then stand at waters edge, drop it, and start to "investigate" it, nudge it around, lick it.

Practicing a drag (and I've only used chukar since I only recently got my hands on some dead ducks) generally results in him throwing a party with the bird (throws it in the air, parades and prances with it...)

Predictably, I had the same experience hunting with him. He would sit quietly in the blind, honor retrieves, and retrieve with great enthusiasm when sent, but again, brings it to the edge of the water, drops and worries the bird. He did well searching for ducks in the weeds, and would pop out with them and bring them to me, but not to hand. In North Dakota, the first (and only) Sharptail either of us had ever shot, he wouldn't pick up. I attributed it to being a new species, but also clearly a breakdown in my training him.

So anyhow, I have tried to do short ground work with the frozen sharptail. It hasn't gone well. I think its too big and difficult for him to quickly get a grip on, at least right now.

This is where I'm at a crossroads. My wife and I have two different thoughts on the matter...She helps me training him and if I'm honest, most of the time she's a better trainer than I am although she doesn't always clearly understand the what/why of why I'm doing what I'm doing.

I'm thinking I need to work back to the three foot retrieve range on the deck, with birds, specifically thawed birds. I think that I need to start with smaller birds (chukar size) and work up from there. I THINK that when I have him reliably retrieving a duck, sharptail and pheasant in the yard, I move to a pond, and again start really short with the ducks a few feet away where I can correct and reinforce as needed.

My wife, from the difficulties in getting him to pick up and hold a frozen sharptail, has deduced that we should first get him retrieving anything and everything with a great sense of urgency and vigor before rewarding him with a mouthful of bird again. I think that it isn't totally relevant that he has trouble with a solid frozen stiff bird.

I do see her point, but I'm concerned that there will never be much enthusiasm or vigor for retrieving a plastic dummy or piece of PVC pipe or a paintroller, and that this will lead to me putting progressively more pressure on him til he doesn't want to go out for anything at all. As it is, sending him out after wooden dowels has a very limited hold on his focus (he won't put up with doing the drill all afternoon,) and in any case, I've never seen a pipe or a paintroller in a swamp. Or, that he'll come to dislike retrieving and do the head down, tail tucked retrieves that I've seen which while technically proficient, is the last thing I want.

What do you think? Work backwards and with a much greater variety of objects, or work backwards and concentrate with birds? If I do go straight to birds, frozen or thawed?
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:10 pm

Too much hodge-podge. Start from the beginning AFTER hunting season and do it right. A month with a pro is not enough to FF a dog. A pro needs a minimum of 6-8 weeks, six weeks being the minimum. You HAVE to get a dog in and out of force quickly to have a happy dog. If you prolong it as you have done with him, you can develop a sulky, belligerent, animal with no desire to work. Seems to me we just battled through a thread on FF here a short time ago. I'd find it and carefully look at it. I think I gave an explanation of hold on it. Hold is the basis for the rest of FF.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby JONOV » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:27 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Too much hodge-podge. Start from the beginning AFTER hunting season and do it right. A month with a pro is not enough to FF a dog. A pro needs a minimum of 6-8 weeks, six weeks being the minimum. You HAVE to get a dog in and out of force quickly to have a happy dog. If you prolong it as you have done with him, you can develop a sulky, belligerent, animal with no desire to work. Seems to me we just battled through a thread on FF here a short time ago. I'd find it and carefully look at it. I think I gave an explanation of hold on it. Hold is the basis for the rest of FF.

I understand that a month is too short to complete the job...just wanted to give background...Hold is rock solid...I made sure of that before moving forward... I would literally make him hold something long enough for me to go inside and pour a cup of coffee without him dropping it. I could give him something to hold and he’ll carry it around the block if I make him heal with it...
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:38 pm

Then Jonov, you have the battle mostly won. If he'll hold that well, reaching for a dowel should come easy. The tricky part about FF is applying just the right amount of pressure. If you can, I'd really send him to the trainer for 2 months and just get it over with.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:41 am

[
JONOV wrote:My wife, from the difficulties in getting him to pick up and hold a frozen sharptail, has deduced that we should first get him retrieving anything and everything with a great sense of urgency and vigor before rewarding him with a mouthful of bird again. I think that it isn't totally relevant that he has trouble with a solid frozen stiff bird.


Guess I'm with your wife. There seems to be some sort of disconnect between what he thinks should be done with a real bird since you aren't getting a complete retrieve. You also said he wasn't 100% with dumbbells either. Possibly misapplied force or uneven teaching is part of the problem. Regardless, I'm not sure I'd move on to anything else until he was doing dummies 100% with vigor. I would also suggest that you give the dog a treat (few kernels of kibble) with each retrieve to hand. This rewards the dog, increases his enthusiasm, and will greatly increase the reps you can do before he tires. You can add a clicker if you wish but isn't necessary; a "good boy" does the same as it tells him he's "doing good", and that's a lot more helpful than ear pinching, etc. at this point. With proper and timely rewards it won't take long.

So, that's my two cents. Also, it seems you've already gotten the hard part of FF out of the way. You could send him back to the trainer but in the meantime I'd do dumbbells, dummies - whatever - so that he goes and gets them with enthusiasm and ventually he'll do the same with a frozen, then thawed, then freshly killed bird.

Good luck!
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby Doc E » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:14 am

You need to be using frozen then later on thawed BIRDS in your FF program.
My method is :
paint roller
dummy
bird

1. Teach (HOLD)
2. force (Ear pinch)
3 Reinforce (ecollar)
.
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:34 am

Jonov: I reread the description of your troubles and want to make another comment. I'm wondering if you haven't created an issue where the dog doesn't want to get close to you with a retrieved object (dummy, bird, dowel, etc.). This happens when the dog gets its ear pinched when he drops the dummy (or won't pick it up), or gets reprimanded for bringing you your wife's underwear, etc. You said you chase the dog down and pinch its ear when he doesn't retrieve to hand, so it seems that bad stuff happens when he brings you these things. Thus, per your description, he may hunt well and pick up the bird but bring it only so far towards you before dropping it or playing with it, etc.

I'm not saying this is absolutely the case, but is something you should consider, especially because you're inexperienced. I previously suggested rewards for bringing stuff but it might be that you need to first get the dog eager to enter this "zone of punishment" happily before moving on to doing so with objects in its mouth. Reinforce the command "come" so that you get eager responses every time - use kibble. After a few days when this is down then move on to using a tennis ball in a hallway where the dog will retrieve but has no escape. Reward a retrieve with another throw of tennis ball or maybe kibble (or both). Don't reward for dropping the tennis ball - only on a delivery to hand. Later you drop the ball, say "fetch" and reward for the retrieve. Also, since the dog knows to "hold" (from the FF training) you can move on to reward for reaching for and holding objects other than the tennis ball. I say tennis ball because dogs just can't refuse one so it's a good starting point.

I realize this is a departure from traditional FF practice but you're stuck and it might be good to back up, think it through, and try another tack. This is sort of the "trained retrieve" method of getting a dog to bring objects to hand. Nothing wrong with traditional FF except when it goes wrong.
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby Chadwick » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:56 pm

Jonov,

How much hold work did you do with thawed birds? Generally, dogs are excellent discriminators, but poor generalizers, and some dogs are really poor generalizers.

I ask, because if the dog has been thoroughly trained in hold and thoroughly trained in a recall, then you should be able to put the dog is a sit, have it hold a bird, and then call the dog to you without the dog dropping the bird. That would allow you to focus on the area of the behavior chain where you are having trouble. Once that part of the chain is sufficiently strong, you can work it back into the complete chain.
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Re: Another Force Fetching question thread...

Postby JONOV » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:41 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Jonov: I reread the description of your troubles and want to make another comment. I'm wondering if you haven't created an issue where the dog doesn't want to get close to you with a retrieved object (dummy, bird, dowel, etc.). This happens when the dog gets its ear pinched when he drops the dummy (or won't pick it up), or gets reprimanded for bringing you your wife's underwear, etc. You said you chase the dog down and pinch its ear when he doesn't retrieve to hand, so it seems that bad stuff happens when he brings you these things. Thus, per your description, he may hunt well and pick up the bird but bring it only so far towards you before dropping it or playing with it, etc.

I'm not saying this is absolutely the case, but is something you should consider, especially because you're inexperienced. I previously suggested rewards for bringing stuff but it might be that you need to first get the dog eager to enter this "zone of punishment" happily before moving on to doing so with objects in its mouth. Reinforce the command "come" so that you get eager responses every time - use kibble. After a few days when this is down then move on to using a tennis ball in a hallway where the dog will retrieve but has no escape. Reward a retrieve with another throw of tennis ball or maybe kibble (or both). Don't reward for dropping the tennis ball - only on a delivery to hand. Later you drop the ball, say "fetch" and reward for the retrieve. Also, since the dog knows to "hold" (from the FF training) you can move on to reward for reaching for and holding objects other than the tennis ball. I say tennis ball because dogs just can't refuse one so it's a good starting point.

I realize this is a departure from traditional FF practice but you're stuck and it might be good to back up, think it through, and try another tack. This is sort of the "trained retrieve" method of getting a dog to bring objects to hand. Nothing wrong with traditional FF except when it goes wrong.
Your first advice was right on! I did some work last night with a bunch of cheese cubes as a reward after I got the object delivered to hand and it put a nice pep in his step. Thank you.

He doesn't mind coming back, I only run him down and ear pinch when he would refuse to pick up the object. I would praise him on his return when he'd give it back. If he dropped it short or halfway, I would run out and pop it in his mouth quickly, tap the chin and snout to reinforce the hold, and . But very rarely would he drop it once he picked it up. The challenge has always been that he would occasionally go out there and lie down at the dummy. And I have always corrected that.

Actually, since he was a small puppy I would always praise him for "bringing" things to us, since quickly taking it from him before he could chew it seemed like a good way to avoid the endless games of hide and seek and keepaway.

Chadwick wrote:Jonov,

How much hold work did you do with thawed birds? Generally, dogs are excellent discriminators, but poor generalizers, and some dogs are really poor generalizers.

I ask, because if the dog has been thoroughly trained in hold and thoroughly trained in a recall, then you should be able to put the dog is a sit, have it hold a bird, and then call the dog to you without the dog dropping the bird. That would allow you to focus on the area of the behavior chain where you are having trouble. Once that part of the chain is sufficiently strong, you can work it back into the complete chain.

You are correct. I didn't have birds (frozen, thawed or live) when I did my table work. Last night I worked with a smaller bird (frozen Chukar) and didn't have any trouble with the hold/recall chain. I'll build him up from smaller frozen birds till he doesn't struggle with it I think.
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