FF question

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Re: FF question

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:34 am

I think our Vdogs are considerably different than the FT Labs winning at the highest levels of the Retriever Games. Whole kennels and distinct strains of Labs have been developed to withstand the pressure that comes with winning at that level. None of my GWPs would have tolerated that same level of handler pressure well, although I had one that came close. So it makes sense to me to consider different training methods for different dogs.

The practical skills needed for waterfowl hunting is a far cry from what it takes to win at the highest levels of the Retriever Games. And our Hunt test systems are considerably different as well. I see a growing body of PR trainers/handlers who are having a high degree of success with their dogs. The Perfect Retrieve DVD teaches Hold and then overlays low level continuous ecollar stimulation, bypassing the ear pinch. I modified it to include the use of a Marker word and treat rewards and was successful in training Spud to a Prize I UT at 18 months of age and more importantly retrieving waterfowl in an ice filled running river this past season.

I have had GWPs that flew through FF so quickly that I wondered if I had done something wrong, and others have taken longer. However, looking back I think every one of them could have been taught to Hold at a very young age using PR and that combined with nurturing their natural retrieve instincts, would have been all that was needed. This summer I mowed the CRP grass along side the fence lines in the horse pasture below the house. I then used those low cover straight lines for FTP drills. After a few reps, Spud was very likely to veer off and start searching the tall heavy CRP cover he was running past as that was alot more exciting than retrieving rubber bumpers. I tried to force him to do it anyway, he shut down and I knew I had screwed up. A sleepless night and the next morning I placed dead ducks at the white bucket down the line and Spud was running as hard as he could go down and back for the sheer joy of retrieving a bird.

I see a growing body of Amateur trainers having great success with their dogs using PR. I have no problems correcting a dog that understands why it is being corrected and can then react well to it. But there is far too much evidence on the power of PR for me to not continue to learn more and integrate it into my training.
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Re: FF question

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:37 am

I've been fling dog's for about 40 years now and have done hundred's of them. Over the year's I've modified my method's. I think there are two distinct way's to FF a dog; one for the field trailer, one for the hunter. These days I use a combination of treat's and hard force and I have found that the dog's progress far faster, are happier, and just as reliable. I've blended PR and FF and I think it's a very good way to go.

Today, I would NOT FF a dog with pressure only, nor would I train a dog with PR only. I want them to know that they HAVE to preform then are REWARDED for it.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: FF question

Postby 3drahthaars » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:55 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I've been fling dog's for about 40 years now and have done hundred's of them. Over the year's I've modified my method's. I think there are two distinct way's to FF a dog; one for the field trailer, one for the hunter. These days I use a combination of treat's and hard force and I have found that the dog's progress far faster, are happier, and just as reliable. I've blended PR and FF and I think it's a very good way to go.

Today, I would NOT FF a dog with pressure only, nor would I train a dog with PR only. I want them to know that they HAVE to preform then are REWARDED for it.


X2... bump!
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Re: FF question

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:00 am

GH, sounds good to me. I am by no means looking to give up my ecollar.

I am FB friends with a woman who has put a BUNCH of titles on her GSPs including VC. She put a NA 112 and then a UT Prize 1 204 on a one year old dog this summer. She runs them successfully in some retriever hunt tests as well, OB trials. FTs, Conformation Classes. Says she is near 100% PR based. I am following/watching her and others.
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Re: FF question

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:31 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Because PR and FF are two entirely different methods and have nothing in common. I believe if you look at the retriever games, which are the guys that have mastered and advanced FF, there is probably no dog running today that is competitive that has been trained with PR only.


Not so. They have everything in common except how they are administered. FF by ear pinching is what is called aversive training - the dog learns by avoiding pain. FF by PR rewards the dog for the behavior you wish to see. It's quicker and it can be taught to puppies. The ecollar is laid over when complete and is every bit as solid as any other FF method.

I had a griffon who was never FF'd by ear pinch and was as solid on retrieving as any dog ever was - and got an HRCH retriever championship. I currently am running a PP at Seasoned level in HRC and she was never FF'd by ear pinch. My wife is training a 4 month old Griff and who is coming along nicely and will never need to be FF'd.

In time you will not see anybody do FF by ear pinching, even by the pros. PR is just too powerful a method.
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Re: FF question

Postby JONOV » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:01 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I've been fling dog's for about 40 years now and have done hundred's of them. Over the year's I've modified my method's. I think there are two distinct way's to FF a dog; one for the field trailer, one for the hunter. These days I use a combination of treat's and hard force and I have found that the dog's progress far faster, are happier, and just as reliable. I've blended PR and FF and I think it's a very good way to go.

Today, I would NOT FF a dog with pressure only, nor would I train a dog with PR only. I want them to know that they HAVE to preform then are REWARDED for it.

I wish I had known that at the outset. The two things that turned a 180 for me was rewarding the delivery with the treat, and involving dead birds in the process. When I started I did neither, because I didn't know to do the former and I didn't have any of the latter.

I never figured out what I was doing wrong, and my normally eager-to-please dog hated it and it showed in the alacrity of his work. People would tell me, "well you must not have completed a previous step. Go back to the table." I knew that wasn't it.

As I've trained further and hunted more, I've uncovered other screw-ups or holes, but at least now I know to pair tit with tat.
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Re: FF question

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:14 pm

AverageGuy wrote:This summer I mowed the CRP grass along side the fence lines in the horse pasture below the house. I then used those low cover straight lines for FTP drills. After a few reps, Spud was very likely to veer off and start searching the tall heavy CRP cover he was running past as that was alot more exciting than retrieving rubber bumpers. I tried to force him to do it anyway, he shut down and I knew I had screwed up. A sleepless night and the next morning I placed dead ducks at the white bucket down the line and Spud was running as hard as he could go down and back for the sheer joy of retrieving a bird.


You're right. Vdogs don't like drills. They want to hunt. But you can increase the number of repetitions exponentially by simply giving a few pieces of kibble to the dog after it brings you a dummy. I drill my dogs over and over but I always pay them to do the tasks. There is no downside... the dog will always favor a bird over kibble.
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Re: FF question

Postby booger » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:21 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Why is nobody talking about PR? It's the easy way to teach this stuff. Plus you don't carry any fear going into it or any guilt when it's all over.


What is PR?
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Re: FF question

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:31 pm

Bruce, I am catching on :D

We are working baseball drills now with treats and Dolkens mixed in to keep things more interesting. Pleased with how it is going so far.
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Re: FF question

Postby 3drahthaars » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:32 pm

booger wrote:
Bruce Schwartz wrote:Why is nobody talking about PR? It's the easy way to teach this stuff. Plus you don't carry any fear going into it or any guilt when it's all over.


What is PR?


Positive reinforcement...
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Re: FF question

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:40 pm

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Re: FF question

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:52 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Because PR and FF are two entirely different methods and have nothing in common. I believe if you look at the retriever games, which are the guys that have mastered and advanced FF, there is probably no dog running today that is competitive that has been trained with PR only.


Not so. They have everything in common except how they are administered. FF by ear pinching is what is called aversive training - the dog learns by avoiding pain. FF by PR rewards the dog for the behavior you wish to see. It's quicker and it can be taught to puppies. The ecollar is laid over when complete and is every bit as solid as any other FF method.
A most confusing post. What do the two have in common? One is taught through pressure, the other through treats. Nothing in common but the end goal.

Bruce Schwartz wrote:I had a griffon who was never FF'd by ear pinch and was as solid on retrieving as any dog ever was - and got an HRCH retriever championship. I currently am running a PP at Seasoned level in HRC and she was never FF'd by ear pinch. My wife is training a 4 month old Griff and who is coming along nicely and will never need to be FF'd.

In time you will not see anybody do FF by ear pinching, even by the pros. PR is just too powerful a method.


You don't need a dog ff'd until you do. Once you do, you have nothing to fall back on if not ff'd. Certainly is a powerful method. FF is more powerful, more versatile, and more beneficial. The two methods combined are unbeatable. People that don't ear pinch don't understand it.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: FF question

Postby JONOV » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:10 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Because PR and FF are two entirely different methods and have nothing in common. I believe if you look at the retriever games, which are the guys that have mastered and advanced FF, there is probably no dog running today that is competitive that has been trained with PR only.


Not so. They have everything in common except how they are administered. FF by ear pinching is what is called aversive training - the dog learns by avoiding pain. FF by PR rewards the dog for the behavior you wish to see. It's quicker and it can be taught to puppies. The ecollar is laid over when complete and is every bit as solid as any other FF method.

I had a griffon who was never FF'd by ear pinch and was as solid on retrieving as any dog ever was - and got an HRCH retriever championship. I currently am running a PP at Seasoned level in HRC and she was never FF'd by ear pinch. My wife is training a 4 month old Griff and who is coming along nicely and will never need to be FF'd.

In time you will not see anybody do FF by ear pinching, even by the pros. PR is just too powerful a method.


I think that its ridiculous to say make broad generalizations about training methods on a macro scale. Sure, positive reinforcement is wonderful, and you can do a lot with it. But breeds of dogs are different, and different "lines" of dogs are different within those breeds.

But there are other dogs that are ridiculously independent and/or hard headed. Some dogs have a lot more (or less) retrieve in them. Even labs; with the industry of retriever trainers out there that get paid for results, you can't tell me that there aren't some dogs that get ribbons that lack the requisite natural retrieve most would expect.

I know one local retriever trainer that avoids it. Notice I said "avoids" ff. Not that he's abandoned it. I tried to get him to elaborate, and he didn't say (but I think the case is) that he doesn't want to send a lab home to someone he's taken money from and tell them, "it won't fetch, doesn't have much retrieve in him" but that's my impression. He prefers to use PR and teach a nice hold. I agree that people will lose, to a certain extent, some of their religious zeal for it. But it won't go away.
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Re: FF question

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:56 pm

AG: good video. There's a lot on Youtube showing PR in general but I don't know of a specific best one to teach fetching to the hunting dog folks. Most seem pretty foo foo for our needs, but suffice it to say using these methods are how dolphins are trained to find underwater mines and dogs with camcorders are used to to into buildings to find snipers, etc.

Using PR for FF, the dog will readily pick up a dummy or bird on command and hold it and that is only what you get with ear pinch as well. Thereafter, you overlay the lessons with the ecollar by giving the command "fetch" and simultaneously a low level buzz and turn off as soon as the dog picks up the dummy. After a few times the dog will compulsively pick up the bird or dummy. This is likely where you want to be, and you get there either way - ear pinch or PR. The collar can apply the needed pressure and can be done at distances for infractions and - no matter how you teach FF - your dog will need a tune-up from time to time. The collar is for reinforcing stuff the dog already knows - it is not being used for aversive training methods.

JONOV: Evan Graham wrote a treatise on FF (SmartFetch) and his force fetch ear pinch method is proclaimed by many to be the definitive method for doing this. In the book he describes how one of his most favorite dogs of all times, Star, "had been at it for nearly eight weeks, and had yet to reach for a bumper". Then "suddenly after eight weeks the light came on". He went on to say that she she turned out to be a "marvelous" dog. You may think it ridiculous for me to make broad generalizations about training methods but it's hardly a stretch to say PR would have gotten Star a long ways a lot sooner.
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Re: FF question

Postby JONOV » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:14 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:AG: good video. There's a lot on Youtube showing PR in general but I don't know of a specific best one to teach fetching to the hunting dog folks. Most seem pretty foo foo for our needs, but suffice it to say using these methods are how dolphins are trained to find underwater mines and dogs with camcorders are used to to into buildings to find snipers, etc.

Using PR for FF, the dog will readily pick up a dummy or bird on command and hold it and that is only what you get with ear pinch as well. Thereafter, you overlay the lessons with the ecollar by giving the command "fetch" and simultaneously a low level buzz and turn off as soon as the dog picks up the dummy. After a few times the dog will compulsively pick up the bird or dummy. This is likely where you want to be, and you get there either way - ear pinch or PR. The collar can apply the needed pressure and can be done at distances for infractions and - no matter how you teach FF - your dog will need a tune-up from time to time. The collar is for reinforcing stuff the dog already knows - it is not being used for aversive training methods.

JONOV: Evan Graham wrote a treatise on FF (SmartFetch) and his force fetch ear pinch method is proclaimed by many to be the definitive method for doing this. In the book he describes how one of his most favorite dogs of all times, Star, "had been at it for nearly eight weeks, and had yet to reach for a bumper". Then "suddenly after eight weeks the light came on". He went on to say that she she turned out to be a "marvelous" dog. You may think it ridiculous for me to make broad generalizations about training methods but it's hardly a stretch to say PR would have gotten Star a long ways a lot sooner.


I agree. I'm kind of surprised he kept at if for 8 weeks and didn't try something else. Clinging to one method like a religion, or a staunchly held moral belief, seems really common in the dog training world, and I don't know why. You see the same thing in education sometimes. I don't get it. You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to see that different dogs have different personalities, mature faster, etc...
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