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Force retrieving with an E-Collar

Dear Trainer
I'm trying to know much force training is needing or is it an on going thing.My dog has been forced by ear pinch method to fetch it up.I recently purchased a e-collar for training and was told to force fetch dog with e-collar too.Is this to much for the dog to be forced by the collar or should I just reinforce the ear method?The e collar force was tryed on my dog and it proved to work but I'm concerned about her not always going when told to fetch it up and burning the dog. If my dog becomes collar wise is this a big problem?Hope my questions are clear to you.

Dear Mike:

If the force retrieve is done properly from start to finish the dog should perform as taught unless it is allowed to start forming bad habits without being corrected. The only reason to teach force retrieve to dogs with natural retrieving ability is to allow the trainer to correct faults. In other words if you give the fetch command and the dog picks up the object but only brings it part way then drops it. When you correct the dog it will absolutely know what it is being corrected for. A dog that has not been taught the force retrieve may be confused when corrected. The biggest mistakes trainers make when teaching force retrieve is skipping steps and moving ahead before the dog is absolutely solid on each step.

I feel the e-collar is a great tool to aid in the force retrieve process. The dog should be collar conditioned using a command other than fetch. (I teach kennel first then come.) Make sure you use the lowest stimulation that gets any response. The dog should be performing short retrieves off bench and lead before moving to the e-collar. When you introduce the e-collar into your force retrieve routine go back to the very first step using the collar for correction instead of whatever method you used before. (in your case the ear pinch) Start each step by applying stimulation FIRST then command. The dog already knows the command so it should respond. Keep using stimulation BEFORE the command until the dog takes the object as soon as it feels stimulation.

Once the dog will take the object using stimulation only. You can start giving the command before stimulation. And finally command and only stimulate if the dog refuses. After you have taken the dog through each step of your program using the e-coller and your back to short retrieves off lead. When the dog refuses to go when told to fetch. When you apply stimulation the dog will absolutely know what it is being corrected for. You are not "burning" the dog because you are still using very low stimulation.

A dog becoming collar wise is only a problem if you expect the dog to perform without the collar, However it's easy to avoid. Put the collar on the dog for a week or so before you use it for correction. Then always put the collar on when you are going to do something fun, Such as hunting, exercising, training etc. Before long your dog will associate the collar with all of these things and will be very happy when you put it on.

I hope this has answered your questions and let us know how things are going.

Joe Riches

For more information on force fetching, try:
What is the "Forced Retrieve"?
More on force fetching
Beginner's force fetching
Introducting live birds on Force Fetching
The Hold: The first step in force fetching
When force fetching doesn't work
Is force fetching with negative reinforcement necessary?

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