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Force Fetching - when the ear pinch doesn't work

I am force fetching my first dog. I am using the ear pinch but he does not seem to respond other than moving around and whining. Is there a collar or something I can do to get more pressure, if that is what I need to do.


I would recommend that you work the dog on a force fetch table with the collar secured to a post on the table. This removes the option to move around to avoid the pressure.

If the dog still won't reach out and grab the dowel or bumper, you can start by loading the pressure on the "back end" of the behavior. Do this by placing the dowel in the dog's mouth by opening his mouth and putting it there. He will fight you at first. Hold his mouth closed with one hand while you slip the thumb of the other hand into his ear. Now release his mouth and let him drop the dowel. When he does immediately pinch and hold the ear. Pick up the dowel and try to get into his mouth again, while still pinching if you can. The dog will quickly learn that if the dowel falls out of his mouth, the pressure is applied.

In time he will start to hold it solidly and will eventually start to reach out to grasp the dowel BEFORE pressure is applied.

It will take some time and it can be a technical process. It is critically important that you stay calm and emotionless during this time. Frustration and anger on your part will stress the dog and make it very difficult for him to learn. Remember to always praise quietly when the dowel is in the dog's mouth (even if you put it there) and say nothing if he drops it.

For more detailed information on the force fetch, please go to my site at and download the "Fetch" book.

Best of luck.

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retrievers

For more information on force fetching, try:
What is the "Forced Retrieve"?
Force retriving with an E-Collar
More on force fetching
Beginner's force fetching
Introducting live birds on Force Fetching
The Hold: The first step in force fetching
Is force fetching with negative reinforcement necessary?

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