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More on force fetching

I have a 2 year old black lab that I just cant make understand the concept of fetch. She's obedient in every other way, heels nicely, stays, sits, comes and lays down, all on first command, never do I have to repeat myself. I had her obedience trained by a pro who said that she is a smart dog and somewhat timid (Laid back is what she called it.) So here's the story.

She will retrieve the first few dummies I send out but after that she seems bored, this happens on both land and in water and at any distance, I have already lost one dummy in the water when it floated too far away (it only started out 5 feet away from her). Once she does seem "bored" nothing will make her want to go after it. I have thrown rocks at the dummies in the water or if its in my hand I have tried to make her excited by playing keep away trying to tease her into wanting it, but nothing excites her, she's just not interested.

She doesn't seem to understand what the word fetch means or what I'm asking of her, even though I have repeated the word fetch a thousand times while sending her out on a retrieve and while she is actually in pursuit. I praise her when she does retrieve and ignore her when she doesn't.

So it appears to me that a force fetch may have to be called into order and this is where my questions lies. If she will not grasp the dowel how do you keep the pressure applied and put the dowel in the dogs mouth all at the same time? If I understand it correctly the only time you release the pressure is when they actually grasp the dowel, in order to do this you would need three hands one to keep the pressure on and two to insert the dowel or is it once that I have let go of the ear or toe (I'm not sure which one to go with yet) and released pressure to put the dowel in, that is the reward?

I'm a little confused on this. Could you also tell me if these tricks would work for applying pressure? If I choose the ear pinch method, could I use a clothes pin to apply pressure? For example clip the clothes pin to her ear and once she grabs hold of the dummy I would unclip the clothes pin to release the pressure and if she didn't grab the dummy this would free my hands up to insert it into her mouth without having to relieve any pressure and then once it is in I could unclip it.

If I were to use the toe hitch method could I attach one end of the hitch to her and the other end to my foot? For example all I would have to do is move my foot backwards to apply the pressure and then swing it forward to release the pressure and if she didn't grasp the dummy this would free my hands up to insert it into her mouth without having to release the pressure. I thought of these ideas on my own but didn't want to do anything until a pro like yourself thought that they may or may not work.

Thank you for taking the time to read my questions,


Well, there are a lot of questions here.
To start with, I am surprised if your dog was sent to a professional trainer that he did not do some forece fetch work with the dog. You answered your own question. This dog needs to be force fetched.

I think when you are going through this process their are times when you need four hands. You start by inserting a soft object. I like to use a new paint roller into the dogs mouth and saying in a quiet gentle tone hold. Praise dog when she does hold. Under the dogs chin take your finger and push up which will help keep her mouth closed. Slowly make her hold for longer periods of time. When she is holding well and understands this command, you are ready to apply pressure to the ear. This is the method I use. You can use the toe hitch, but I prefer to use the ear. Keep applying pressure to the ear. Instad of a clothes pin, have the dog wear a chocke or pinch collar, roll her ear back on the o ring of the collar and apply pressure here.

Most important is to have your timing correct. As soon as she reaches for item after pressure has been applied stop pressure. tell her hold. This process should last for 10 minutes if you can do two or three sessions a day you can get through it in a couple of weeks. You want to keep moving the bumper or dumbell or paint roller further away so the dog has to reach for it. You want to move it up till she jumps up for it then move it down till she is picking it off of the ground. Taking it off of the ground is the hardest for the dog. When she has the object make her sit and hold it each time. I like to also have her sitting when I give the command to fetch. Remember to stay calm, talk in a soft voice. Be in control. Use different items as dog progresses. You will know the dog is done when you can knock the object from dogs mouth and she without you saying anything lunges to get it.

Good luck.

Kim Moses
Hunters Marsh Kennels

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