Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby orhunter » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:38 pm

"If your dog doesn't need to be "forced," why are you doing it?" Those words should be etched in stone. That's what I like about a "conditioned retrieve." Avoiding force.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:57 pm

orhunter wrote:"If your dog doesn't need to be "forced," why are you doing it?" Those words should be etched in stone. That's what I like about a "conditioned retrieve." Avoiding force.


Me too.

The answer as to "why" is in this thread. Following the herd. The loudest, most common advice offered on the subject is why so many amateurs repeat what they are told - they must FF their dogs which already have excellent genetic natural retrieve. This mythical benefit stuff always comes up. I don't buy it at all.

We do not use negative re-enforcement to initially train Here/Come, Down, Stay, Kennel but for some reason it must be used first when training Fetch. We use positive re-enforcement when developing young dogs Pointing but some how are constantly told negative re-enforcement must be used early in the process when training Fetch when most Vdogs have strong genetics for both. I don't buy it.

Using Negative Re-enforcement once a command has already been trained is pretty standard stuff, and well understood and accepted by mentally sound dogs. But some how we are constantly told the order must be reversed when training Fetch. We must use negative re-enforcement to get the dog reaching for the dummy and moving for the dummy vs positive re-enforcement or otherwise the dog will not be reliable even after an ecollar is overlayed. Which is how corrections are made in the field anyway...

I am not a blind follower and have looked around a good deal at what some other innovators are doing. There are other ways and for alot of amateurs and their well bred Vdog breeds they are likely better ways.

FTBs,

Check out Bill Hillman. A Pro Trainer with more than his share of success in the Retriever Games. Used to FF, does not now. Google him. He has written about his past and his present and it is very worth the read. He has lots of excellent videos available, many for free on YouTube. And that Perfect Retrieve DVD is absolutely worth your money and may well put you on a slightly different path too with your dog. Also note that Bob Farris has trained his share of dogs and refuses to train FF himself. He finds it so distasteful if one of his dogs requires FF he pays someone else to do it. No opinion from me rather I am relaying facts from dog men with far more experience than all but a maybe a couple of persons commenting in this thread...

http://www.billhillmann.net/reviewFetchComm.htm

Here is another Pro Trainer going a different route. He has numerous videos on Youtube if you want to see some of his work.

https://www.willowcreekkennels.net/about-us

Another Pro Trainer using PR vs FF. He has some excellent videos showing the progress of dogs being trained on his FB page

https://www.facebook.com/setterdogs/

Another Pro Trainer using PR vs FF.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLOpxicwzZQ
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:28 am

Average guy,

Great post. yesterday after work I stumbled onto some Bill Hillman video. Great stuff. I am commited to starting a retrieving program in January and now I will be reconsidering options. Part of the reason why I originally asked, what the challenges in the process are, was because I read Bob Farris's book. I believe I may be headed down a more "conditioned retrieve" approach. Either way, the pup loves to learn as we work on basic obedience and maners on a daily bases. We do sit, here, place, whoa and heel on a daily basis. He sits at every door we go through and stays on place when people come into the house, when the wife and I eat dinner. It's so simple and I know this sounds goofy...but it seems like he just likes it. It's like he has enthusiasum to be obedient if that makes any sense?? lol I am convinced I have had way to low of expecations of any other dog I ever owned.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby orhunter » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:38 am

I start my conditioned retrieve training no later than 10 weeks of age. Soon as the pup shows a natural desire to chase and pick things up. Dunno how it’ll work on an older dog? Make it fun, make it a game with good rewards for doing it well. But, I should be the last one to give advice.....
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:08 am

orhunter wrote:I start my conditioned retrieve training no later than 10 weeks of age. Soon as the pup shows a natural desire to chase and pick things up. Dunno how it’ll work on an older dog? Make it fun, make it a game with good rewards for doing it well. But, I should be the last one to give advice.....



I agree with you on this. I always encourage and praise the pup when he brings me things, somethings he brings me are more pleasant than others lol. We have done plenty of retrieving of thrown stuff in the yard, house, water tall grass all that. But I treat the retrieve as a reward for steadiness. For example I will command him to sit, down, or whoa, then throw something, or a few things and them release him by saying "OK!" and he gets to go get the object and bring it back.

At times we will walk around and I will drop something and within sight. Give him a command and make him hold the command, then release him from that command to let him go get the object he wants.

So I supposed we already have been working on retrieving I just have not formally introduced the command Fetch. I guess its kinda splitting hairs, and potentially over complicating things on my end. I just want to make sure he fully understands each command word I enter into his brain.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:17 am

FTBs,

That link to Jim Gourley Setterdogs FB page has numerous dogs being trained on the table and on the ground using PR. Sometime last year he posted a succession of videos working with a dog which had low drive to retrieve anything. He used PR and had good success with that dog. This morning when I looked I saw a recent video of a 6 month old GWP on the table. Happy as a clam, doing great.

There is never a downside to being well informed of your options. You and your pup are going to do great which ever way you go.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby orhunter » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:03 pm

I start using "fetch" right from the start. Sure, the pup hasn't a clue the word means a darn thing but in time it will. No different than any other command. Every obedience activity should be associated with a verbal command. The young pup doesn't know retrieving is obedience because they are simply having fun doing it. There will be times down the road when it will become obedience and the dog needs a little incentive to get going, "fetch." Fetch means more than bringing an object back to you. On a blind retrieve it also means, search and/or track. When one word can cover more than one activity with the same results, dead bird in hand, we're a couple of steps ahead in training.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby JONOV » Thu Dec 05, 2019 1:16 pm

AverageGuy wrote:
orhunter wrote:"If your dog doesn't need to be "forced," why are you doing it?" Those words should be etched in stone. That's what I like about a "conditioned retrieve." Avoiding force.


Me too.

The answer as to "why" is in this thread. Following the herd. The loudest, most common advice offered on the subject is why so many amateurs repeat what they are told - they must FF their dogs which already have excellent genetic natural retrieve. This mythical benefit stuff always comes up. I don't buy it at all.


AG, I think it's a situation of people that work with a different toolkit, as well as cost/benefit.

I'll give you a few non-dog examples then I'll get to the dog example. I recently fixed a leaky shower. A hunting partner and wife's inlaw is a plumber. I called him about it. I said, "I think I need to replace the stems, but the old stem isn't coming off, what do you recommend?" He told me "Honestly I rarely replace the stems. It costs $40 for the new stems before I mark the parts up for the time it takes me to go to the supply house and buy them. Then they pay me for my time to come out and fix the shower, I charge $150 an hour. By the time we're there, it makes as much sense to install a new shower rather than save a few bucks for a fix that will hold for a few years rather than a decade."

So who do people talk to about training the retrieve? Often it's a professional. In my case there are two professionals that have been regulars at our NAVHDA. A professional is paid to do a job reliably and efficiently. He doesn't have the same relationship with the dog that you or I do. One of them, in attempt to demonstrate something to the group, told my dog "Gus, HEEL." My dog ran to MY side.

Who do other professionals talk to? They talk to a specialist. Who would be considered a specialist? The guy that runs retrievers in field trials. He similarly probably also needs to force fetch dogs for what he has to accomplish.

So it goes...
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby Duckdon » Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:15 pm

ForTheBirds84 wrote:I have a Pudelpointer that is about 8 months old. I plan on starting Force Fetch training after the first of the year. I have an outline, I plan on following the green book steps and methods. Those of you who have done the FF process what stumbling blocks did you encounter and what advice would you have to give? I realize this process will take weeks to complete.(and will need to be maintained always) I plan to keep sessions to around 20-30 minutes per day about 5 days a week.


Teaching FF or Trained Retrieve classes I find that there are basically 3 frequent problem areas. Usually they over lap so its not just 1 or 2 or 3. ( In my opinion)
1 Lack of foundation Obedience. Poor interconnection between dog and handler.
2 Poor timing on the part of the handler.
3 Lack of or inability to deliver the correct amount of reinforcement.

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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby crackerd » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:41 pm

JONOV wrote:
AverageGuy wrote:
orhunter wrote:"If your dog doesn't need to be "forced," why are you doing it?" Those words should be etched in stone. That's what I like about a "conditioned retrieve." Avoiding force.


Me too.

The answer as to "why" is in this thread. Following the herd. The loudest, most common advice offered on the subject is why so many amateurs repeat what they are told - they must FF their dogs which already have excellent genetic natural retrieve. This mythical benefit stuff always comes up. I don't buy it at all.


AG, I think it's a situation of people that work with a different toolkit, as well as cost/benefit.

I'll give you a few non-dog examples then I'll get to the dog example. I recently fixed a leaky shower. A hunting partner and wife's inlaw is a plumber. I called him about it. I said, "I think I need to replace the stems, but the old stem isn't coming off, what do you recommend?" He told me "Honestly I rarely replace the stems. It costs $40 for the new stems before I mark the parts up for the time it takes me to go to the supply house and buy them. Then they pay me for my time to come out and fix the shower, I charge $150 an hour. By the time we're there, it makes as much sense to install a new shower rather than save a few bucks for a fix that will hold for a few years rather than a decade."

So who do people talk to about training the retrieve? Often it's a professional. In my case there are two professionals that have been regulars at our NAVHDA. A professional is paid to do a job reliably and efficiently. He doesn't have the same relationship with the dog that you or I do. One of them, in attempt to demonstrate something to the group, told my dog "Gus, HEEL." My dog ran to MY side.

Who do other professionals talk to? They talk to a specialist. Who would be considered a specialist? The guy that runs retrievers in field trials. He similarly probably also needs to force fetch dogs for what he has to accomplish.

So it goes...


That would be me, Jonov, if you were talking about an amateur trialer with a professional POV. AG has nice flowery words of dissent agin' it, but "go with the herd" as the rationale for FF? Hah, that's a larf and a half on my end - used it to train all my gundogs to handle - six breeds in the last 25 years - to handle in the water, which is where "the benefits" of FF apply to me and anybody else who either runs retriever competitions or needs their dogs to pick up birds on something besides good old terra firma.

A friend sent this photo of a British retriever FT

B-Generale-096.jpg
B-Generale-096.jpg (481.84 KiB) Viewed 534 times


and if you can find a drop of H20 within five square miles of the estate and the line where the trial's held, you must be a dowser (but not a plumber :wink: ) by trade or heritage.

If I lived (and/or played) in the UK I probably would bypass force fetch altogether (though apparently a good number of Brit trainers - pros - do it "on the sly" for reasons that I don't question - and wouldn't get an answer if I did. The funny thing - I've said this before here and elsewhere - is that while Hillman's methods are sound as FF Lite ("conditioned retrieve" :!: ) once push comes to shove in the bigger arena - retriever field trials - the trainers (amateurs) who've deployed it have to step back - waaaaaay back - and go with what works for them (and their dogs).

Your parable above only gilds GH's recommendations, as a former pro trainer himself - on how to impart - and accomplish - FF to suit a versatile breed. For hunting. NAVHDA, I couldn't say, because I went the full Monty with FF on it, and boy did it kick in when, after the dog got through its UT test(s), the big-water retriever training started and I found myself with one sweet-handling animal for the far longer duration of her life.

The "herd?" - AG, you need to get out more - not just go hunting. Duckdon's summation pretty much hits it on the nail as far as the failures at FF - it ain't on "the herd," it's on you, the handler for failing to do your due diligence as Jonov noted.

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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby Willie T » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:53 pm

My current dog like any well bred versatile should, has a very strong natural retrieve. I wish I could post video. I saved a video working with him in my backyard at 3 1/2 months old. Fairly unrefined but a very functional retrieve and well on the way to steady to wing shot and fall for a puppy. It would be a good example of starting preparations for force fetch. Obedience is in place, he knows fetch, hold, leave, and has a rock solid recall. A very nice conditioned retrieve. FF after his first season was a breeze because of the rapport we had already established. Depending on what the plans an owner has for for a particular dog, what cricket was doing at 3.5 months might be deemed adequate by some who are content with a dog that can retrieve simple marks and hunt dead. For others he was just sticking his toe in the water.
Some on here have seen pictures I posted of him retrieving geese before he was four months old. I force fetched him after hunting him one season. (which we started before 4 months) It was not for a lack of retrieving desire or fixing any problems. It was to put in place the foundation to build on for advanced handling. We hunted that first season without developing bad habits. I hunt geese a lot. With wary snow geese a lot of birds are shot at 60 yards. That range lends to some sailers and cripples. Decoying snow geese in a boggy and sticky rice field, multiple 300-400 yard or further blinds in a single day are common place. Dogs that handle well and take good lines rule in that arena. When I hunt waterfowl with retriever guys I put down a dog that can hold its own. I don’t cast stones at the way another handler trains or runs their dog but I do firmly believe the utility of training your dog to best fit how, what, and where you hunt can not be overstated, including but not limited to whether or not to force fetch.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:22 pm

MG,

My dog has been working water since he as a baby. He was not yet 8 months old when I sailed this Sharptail over the horizon in ND. It fell dead out of the air about 300 yards over the horizon. I marched to my mark on the farthest hump and discovered a large prairie pothole lake below me. Saw a small dot floating about 75 yards from the bank far below me. Walked down to the Lake edge tossed a rock into the water and told that pup to "Fetch". A cold blind retrieve in water. He jumped in and took off swimming in a perfect straight line. Eventually he spotted the grouse floating, swam right to it, grabbed it and turned for shore. Couple of days later he retrieved a two man limit through a decoy spread and rolling whitecaps in 40 MPH winds. I have video and photos of that too if you'd like to see it.

Image

He has been trained to do basic handling on both land and water since. You have seen it in video and commented on it actually. We spent the summer training with a Retriever group and ran a couple of NAHRA tests at the end of the summer. One pass, one not.

We make the rounds a plenty and do ok, but we are no wheres near the best example of what I posted. Nope, Check out more Bill Hillman videos for evidence of what a dog can do in the way of handling in water or land, using PR training methods vs traditional FF. They both work. I know that first hand as I put my prior GWPs through an ear pinch FF program. What I am addressing is the mis-information that nothing other than traditional FF works or it is always best for all trainers and all dogs, or that result always suffer otherwise.

The list of Pros using different methods successfully is growing so no need to pay any heed to my views when there are lots of people with more credentials that I will ever have saying and doing the same thing. I have identified 5 of them in this thread.

The advice I give is geared towards the audience receiving it which sure ain't a pro trainer with eyes on finishing out a NFC Retriever, so I don't get alot of mileage out of those references in this context. FTB will figure out his own path and has to a large degree already.

A buddy of mine is a Waterfowl Guide. I have hunted with both of his Black Labs quite a bit. Both of them are extremely likely to recover any bird a guy knocks down on land or water as many times a day as the law allows the hunting party to do it. His current dog works in swift running iced up river current day after day, as the one before him did. Total bags exceeding 30 birds a day is common including 6 giant honkers a day per man. Neither dog has been put through a FF program. Didn't need it.

Here is my dog doing the same work in river current swift enough to keep the hole open with icebergs all around.

Image

His total volume of work on the river that day.

Image

There are lots of photos from this season in my Hunting section thread but none of them evidence the dog's willingness to do the work under the extreme conditions these photos provide as those conditions have not yet occurred on hunts this year.

Really not seeing the downside of what my dog and I have accomplished and am confident others can do the same using the same approach if they choose to do so.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:05 am

FTBs,

The GSP on this cover is bred, owned and trained by a very small scale breeder and amateur trainer. The dog earned a UT1 204 before he was 1 year old, earned his Versatile Champion title before he was 2 and made the cover of NAVHDA magazine while doing it. The dog is a stylish, high drive dog and has also achieved FC, AFC, CD and MH titles, also before he was 2 years old.

Image

Same Amateur trainer, bred, owns and trained the dog's sire with that dog holding VC, FC, AFC, UD, CGC, MHA, Senior Hunter Retriever, RDX and VCX titles, also at a very young age.

She also trained the littermate sister to the dog on the magazine cover, to UT1 204, and VC titles at a young age.

Also bred, owns and trained the dog's Dam with CH, SH, RDX, VC and ROM titles.

Same for the Grand Dam with CH, SH, RDX, VC, ROM and DC titles.

Has two impressive young females she is bringing along currently which are both way ahead of the curve.

The woman did not train using traditional FF methods on any of these dogs and used no ecollar on at least the latest 3 finished dogs, including the dog on the cover. I am not sure as to whether she used any ecollar in the training the older dogs or not. I know she does not rule it out but says she mostly has had no need for it. She uses treats and praise in her videos while training the more recent dogs.

She posts alot of photos and videos of her dogs hunting successfully. Waterfowl duties include heavy cover swamps, beaver ponds and dead of winter work on Lake Erie. Has posted some impressive blind retrieve handling work.

Sure makes me sit up and take notice when I run across people having this degree of consistent success training their dogs using methods different than I have used in the past. I strive to learn more, have and plan to continue doing so. I am always free to use whatever mix seems to work best for the dog and subject we are working on and do.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby Willie T » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:30 am

AG, can you PM me the kennel name those GSP’s hail from? That interests me.
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Re: Force Fetch, Conditioned Retrieve, ect...

Postby Dmog » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:09 am

Lots of good discussion and advice here. I have very limited experience having only personally owned and trained two dogs but my experience is that I believe it is a good idea to incorporate the e-collar with retrieves so you have a resource out in the hunting field if your dog ever does fail at any stage of the retrieve. If you dont do it up front then you maybe having to go back later and add it which will not be as efficient and easy as the first time. I have a Griff with a high drive for retrieve at a young age that I would have never believed would stop retrieving and one day at about 3 years old, middle of hunting season, he decided to just stand over a dead quail on land. To this day, I do not know what happened or what I did wrong but I do know if I had added the e-collar then I could have corrected it a lot sooner. I made the mistake of saying, I will work on that after hunting season and it manifested itself that season to where a once dependable dead bird finder became one that I had to send in multiple times and really watch his body language to find the dead bird. He would pause over it and I know dam well he knew it was there and dead. On wounded birds, he would chase it down and grab it until he was satisfied it was dead then drop it. That was a weird year as he will swim all day long and bring a bird out of swimming depth water to me but if it is shallow water or on land, he just stands over it. I went back that summer and incorporated e collar to his retrieve but he is not the same dog he was before the "blinking" incident. My next dog I had a retriever pro FF her and in process learned a great deal that I would have done different with my first dog. It is funny that now with the younger dog on land retrieves, 9 times out of 10 she beats him to the retrieve but he occasionally gets there first and picks up the bird and brings it right back to my hand without any correction. On water he is the stronger swimmer so he typically gets the bird before she does and brings it to shore but I have to be ready with a hold command and/or e-correction to keep him from dropping it at the water's edge.
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