Force Fetch Duration

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Force Fetch Duration

Postby IDHunter » Tue Jun 21, 2022 12:33 pm

Haven't posted in a few months since getting some advice about putting my dog through a FF program. I've had my dog at a professional trainer (recommended by his breeder) for 3 months now. To say we are getting impatient and missing him (he's a family dog too) is an understatement. I know it's not normal for FF to take this long, but my question is would you give it more time or would you pull him back? We have missed out on all spring training as it relates to birds, and I'm starting to worry about the re-acclimation period after being gone for so long. My gut tells me to take him back regardless of the progress at this point, but curious to get some opinions.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Tue Jun 21, 2022 5:56 pm

Three months seems like an awfully long time, but every dog is different. What kind of feedback have you received from the trainer? Have there been significant setbacks requiring multiple steps backwards in the process? How old is the dog?

Wouldn't worry too much about the reaclimation when the dog gets back, unless the dog was sent off at a very young age.

Depending on the dog's age and the amount of bird work done before sending off for FF, there may not be too much loss.

If you don't get a good feeling from the trainer, it may not be a bad idea to bring the dog home and do it yourself.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jun 21, 2022 6:56 pm

Yea, 3 months is way too long. I'd go see first hand what is going on and in all likelihood bring the dog home.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby IDHunter » Tue Jun 21, 2022 8:41 pm

SwitchGrassWPG wrote:Three months seems like an awfully long time, but every dog is different. What kind of feedback have you received from the trainer? Have there been significant setbacks requiring multiple steps backwards in the process? How old is the dog?

Wouldn't worry too much about the reaclimation when the dog gets back, unless the dog was sent off at a very young age.

Depending on the dog's age and the amount of bird work done before sending off for FF, there may not be too much loss.

If you don't get a good feeling from the trainer, it may not be a bad idea to bring the dog home and do it yourself.



The dog is 2 years and 4 months old. The main feedback has been a series of setbacks, most notably that he hasn't been able to improve much on his hard mouth, which was a problem before taking him to FF. He's also been trying a very low force approach, so I knew it would take longer than a traditional force method, but like I said I'm starting to get that gut feeling that we to the point of diminishing returns with any further time invested in this. I'm not overly worried about the lack of bird work this spring, as he has had plenty of exposure in his first two years. I was hoping to focus a bit on steadiness this spring, but FF was a higher priority for a variety of reasons.

Leaning heavily toward picking him up at the end of the month regardless of being finished or not. Just wanted to sanity check that it wasn't some giant mistake to pull him off a training program if he isn't finished. At this point he may never get through it to the point that I was hoping, and I can live with that.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Wed Jun 22, 2022 5:56 am

I've seen a number of dogs where FF didn't fix hard mouth problems. Also seen where it depends on the bird being retrieved. The smaller the bird, the more aggressive they are and larger birds aren't a problem.

It seems there's a fine line with using something on the bird that creates a discomfort when biting down too hard and turning off the retrieving desire; this line is different for all dogs. Some hard mouth problems are never fixed...
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:25 am

Man, there's really a lot in your post. First, a typical dog, in fact most dog's, will go through a total obedience and Force Course in six weeks. I force broke hundreds and that's what they averaged. Second, you say "low pressure". There is NO such thing as a low pressure Force Course. If it's low pressure, it's a simple course in "HOLD", not Force. And that's fine. It's all MOST hunting dog's need. If you compete, that's a different program. In a course on hold, especially with German dog's which can be incredibly difficult, you can easily fight a dog for six months, maybe more, until they finally do it. It's not that they don't understand what you want, it's just that they're German and CAN be the most difficult of all dog's to train. Thirdly, the HARD MOUTH problem. That's a tough one and you have to realize that if the dog is TRULY hard mouthed, it is most likely NOT curable. To me, hard mouth, is when a dog crushes the bird coming in or stops and eats it. That's a Hard Mouth dog. If he simply kills the bird on the way in, and there's no real meat damage, I count that as a plus. Who wants to kill their own bird anyhow? IDHunter said some dog's can never be broken of hard mouth. That is absolutely correct. There is NO trainer, if he's honest, will guarantee he can cure hard mouth. If you look at the dog at the trainers, and he is progressing, I'd probably leave it. Realize though, that without Force Conditioning a dog, it can be a LONG and frustrating process. At 28 months, yours is gettin' up there.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby IDHunter » Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:55 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Man, there's really a lot in your post. First, a typical dog, in fact most dog's, will go through a total obedience and Force Course in six weeks. I force broke hundreds and that's what they averaged. Second, you say "low pressure". There is NO such thing as a low pressure Force Course. If it's low pressure, it's a simple course in "HOLD", not Force. And that's fine. It's all MOST hunting dog's need. If you compete, that's a different program. In a course on hold, especially with German dog's which can be incredibly difficult, you can easily fight a dog for six months, maybe more, until they finally do it. It's not that they don't understand what you want, it's just that they're German and CAN be the most difficult of all dog's to train. Thirdly, the HARD MOUTH problem. That's a tough one and you have to realize that if the dog is TRULY hard mouthed, it is most likely NOT curable. To me, hard mouth, is when a dog crushes the bird coming in or stops and eats it. That's a Hard Mouth dog. If he simply kills the bird on the way in, and there's no real meat damage, I count that as a plus. Who wants to kill their own bird anyhow? IDHunter said some dog's can never be broken of hard mouth. That is absolutely correct. There is NO trainer, if he's honest, will guarantee he can cure hard mouth. If you look at the dog at the trainers, and he is progressing, I'd probably leave it. Realize though, that without Force Conditioning a dog, it can be a LONG and frustrating process. At 28 months, yours is gettin' up there.


Lots of good points. I didn't ask for the low pressure approach, that's just what the trainer recommended. That being said, I will not give it 6 months (I'm giving it another two weeks tops before he comes home). He's not a competition/test quality dog, he'll just be a hunting dog and family pet at this point.
Regarding hard mouth, he has never eaten one of the birds, nor have I really seen him try to. He does grab them very firmly and sometimes causes some meat damage, especially on smaller birds. Was hoping to see improvement on this with this trainer, but after three months this seems to be the biggest hurdle that the trainer has yet to clear, so you're right it may simply never improve. It's not ideal, but I can live with it if it's not able to be corrected. Thanks for the input!
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:06 am

Also, IDhunter, if that's all he's doing with the birds, that MAY well improve as he handles more birds. It is only usually a problem with birds like Dove or Woodcock. Many, many, times it's just that the dog hasn't handled many birds and they excite him. The problem you describe if accurate, does NOT justify leaving him at the trainer if he is doing everything else you want. His handling of birds now may also be a pressure reaction to the trainer and MAY stop when you get him home. Or not. What I would NOT do, is let the kids play games like tug of war with the dog. It is usually not a problem, the dog may not give them the toy but release it willingly to you. I also caution people who own dog's with mouth problems against it. Good Luck!
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby orhunter » Wed Jun 22, 2022 1:05 pm

I wish this website had a "like" button when someone posts really good stuff. Gonehuntin' is right on the money.... as are other responses.

One approach you might consider is the "come" command. It's appropriate to use with a dog that's reluctant to return immediately with the bird or training object. Don't want the dog to have an opportunity to stop and think about anything else, do I want to fetch or eat? Treats...

Don't shoot any small birds like quail, till this is fixed. They will only reinforce what the dog wants to do, not what it should. I'm dealing with the same problem now and have in the past.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jun 22, 2022 2:25 pm

"One approach you might consider is the "come" command." This statement from Orhunter is spot on. There are SO many problems that a dog can develop from a weak HERE command. Bird dropping, bird munching, bird eating, wandering away, stopping heeling; the list is endless. As weird as it sounds, the HERE command will fix many bird handling problems and is the FIRST command I teach any pup, right along with NO at the same time. If a dog knows NO, and comes reliably and promptly when called, that dog can probably be hunted. Might be off a CC, but it is huntable.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby Densa44 » Tue Jun 28, 2022 11:39 am

If you hurry force fetch you can create lots of problems like hard mouth. If the dog is not going in competitions I'd bring him home. I never FF my second lab. she didn't need it, and she ran in field trials every weekend. My PP only took a couple of weeks so I'm with the " bring him home guys"
Good luck.
Oh BTW a duck hunting season here in Alberta will sure fire up the retrieving drive and you may find that FF is not necessary.
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Re: Force Fetch Duration

Postby IDHunter » Tue Jun 28, 2022 5:10 pm

Densa44 wrote:If you hurry force fetch you can create lots of problems like hard mouth. If the dog is not going in competitions I'd bring him home. I never FF my second lab. she didn't need it, and she ran in field trials every weekend. My PP only took a couple of weeks so I'm with the " bring him home guys"
Good luck.
Oh BTW a duck hunting season here in Alberta will sure fire up the retrieving drive and you may find that FF is not necessary.


This wasn't a retrieving drive issue. He's got plenty of that. This was more of a "delivering nicely to hand, hoping to improve hard mouth, and hoping to correct some guarding/possessive behavior" reasons for FF. Either way, I'm picking him up this week.
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