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Old 22-07-2008, 11:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Non Retrieve

Help, advice wanted please. I have a 7 month Lab who has just started stage 1 gun dog training and is doing well. I have hit a snag and am unsure how to deal with it. On a retrieve with his 1lb dummy he sends off eagerly, picks up, turns round to face me and refuses to recall. How should I handle this? I have tried great encouragement, leaping about, arm waving, turning my back and walking away, nothing works. All I can do it ask for a sit and stay, which he will do, walk up to him and take the dummy, praise him for giving it and try again. I keep the sessions short, 2 attempts as a reward after a bit if heel work, recalls etc. What am I doing wrong. It seems as if he wants me to chase him which I won't do, I have made a corridor for the exercise so he can't bolt out but am keen to get this right so any help appreciated, thanks.
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Old 23-07-2008, 01:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not an expert... so hopefully someone with more experience will come give some more advice... but I would take a step back and find something that he will bring you back... like a tennis ball say. Either that... or try making the retrieve shorter maybe?
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Old 23-07-2008, 01:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Will be watching this thread with interest as he sounds like my lady, Honey!! Wish I could offer more help. I've been working on basic recall as the focus and spending less time on the retrieving for now until her recall is much steadier.
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Old 23-07-2008, 11:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am sure someone will come on this evening with a long answer. I'm not that keen on trying to put all the answers on here without actually seeing the dog.

You need to break the exercise down into parts and whatever you do don't chase!!! Are you not going to classes with your Gundog Club course?
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Old 23-07-2008, 11:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would bring everything back small....start with getting him to pick up the dummy from just in front of you and put it in your hand....then when thats solid...gradually move the distance out. I use a clicker for this training and it can happen very quickly
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Old 23-07-2008, 12:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think you could really do with someone having a look at whats going on in person. - It sounds like you have been trying the right things.

However my inclination is to advise you to put some further work into his recalls. Essentially your problem at the moment is that he wont recall to you with the distraction of having something in his mouth.

To try and avoid him getting this into a habit, I would focus far more on his recalls with other distractions. Work on calling him away from other dogs, interesting smells, carrion, food, animals - anything he may be distracted by.

An exercise you can try with the retrieve is to have him sitting in front of you. Place the dummy half way between you and the dog. Call him in encouraging him to pick up the dummy on the way to you.

You could try this on a long line to gently encourage him to come towards you.

If you can get him into you, dont be in a rush to take it from him if he is inclined to hold onto the dummy. Get down and fuss him while he is holding the dummy - let him forget that he has brought the dummy in before you take it from him, so you break the direct connection between him coming to you and having to give up his prize.

When the penny drops that the only way he gets fuss and another retrieve is by bringing it to you, the problem should greatly reduce.

Another possible strategy is to have a second ball or dummy in your hand which may encourage him to come in - although great caution here as it could encourage him to drop the orginal dummy.

A further strategy is to toughen up you approach to the recall, giving him a really firm, no nonsense order to come. Once again this has some risk with it and is very much dependent on the temperament of your dog and whats causing him to mess about.

General advise on gundog training is to greatly restrict the number of early retrieves and focus on obedience and steadiness. This is sound advice, but with some dogs there is always the risk that the owner is so worried about steadiness that the owner never allows the dog to develop a love of the whole retrieving process, which can cause its own problems.

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Old 23-07-2008, 01:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Playing ‘keep away’ is a really common problem especially in young dogs just becoming more independent.

Assuming that you have a rock solid recall in the dog when he is not carrying the dummy, the problem is caused either because he wants to engage you in a game or because he is possessive of the dummy and wants to keep it for himself.

A dog which just wants you to play will come around and start delivering the dummy if you take him to a wide open space and use the ‘walk away’ technique*

A dog which wants to possess the dummy for himself is a different challenge and the quickest way to over come this is with rewards, provided you use the correct technique

Like many training problems you usually have two basic options - reward correct behaviour, or punish incorrect behaviour (or a combination of both). Both have their difficulties where retrieving is concerned

If you punish a dog (scold him, or reel him in on a training lead for example) there is a risk he will drop the dummy en route. Traditionalists will tell you that if you reward him for giving you the dummy, then he will also spit out the dummy to get the reward. Which makes it seem as though you can’t win!

However, this is true only if you do not use the correct procedure for training retrieves using rewards (food or toy) and very few gundog trainers currently use these methods. If you follow the correct reward based procedure*, you can train a neat reward based retrieve /delivery which completely cures the ‘keep away’ problem for good. It will however take several weeks and is not a quick fix.

There are lots of variations on a theme where retrieving is concerned, and most experienced trainers have their own ‘favourite method’ for curing ‘keep away’ Are you currently having lessons?

*If you like I can pm you links to descriptions of the various methods available, but there is nothing quite like first hand advice by someone with experience and access to your dog.

Pippa
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Old 23-07-2008, 02:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok, as Jill already pointed out, this can be a tricky one to advice on when you haven't seen the dog but here's a few suggestions that sprung to my mind:

First of all he's 7 months old - I tend to leave any retrieving to last and do all the basic like recall, lead work, stop whistle first. I've got a couple of 12 months old labs here and I've only just started with the retrieving work however, they did have the odd tennis ball when they were 4-5 months old.

So it might just be worth to take a step back and work on some more of the basic stuff, as also suggested by Matt, and this will also help in building up the confidence: you getting confidence in your dog and your dog getting confidence in you as his trusted working partner.

Also work/train in a small area - you've already done a great job by building a corridor but for now find an area even smaller like your kitchen (assuming you don't have a huge kitchen :lol: ). Sit the dog up and throw a tennis ball - don't let him run in but get the ball yourself. Always get 9 out of the 10 retrieves yourself. Although this may not seem to deal directly with your current problem believe me it all has a knock on effect.

And last but not least loosen up a bit and stop worrying about it for the moment: remember he's still only 7 months and most often the best way to solve a problem like this is not to deal with it directly but by work on another thing like the recall and then without the dog realising it you have 'sneaked' the retrieving issue in through the back door and solved that one as well.

If you feel you're getting stuck try and find some training in your area or maybe someone to train with..

Natasha
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Old 23-07-2008, 03:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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its nice warm weather, lie down, throw the retrieve and ignore the dog. he'll most likely come in once your on the same level. play with dog, do not attempt to take the dummy.
see how that goes.
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Old 23-07-2008, 11:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Great Advice, Thanks

Wow, thanks to you all for that really helpful advice. Yes I have stopped doing any retrieves and am back to working on a better recall as this can be a bit 'iffy' unless I have food on me as often without food he will just sit and stare and refuse to budge, he does seem a little obstinate at times! I do go to gundog training classes but due to holidays we are on 2 weeks break so it seemed a good opportunity to get some practice in. I will try the methods suggested but noticed today that when I was playing with him and a ball, if I lay down on the grass he came straight back and instead of trying to grab it away from him, I just made a huge fuss of him and let him keep it whereupon he dropped it in front of me so I think it is my fault he won't return as I am doing too much grabbing. I do realise he is only young and we have a long way to go and maybe I should just try to enjoy him more and be less concerned about getting everything right all the time. On the whole he is very good for his age but he is a big lad and powerful so I am possibly over eager to get him trained as I worry about him being out of control. All the advice is much appreciated, thanks everyone.
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