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Old 02-23-2013, 07:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dumbell retrieve. . . any suggestions?

My 22 month old gal is dropping the dumbbell about 3 to 5 feet away from me when we practice the retrieve. She's a low drive dog but enjoys working obedience and retrieving the dumbbell. Just getting her to pick it up and return to me with it was a challenge for awhile, but she finally caught on to that after some friendly competition for it with my other dogs. I praise immediately when she picks the dumbbell up and now I wonder if started praising at the wrong point . . .too soon. Also does a 'take' and 'hold' command separately while she's sitting in front of me. . "take" is fine but she doesn't want to "hold" at all .. . All my other shepherds over the years have loved to retrieve and if anything, refused to let go of the dumbbell on returning to me with with it. I don't want to do anything to undo her desire to run and pick it up, but I don't know what to do to encourage her to keep it in her mouth at least to the point she returns withing touching distance of me. . .any suggestions or recommendations of reading material on the retrieve??
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Run away from her. Push her away from you, or have her tug with it when she brings it back.
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You could work on the hold separately with a clicker
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Running away as she's coming towards me with the dumbbell, yes, have tried. Sometimes she successfully runs past me still carrying dumbbell.... at least she still has it so I see that as progress. She never gets close enough to push away or play tug and if I approach her she drops it. . .


Clicker training and the 'hold'. . . I don't use a clicker but do use 'verbal marker' training instead of a clicker. That's where I'm wondering if I started using it at the wrong time(as she was picking it up). . . the 'take' is good but doesn't want to "hold" as I mentioned. And then trying to figure out just 'the' right time to reward (verbal marker and treat) for holding for a second or two seems to be in conflict of what I'm asking her to do being as she's anxious to get it out of her mouth..does she relate the marker/treat to spitting the dumbbell out of her mouth rather than holding?
.. She has a ways to go before she'll be doing her CDX and need for dumbbell retrieve, but I just don't know what are good methods for encouraging her to bring the dumbbell all the way in and don't want to unknowingly be discouraging her. She is very low drive. . . but even my other low drive dogs loved to do dumbbell retrieves. But her low drive is a challenge to work with at times and much more difficult than a higher drive dog. ..but shes' very intelligent and learns quickly on other exercises. . . . Thank you for the suggestions so far. . .
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What I did with Elena was work the hold totally separately in a different room. I did not have her in front of me either (slightly off side). I would put my left hand up through her collar and under her lower jaw just as some support. Ask her to take the DB, mark, "OUT" reward. Over time I lengthened how long she had to hold it before I marked it, "out" reward. I threw the "hold" word in there at some point. If she spit the DB out before I said out I would tell her "no", "bring", "hold", "yes", "out" reward. Then I would touch the DB, take my hand away, touch, hand away, yes/out/reward. Then eventually I slowly removed my left hand. Then I moved her into the front position.

Once she was holding right in front, I had her bring/hold and walked a few feet, grab her treat off of the counter, walked back into the front position, yes/out/reward. I got farther and farther from her. If she dropped the DB or mouthed it I told her no, had her bring/hold, walked back to the food pile, then back to her, etc.

Then I have added in other things. If she knows how to do a front for the recall you can ask her to do scoot fronts with the DB. Bring/hold, a few scoot fronts, yes/out reward. Then have her sit farther away and ask for fronts, then even farther.

I did other things too for the whole retrieve, but this is how I did the hold and front.

You might find the clicker works better and it might be worth trying.

IMO she needs to learn to hold the DB or the rest of the retrieve will be moot. She also needs to become comfortable in front of you while holding the DB.
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As Lisa mentions, i like to work the hold totally separate from the retrieve. So the hold while moving around is there before ever throwing the dumbbell. I have had good luck with that technique and I can use a non-reward marker if Minka drops it or picks it up incorrectly, then tell her bring/hold to get her to pick it up. In the beginning I didn't out her with the dumbbell in her mouth and my hands on the dumbbell, instead I encouraged a good hold, focus, mark it and reward with a high value high energy reward (throwing a ball for Minka). Then I increased the duration of holding in front of me and still didn't out it, just mark, let her drop it and reward. That way she didn't anticipate my hands on the dumbbell meaning she should let go, plus I could really get a fast energetic sequence of a firm hold, done! mark and reward. Building the drive for the exercise.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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thank you both. . . very helpful additional info on techniques for teaching "hold". . . and yes, you're absolutely right! The best retrieve in the world won't help if she drops it before she gets to me! THank you !
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Dumbell retrieve. . . any suggestions?

Fiona refused to take her dumbbell, so the trainer had the sleeve guys tease her with it. She would take it, but not hold it. So I would tease her at home and she would hold it. Now she needs to work on bringing it to me.


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Old 02-25-2013, 11:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I had trouble with this too, Mi loved to play fetch with everything but the dumbbell. Here is what I did. Taught the take, like you did. Then the hold she would spit out. So...take, then I said hold, kept my hand there so she couldn't drop, then a yesssss and treat. Then longer holds. So, that was all good, then the retrieve, she would nose it, then nothing. I thought, okay no CDC for her. Then I started over and worked again on take, hold and yes, treat. Then set it on the floor. Take, hold, give. Yessssss, treat. Then a little farther, yessss, fewer treats. Farther and farther. Iused different objects also to teach the hold. She loves to retrieve and return to front. She will sometimes jump at the db and mouth but is getting better. She does great flat and jump retrieve in training but she went around at the fun match so more fun matches for us.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A formal retrieve has a lot of components/parts. Sit calmly next to you, race out, snatch up DB off of the ground correctly, hold it firmly/calmly in the right position in the mouth, spin around and race back, sit in front, hold it firmly/calmly in the right position in the mouth, out when asked and not before, sit calmly in front, finish. When shaping you need to teach each of these parts in small steps. Some dogs will move quickly to the next step, but others need these steps to gain a full understanding about what we want.

You get them to reach forward and put their mouth on the DB. Then hold it calmly/firmly in the right location in the mouth. Then out. Then grab it and lift it up, then grab it from right by the ground with you still holding, then picking it up off of the ground, etc. With some dogs you can't rush things.
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