Retrieve Training - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Retrieve Training

(1) Speed on the return portion of the DB retrieve. What are some of the exercises, drills you have used or are using right now to teach the dog to come flying back to you with the dumbbell? Not necessarily talking about polishing up the retrieve for trial here ... more just teaching/imprinting the dog to come back to you fast and hard with the dumbbell.

(2) Thoughts on how to use the dumbbell in training. Do you present the dumbbell as a "toy", make drive for it, and use it in play so the DB becomes a valuable object in and of itself to the dog? Or do you allow no play with the dumbbell and simply treat it as a mean to an end (trade - bring me the dumbbell and I'll give you the ball/tug/food)?

Just curious to see what everyone is doing.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 08:18 AM
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Jason I wrote up for a friend how I trained Nikon's retrieve (completely backchained, no chewing, extremely consistent and clean) and I'll send it to you. Quick answers: 1) I varied what I was rewarding at that stage in the game, sometimes I release immediately when the dog returned FAST, other times I let the dog hold it for 5+ seconds before release and reward. Even now that the behavior is complete and has been consistent, I still reward MORE often for a fast return than having the dog hold (because I know he can hold it indefinitely with no chewing or distraction). 2) I tried this once or twice but the results were not significant and I felt it risks more hectic behavior and chewing so for Nikon the dumbbell is just a means to get to a ball and because I spent so much time backchaining every little progression, he understands what is required without needing compulsion or drive specifically for the dumbbell. I was lucky in that Nikon has always been an natural retriever so he was willing to learn.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 03:33 PM
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To get the fast retrieve, I throw the dumbbell up against a fence (this prevents them from being able to run past of play with the dumbbell) as she is picking it up I start running backwards calling her. This has worked for me and she brings it back like a rocket and usually hits me in the chest just like bringing the tug back.
She doesn't play with the dumbbell. It's a means to an end so to speak. She gets food for holding & retrieving.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 08:12 PM
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This is a good topic Jason! And actually something I've been working on/thinking about a lot lately.

1. Speed. There's a couple of things I've seen people do.

First, how's the speed on the recall? I know some people do not feel like the recall impacts retrieve speed, but my experience has been different. If my dog understand Hier as front sit as fast as your butt can get you here...and I call Hier on the retrieve they should pick up speed. I have worked on return speed with toys as well before I ever incorporate the dumbbell. My dog's return just as fast in casual fetch as they do in the formal retrieve. I have seen long lines and prong collars used as well as electric to reinforce the "get your butt here fast" concept for possessive dogs who do not want to return with their toys.

Those folks who use a trade based retrieve usually have to increase the value of their motivator. I've seen people use helpers and sleeves to speed up the return when a ball or food isn't enough. Either that or compulsion starts to come into the picture.

The biggest thing that has helped me is getting my dogs to run back to play with me again. This is an OB video from training the other day with Cade. He's really starting to get the concept of returning to play. He's not as direct as I'd like him to be on the turn around, but you can see he picks up speed to come back and slam me.


2. There are functionally 2 different types of motivational retrieves. The prey based retrieve and the trade based retrieve. I sort of fall somewhere in between depending on the particular dog. But I think using the dumbbell as a reward in and of itself can be very useful in training the retrieve and in the routine. Consider the OB routine. The dog has to do it all on the hope of reward...What if in the middle of the routine the dog gets to play a game? A game with rules, but a game none the less. A dog that likes to retrieve for retrieving's sake and is rewarded by that gets a pick me up in the routine. The successfulness of doing this though is dependent on the HOLD and on your dog's general return behavior.

I don't personally like a totally trade based retrieve. This is a technique that is used a lot by AKC people in my area and it seems to be Flat in much the same way that a lot of obedience goes flat. It hinges on the handler's ability. I think it takes longer, takes better timing, etc because it is a complex behavior. I also think there is almost always a "You HAVE to go out and get that dumbbell and bring it back" compulsion portion that has been more severe than the prey based retrieves I have seen. The most common problems I've seen with it have been lack of enthusiasm and commitment- arguably training problems because of the timing of the rewards etc. and the speed of the retrieve.

Argos was originally done with a prey based retrieve. I went a little overboard and focused too early on going out and coming back and not enough on the Hold. The enthusiasm and the speed were excellent, but the Hold was miserable. He got to the point where he couldn't think he was overloaded- My mistake. He would actually spit out his ball to go get the dumbbell. Most people who do the prey based retrieve have difficulty with the hold and the control. I had to go back and take drive out of the exercise until I could get it to a manageable level. I did this by reconditioning his Hold on a PVC pipe with a modified force method taken from retriever folks and then going back and using a trade based method for the retrieve. Now he's world's better but he seems to have retained some of his love for the dumbbell exercise more so than some other dogs I've seen who were only trade based.

We learned from the mistakes we made with Argos and improved with Anka. She learned the hold first as a marked behavior on her Ball. So she learned to Hold a prey object and she already knew how to bring it back because we worked with her on return of the toy like we are doing now with Cade. She learned to do the retrieve completely on her Ball before we ever introduced the dumbbell. Then it was merely a matter of transferring value to the dumbbell. It was actually funny because for a couple weeks all her obedience was done with the dumbbell as a reward. We vet wrapped it to protect her teeth and used it in the same way we had used her ball. This is a video of Anka doing the retrieves with her ball, at the end you can see how it was marked and rewarded with tugging. She's still polishing and has a couple of regrips on the return, but I love her speed and enthusiasm.


We've started Cade in much the same way as Anka. I'll probably begin training his retrieve in earnest this Winter. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Bianka vom Eisernen Loewen IPO3, CGC, TC 1-3-08
Cade vom Eisernen Loewen IPO1, CGC 3-25-09
D'Artagnan (Tag) vom Eisernen Loewen BH 2-2-10
G Aiko von Burkndeiros SchH 3, IPO3, FH, TC, KKL2 9-17-02 (Retired)


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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That's a really good post! Thanks!! Lots of info for me to digest and think over.

With prey based retrieve, do you teach it by backchaining or do you work on getting the big picture first (going out and coming back) and then add the front and hold afterwards?

With Ike I was thinking of doing a trade based retrieve because he is extremely possessive and also because I didn't do as good of a job imprinting the "return" as you did with Cade (not even close lol). If anything, he is the opposite of Cade and would make a run for the next county whenever he gets his ball ... that is, UNLESS he knows I have another ball with me. So his return/recall right now is very "two ball" dependent ... if you know what I mean.

Btw, Cade and Anka look fantastic. I love Cade's heeling!

Last edited by Jason L; 08-08-2010 at 10:02 PM.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason L View Post
With prey based retrieve, do you teach it by backchaining or do you work on getting the big picture first (going out and coming back) and then add the front and hold afterwards?
Sort of? It's built in lots of different parts that you build at the same time. You build the go out and come back with the toy from the time they are very small...so it's more of built in habit to start with. You teach the hold as a separate exercise. So in that sense it's not truly back chained because you teach all the parts separately but concurrently. You can work on the go out and come back, you can work on the sit while throwing, you can work on the hold all in the same week or at all different times and you don't put them together until you have all the parts already done.

I think in a true shaped retrieve you actually teach each piece in smaller increments but as part of a single behavior. Touch the dowel, take the dowel from my hand in front, take the dowel from the ground and bring it to front, go out from next to me and get the dowel and bring it to me, Go out further and get the dowel and bring it to me, wait while I throw the dowel go out get it and bring it to me....Does that sound right?

But when you start putting it together, I would say it's back-chained. You start with that front sit hold (The sit is in place because the way we taught it the instinct is to return and slam you). Then you add in Hier. So maybe when she has her ball when you've freed her, you can call Hier, Sit, Hold. We use all these commands until the behavior starts to naturally fall together and become automatic. Then you add in the throw, and then the sit nicely while I throw bit. When we change from the ball to the dumbbell...every time it's Hier, Sit, Hold on the return so it becomes an automatic behavior cued on that piece of equipment and formal retrieve posture.

The hardest part in this kind of retrieve for us has been the hold, probably because it's the one thing we really have to teach. Once they get that piece, the go out and come back has been a piece of cake and has required virtually no training.

Bianka vom Eisernen Loewen IPO3, CGC, TC 1-3-08
Cade vom Eisernen Loewen IPO1, CGC 3-25-09
D'Artagnan (Tag) vom Eisernen Loewen BH 2-2-10
G Aiko von Burkndeiros SchH 3, IPO3, FH, TC, KKL2 9-17-02 (Retired)


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Last edited by JKlatsky; 08-08-2010 at 10:27 PM.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-09-2010, 08:53 PM
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This is how I taught mine. Totally freeshaped and backchained, never had any leash or collar on the dog while doing the training. This is a training style I am most familiar with (though don't side with all the time) and found it most comfortable and appropriate for the retrieve. However my dog is very "operant" (very easy to freeshape) and has always been a natural retriever so there was no need for force as he wanted to do the behaviors, just needed the expectations made crystal clear.

http://www.dutchbingo.net/personal/H...20Retrieve.pdf

This video is old but is the most current I have. He now does all three retrieves (or three flat retrieves without a jump or A-frame present) before doing a finish and getting a reward (which is no longer in sight), and his front position is better because he finally starting tucking his butt under for the sit rather than rocking back. Now he is basically laying his chin on my abdomen and tucking under, not slamming into me and sitting back. Also his jumping has gotten better (worked on that separately).



What I like most about what we have achieved with this method is consistency. He's never dropped the dumbbell prematurely, never had problems picking it up (because I taught him to take it and hold it, never put it in his mouth or forced him to pick it up), no problems outing because I used a higher value reward and didn't do drive building FOR the dumbbell (considered it but decided not to as I felt things were going well on their own and it could only make him more hectic, as it is now he will bark and "leak" sometimes anyway). Our most common problem has been our training field grass being too long and him not seeing the dumbbell. He has never had problems being chewy. Because we spend months just on the hold alone, he's always had a firm, calm grip. Also I like that his speed going out and coming back is the same. He is not the fastest dog and is not obsessed with a dumbbell as a prey object but he is very consistent and goes out and back at the same speed which I think is fast enough (you be the judge and tell me otherwise if we need more speed). We just took it really slowly and so far have not had to "fix" anything.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-09-2010, 09:04 PM
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Hogan is not into running back to me for a game of tug.
That may be a life's work! So, I don't have that rapid return to me with anything. If I add trading, then I build the drive up for the DB with the reward and the return tends to be faster in order to get the toy or food.

I like the subtle message that the placement of the DB in the mouth sends to the dog. This is an introduction to obedience and compulsion for mine. I also almost can't wait to get the behavior created well enough to finish off with compulsion. My dogs have all had a great increase in enthusiasm and power once some compulsion was added. It doesn't have a detrimental effect because in the end they think it was their idea anyway! For some reason, the compulsion I finish with really makes my dogs say "heck yeah" and they then enjoy the exercise more than before. Call me crazy!
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