Pick up on the retrieve - Help - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Pick up on the retrieve - Help

Since I'm working towards a BH/OB1 with Mirada, I have a question about the retrieve.

Mirada has a really nice, zippy go out on the retrieve, but without fail, she overshoots the dumbbell. She does not run it over, knock it, or play with it, she simply just runs past it and picks it up (cleanly) on the return.

Is this going to be a big problem? If it is, I want to start retraining the pick up now, and will happily take suggestions. Also looking for a quicker return, so suggestions on that would also be appreciated.

She's not terribly slow...she doesn't walk back, but she doesn't run either. She trots back, which is annoying since she charges out after it like a rocket. Again, if it's not a terribly big deal, I'm not going to fret on it, but if it's something I need to really fix, I'd like to get that done straight away.

Jackie and the
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:25 AM
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A lot of different things that you can do for these problems.

The first thing you may want to try for the pickup is to simply throw, or place, the dumbell against a solid object. A tree, or wall (NOT the A-frame or jump) for example.

For a faster return, you can often make more speed by simply increasing distance. Throw the dumbell further and then as the dog goes out run backwards so that when the dog turns around you are further away. Many people use the system of throwing a ball between their legs as the dog returns, and this can be very effective. However, I don't like it because I do not like the thought of giving the dog the idea that it can drop the dumbell. But as I said, that is me, many use it very successfully.

There are many, many other ways to accomplish this, but, if I were you, I would start with these. They are simple, effective, and unlikely to cause problems that can occur with other methods if they are not done correctly.


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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The first thing you may want to try for the pickup is to simply throw, or place, the dumbell against a solid object. A tree, or wall (NOT the A-frame or jump) for example.
Ah! Thanks! I've got several places where I can do this and get the issue fixed. I appreciate it!

Right now I'm doing the running backwards thing (after the pickup...if I do it on the go out, she comes back), but she'll only increase speed if she sees me doing it. She doesn't seem to get it that I want her to come in quick ALL the time. Should I continue in this manner and only mark for quick returns?

There are many things I really do like about her retrieve, I'm just trying to polish.

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Many people use the system of throwing a ball between their legs as the dog returns, and this can be very effective. However, I don't like it because I do not like the thought of giving the dog the idea that it can drop the dumbell.
I don't like it because I'll fall on my dog, lol. So I'm with you on that one.

Jackie and the
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:44 AM
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Please tell me what you do now when the dog returns to you.

So the dog goes out
returns
is sitting front
Then what are you doing?


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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 09:33 AM
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I'd work out a way to speed her up a bit more, consistently. Personally I have not seen much success (just in general) when a dog is inconsistent and only being marked/rewarded for the "good" behavior. Maybe every once in a while I will tell my dog he didn't earn it b/c it wasn't right but in general I don't like that concept during the training process, if that makes sense? I think dogs are too much in the "now" and don't stop to think, "well I got a reward three times a ago so what did I do then that I'm not doing now....?" I'd rather just *make* it happen every time, whether that is drive, luring, force, props...whatever.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 09:36 AM
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I tend to use the throwing the DB up against an object that Art mentioned. I actually do this a lot in just regular ball play/fetch with the dog, starting when they are young, well before I'm actually teaching a formal retrieve. That way the dog has practiced and habituated a slam on the breaks-grab object-spin around 180-start running again sort of pick up before we even get to the retrieve and as a result tends to pick the DB up the same way.

For a faster return, fast returns are a matter of drive level. The dog needs to be at the same high level of drive on the return as on the go out in order to show the same speed. How this is accomplished depends on the individual dog and what will motivate that dog for a fast return. Forced retrieving certainly accomplishes it, but that's not the method of choice for many people teacing retrieves (myself included), so other ways have to be found. It might be food reward, toy reward, just lots of praise, playing tug with the DB when the dog brings it back, etc... I've seen a couple people successfully use placeboards for this. This can be especially effective if the dog is trained to recall to a placeboard in front of the handler (often used to teach straight fronts) as it's not much of a jump in understanding for the dog to recall with a DB in her mouth.

Each of those can have unintended side effects with some dogs, like the throwing the ball between the legs causing the dog to drop the DB that Art mentioned, playing tug creating mouthiness on the DB. That won't happen with all dogs, so it can require some experimentation to find what works best to motivate that individual dog without creating any bad habits. Mixing up a variety of those things, both to keep the dog guessing (which builds drive) and to help prevent any sort of bad habits through anticipation, is usually what I do.

I don't like to do the back up thing in retrieves or recalls very often because it does often create a situation where the dog won't speed up unless they do see the handler back up, and the backing up becomes the cue for speed. That's a hard cue to fade, and also a bad habit for the handler to get into as accidentally doing it in trial can be deadly as far as points go.

What I will often do is work on really motivational recalls with restrained recalls, throwing the ball between my legs, etc... without the DB and then rather than just say "brings" when doing retrieves I'll say "brings heir" and add my recall word. If the dog has been conditioned to hit the afterburners when she hears "heir" then just using that word in retrieve training will through that association speed up the return in retrieving as well. And "heir" is an easier cue to fade out once the dog has habituated fast returns than backing up or most anything else.


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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:15 PM
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I don't like to do the back up thing in retrieves or recalls very often because it does often create a situation where the dog won't speed up unless they do see the handler back up, and the backing up becomes the cue for speed. That's a hard cue to fade, and also a bad habit for the handler to get into as accidentally doing it in trial can be deadly as far as points go.
And this is why it is important to backup as the dog is going out. The dog should not see the handler backup, when he gets the dumbell and turns around the handler should be standing as normal, only the handler is now very far from the dog.


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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:36 PM
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I don't like the run backwards thing either, but I have seen turning and running away just as the dog picks up the DB and then turning back around for the front to actually work. I throw the ball between my legs and have good success with this in both my dogs that had play retrieves and forced retrieves. I always say out first and if the dog makes a mistake I just tell them "no/bring" and we do it over. I have yet to find a dog that didn't figure this out quickly.

Something many people do is way too much formal stuff once the dog comes into the front position. Why would I run back quickly if my handler is going to make me sit there for ever, fixing the front, telling me to hold, correcting me for not holding, always show me the formal "aus/finish", etc?

I do NOT like to ever make the DB a toy or tug toy. I have seen this cause conflict in too many dogs.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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All excellent ideas, and great thoughts

Mirada will not tug with the dumbbell (I had to do this with Strauss to keep the dummy interesting for him after it was "Dead", but she doesn't need this).

I've got some young assistants that can help me with restrained recalls, to build up that drive and we can try and get her where she needs to be.

I've been very lucky in that Mirada just LIKES to pick things up and hold them, so teaching her a retrieve in general has been very, very easy (spoiled me, really). And when she comes back, she's not walking, and she is returning slowly...it's just at a trot instead of a gallop. Probably because she got the exciting thing she wanted, so now she feels she can just mosey on back.

All the help is really great, and I'll be going out to work on these issues shortly. I generally don't enjoy training obedience, as it's a bit stagnant for me, but I have to admit that this little girl tends to make it really enjoyable

Jackie and the
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 01:04 PM
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Throwing longer does seem to really speed up Nikon overall, including a snappy pickup. I don't like backing up either, I just throw longer at the beginning.

One trick you can do is to find out which way your dog turns and do them a favor with your toss, tossing ever so slightly off center depending on which way.
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