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The only way I've been trained to teach a retrieve is with the ear pinch. Zack and I have a special bond, and if suddenly I pinched his ear, he'd be horrified. He retrieves balls & toys just fine, so he does have the instinct.

I got a book The Clicked Retriever, but we aren't much further along than him putting the dumbbell in his mouth. We've stalled.

I really don't want to do an ear pinch. Has anybody trained a retrieve without one?

TIA!
 

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Your instinct is right, dont pinch his ear.......Ava retrieves because chasing the ball is more fun than playing with it alone. So, A great book to read is "the other end of the leash".
Begin by tossing a short distance when gets the ball make it into a game of him chasing you. He may run off with the ball, let him, and start running away from him........I bet he will chase after you. Dogs easily teach us to chase them when they grab something because we do go after them. but if we turn and go the other way, that encourges him to follow after you and not run away with the ball. Try tossing the ball and run away after he grabs it.

Whoops missed the the part that he already does this with Balls and toys, sorry.

I have Ava bring me the phone or remote, this was taught first by teaching her what it was...My husband would hand Ava the phone and direct her where to go, pretty soon she understood that she can carry stuff back and forth, now whe will get other things as well but I have to get her to understand the word for it first.
 

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It actually sounds like you starting in the right direction-at least the same as I did with Kayla. You want to try to backchain the retrieve. I'll try to find the article that explains it clearly (there wer some discussions in the Front & Finish magazines last year). I'll try to explain a little here-from my working with Kayla on building the retrieve.


Start with placing the dumbbell in his mouth and mark and award (click, praise, treat) when he does it. Shift the mark and award to when he releases to your hand. At first it will probably be real quick. You want to work on this part until you get the timing down with you telling him to give it to you before he releases to your hand. Patience with these first two steps!

When you've established that Zack gets the award only for waiting for you to take the dumbbell start extending the time between him taking the dumbbell and you having him release. You want to establish the release (on your say so) as the "money" point.

Then you start moving the dumbbell around and farther away for Zack to take it and bring and hold until you take it, mark and "pay" him. Eventually you start tossing a distance for him to pick up.

This worked really well with Kayla. When we finally started the exercises in class, when I would put the dumbbell away, she would go looking for it, getting it if possible and bringing it back to me

And go with your instinct! No ear pinching!
 

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The only classes available teach the ear pinch? Or is that the only way you know and you haven't found any dog classes?

I would NEVER use an ear pinch to teach my dogs the retrieve when there are other methods available. To the extent I wouldn't do obedience if I wasn't able to take the time and effort to learn a new and non-painful method. Geez, the only reason my dog is out there training is for me, and if I can't find a way to train that works well for both of us, that's my problem and I don't feel my dog needs to pay with a sore ear....

I'm hoping you were using tons of clicker training to teach your dog EVERYTHING, not just suddenly pulling it out for this retrieve thing. Much clearer to dog and handler when we start learning the clicker together in all our training. Since I know chickens can be trained to do behaviors with the clicker, if I'm having trouble with my dog it's got to be my problem to work on it properly (I refuse to believe my dogs are dumber than a chicken).

Here's more info on training the retrieve:

Front and Finish article, go to page 50!!! Front and Finish Article - go to page 50

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/LA/bregman1.htm

http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/retrieve.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybX0CD2CbG4&feature=related (great video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qpBDIh_dQI (this is a REALLY good video! shows how you can click the wrong thing, and it's still ok. The guy is great at shutting up and waiting so the dog figures it all out. And that you may miss something and it's ok. And you need lot's of PATIENCE... (I'd use smaller softer treats though)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SshLMSl0ByA
 

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Don't give up! A stall is just a temporary lull in training .. many dogs (and people) need these lulls in order to let the information sink in better. Training some behaviors can be a lesson in patience for us humans.

I, too, learned the ear pinch method initially as that was what was taught two decades ago when I started training. But I moved away from the forced retrieve successfully and my current dog (a chow - NOT a breed high on the "natural retriever" list) is doing competition retrieves that were purely positive trained.

The Clicked Retriever is an excellent place to start. If he's happily taking the dumbbell into his mouth, you just need to vary things a bit - but use LOTS of patience. Will he take it from your hand when you hold it above his head, below his head, to the right and to the left? Add these in slowly, and gradually expect him to reach farther and farther for it. It can be difficult for some dogs to understand that they need to reach down for it, so I would bring the dumbbell up to eye level and then move it down below the chin, immediately encouraging the dog to take it.

You may need to have him start to take the dumbbell off of a stair or a chair - something that's above floor level but still has him picking it up instead of taking it from your hand. Some dogs get stuck on the concept of your hand being part of the signal. But if you can stick the dumbbell in front of him on a chair and get him to take it, that's a step in the right direction. Stairs work nicely because you can start with a higher stair and then move to a lower stair (and eventually to the floor).

Try sliding the treat into his mouth as you take the dumbbell out. You may want to use a verbal "YES!" with this instead of the click, so that you can say "YES!" as you give him the treat (to avoid having him think that he can drop the dumbbell when he hears the marker sound/word).

If he'll hold the dumbbell, try having him step forward one step before you take it. For a dog, holding the dumbbell and actually moving with the dumbbell can be completely different. You may have to break it down into really tiny steps.

I taught a positive retrieve to one of my chows who had ZERO (and I mean zero!) retrieving instinct. She was 14 months old when I got her so I missed the early stages when I might have been able to reinforce toy play. But with persistence I was able to get her to pick things up for me, and now she will run over eagerly when I pull out the dumbbell. It took a long time for her because of her lack of retrieving instinct, but I proved to myself that this method can and does work on dogs even if they don't naturally want to retrieve.

Good luck!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OMG. I put the dumbbell on the floor, did the click/treat for touches & soon picking up the dumbbell - all in one session
. We kept it short (10 minutes) and ended at a high note.

So many good tips! Loved the video. Realized that my jackpots need to be feed one at a time - not a handful.

We'll progress very slowly - a good retrieve is too important to rush. Thanks to everybody who replied. I've printed/bookmarked all of the references.
 

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So excited about my success that I didn't reply to the other emails...

I learned the ear pinch 25 years ago when Koehler was the only thing taught around here. I used it on my first shepherd & she ended up hating obedience. Of course, Koehler isn't exactly the candy man.

I've been clicker training for about 15 years, and was lucky to have a natural retriever (flat coat) who never needed to be forced to retrieve.

I sometimes train with a club that eshews prong collars - but they pinch ears. Watched a sheltie, totally bewildered, getting its ear pinched to retrieve this little pint-sized dumbbell. Very very sad. I'd rather not show obedience if I had to resort to that again. Titles aren't that important. Just my opinion.
 

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I know that at our Club, if the drive to retrieve is there, we can try and make the dumbbell a toy....so you can put it on a rope to chase or wrap the dumbbell with rope (so it doesn't get too mangled) and we play "tug" with it.

We throw the dumbbell over time and when the dog learns that if he returns back with it that he gets to "tug" and play we have the basics down.

Just another idea to make it fun for the dog. Nothing negative for the dog and works for those out there that aren't a "marker and clicker" when it comes to obedience. I learned that the key is to break it down into several steps. And play is a fine way to start.
 

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there is a great video on retrieves - Pawsitively Fetching - Lisa Clark knows the trainer in it - you can get it on dogwise too....I used it for my DDR (read ADD) female and although she is not a speed demon, she learned a very reliable retrieve.

No ear pinch or forced retrieves here either.

Lee
 

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Just wanted to thank you all for the advice on the ear pinch. We were going to be stuck in novice forever as around here the ear pinch is basically all they train. I won't do that with Halley. My girl is shy and that would be extremely bad for her.

We followed your advice with the clicker and rewarding her when I say "out" and my girl is now holding the dumpbell for sometime. We still have quite a way to go but both of us are happy and that is what it is all about.

Pat Moreno
Sammy & Halley
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I, too, am getting good results without an ear pinch. Sometimes he gets a little distracted when I throw the dumbbell, but he's only 1.5 years old & we're light years away from an open ring. And in the end, I'd rather flunk than think I had to pinch his ear.
 

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Good for you. I think the term ear pinch is a little misleading as when I first heard about it, it didn't sound so bad. But if you have ever seen it done, it is much more than a pinch.
 
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