My last two dogs. Elena and LB, I did some various types of shaped retrieves starting with touching the dumbbell, to gripping, to holding, to picking it up, etc. Each was done a hair differently because both dogs were different in their drive level. I did a play retrieve with a very drivey dog years ago and spent 3 years trying to get the grip calm. NEVER EVER will do that again. The other 7 dogs were started with force and then finished depending on the dog (toy for 6 and electric for 1). Except for the first dog I ever taught a retrieve to, they were all very reliable.
I have free shaped the end meaning she will hold bring it, sit in front and out. I am having trouble getting her to pick it up. I keep marking her putting her teeth around it, and waiting for a snatch, but we are stuck there. If I make a game of it and throw it, she starts to chew the ends and sometimes will pick it up properly. BUT only sometimes. Not sure what to do or try?
I would work on that part with a clicker. If she touches it, then click/reward, eventually she will put her mouth on it. You could also wiggle it just enough to elicit the prey drive, but not enough to make her crazy so she chews. Once she will take it from your hand you slowly move it towards the floor. Have her take it part way down, then just above the floor, then on the floor, but you holding it and then set on the floor. This part can take awhile with some dogs, but you want to keep it calm so she doesn't start to chew.
Have you always let her take it? Or did you ever in the beginning put it in her mouth? It can show them they have to do it. Something else you can try that would go along with the prey drive like Lisa mentioned. Put two short tethers on the ends, hold it by the bells and see if she'll strike it like she would a tug, then do like Lisa said using the tethers to just gently move it side to side.
My older one went through a period where he didn't want to pick up. I put all his other toys away for a couple weeks and played only with the dumbell like that, strike and hold. Then when I did throw it he picked up fine.
Steve, I used Michael Ellis's video. First, I held her mouth mark/reward, then hold her mouth and gently guide her to me, mark/reward. Then used a PVC Pipe the same diameter put it in her mouth hold mark/reward, then hold and gently bring her toward me, mark/reward. Finally she was brining it to me and sitting in front, I marked and released reward.
Then I switched to a plastic dumbbell on the ground and began to shape the pick up. Now we are finally using the wooden one and are slowly getting some little pick ups. If I play throw it she runs to it and chews the ends, so that's out. I like your suggestion of the strings on the ends, because she likes to jump for it. We'll see how it goes.
I don't remember, are you working your ob with anyone gsd? If not, if you are using video's I'd think about looking at Ivan's retrieve video. The out and back, pick up, are created with a toy and hold is trained with a dowel separately. Its real simple to follow and shapes the right amount of your dog really wanting to along with knowing they have to. Mostly I think the knowing they have to when you aren't doing a forced retrieve is where there's the majority of problems. Sometimes we end up doing too much of the work, like the leading her while holding her mouth, sometimes I think that's the kind of help that's tough to get away from.
Yes Steve, I began with a dowel and PVC pipe. Now doing the p/u with regular wooden dumbbell. She is picking it up better each time. I am seeing progress. I may check Ivan's video. However, She is definitely ball motivated, not so much tug. I know she will run to the dumbbell if I throw it but as I said she may pick it up wrong. so I am trying to avoid that.