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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I've asked this before, and got sympathy but no solutions.
I'm kinda at a loss!


Grimm absolutely LOVES carrying stuff while in heel. He thinks he is THE MAN. We both love it, it feels really fun to be working as a team-- even though his vibe right now is playful puppy, still.

BUT-- as he carries stuff, he happily jiggles it about in his mouth! Rarely, he'll drop the object due to this, but it's rare. Still-- I want to teach a calm hold. Should I back up, and teach "Take it" again... but do something differently? Use a calmer voice? Correct verbally "ehh-ehh" if he juggles?

He doesn't do this with every object, just sometimes. He is accustomed to light things, paper, metal (not a fave!), and crinkly bags with objects in them.

Ideas for teaching a calmer hold?
 

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Patti, do you have an "easy" command for Grimm? When we say "easy" that means Elmo can take what we are giving him, but he has to be very gentle. I'm not sure if it would work while carrying something around though. But, it's worth a shot.
 

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Look at this thread, it is about SchH retrieves with the dumbell, but there is conversation a calm hold with some good links and videos.
 

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If he hasn't learned a specific "hold" command, it would be good to teach him that. There's a difference when my dogs are carrying something just because they want to (play time) and carrying something that they've been told to carry (work time).

"Take it" to my dogs means pick it up. "Hold" means hold it calmly in the mouth until I take it from them.

I've also used weighted dumbbells or objects. A heavier object is harder to juggle. And some dumbbells are weighted only on one end (for training purposes). Dogs have a difficult time juggling something that is heavy on one end.

With Tazer, who is still very much in the training stages of retrieving, I've found I've had to bump under her chin with my hand to help her understand hold. I haven't had to do that with all dogs, but she has such a hard time being calm and still that she needs the physical reminder. It's not hard - just a little bump of my hand while I tell her "hold" so that she'll stop playing with the dumbbell.

I taught both Trick and Khana (chow) to retrieve very well using no corrections (no forced retrieve). Khana, today, was picking up my keys from the floor while we were waiting in line at the post office. It was a LONG line, so we were doing some training while waiting. People were very impressed .. *LOL* .. but then it doesn't take much to impress people when it comes to having our dogs do something.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Sometimes when dogs do stuff like Grimm I think us humans should just smile and accept it.

Of course you could change Grimm's behavior, but is it really important. If Grimm is being trained to be a highly competitive dog, perhaps a change is in order. Otherwise, smile and have fun.

Sounds like a great dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Timber, he's needed to carry things for me, that will be his job. Thank you, he is a super dog-- but very enthusiastic/silly at this age.

Catu, did you mean to post a link?
I wanna read it!

Bonita, Hmm.. he has a "Slow" command.. maybe that would help? How responsive is Elmo to his "easy" command? Do you switch to a deeper tone of voice, and say it slowly?

Melanie-- Hmm.. a weighted dumbbell... that is not a bad idea. I wonder if that would help break the habit?

Also, Grimm was taught retrieving with zero force, all fun. I absolutely do use corrections when I need to with Grimm, but not when I don't need to. I began with the 2-toy retrieval game ("Bring!"...."Out!"....Goooood Boyyyy!!")when he was 9 weeks old. (really!) Later on after a few months, I had him sit at heel at my side, I held the object in front of him, and softly said "take it." Then we moved right away into "Heel." He LOVES this game!! In fact, this is the only training GAME that he seems to get the idea that it is "work"-- and he gets all happy-proud-important about it. He gets tons of soothing praise as he carries the object walking next to me. BIG DEAL for him-- really proud of himself! We have done this outdoors, too, since indoors was working so well. (I have designed my livingroom and hallway deliberately to accomodate play-training indoors!) We haven't gone anywhere outside, just in the front parkinglot of my apartment building so far.

Guess I should back up and find a way to calm that hold after he "Takes it." Maybe carrying heavier things would help?
 

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I would teach him that HOLD means something different than just Take It.

I like the idea of having one side heavier than the other. When I was retraining Neke to hold something I would have her take it and then (gently at first) try to pull it from her. This made her bite down and grasp the object more firmly.
 

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Patti, heavier objects may help him, but unless he's taught to not juggle he'll probably continue to juggle lighter objects. It may even be self-reinforcing (kind of like a play behavior) for him. So teaching him a specific "hold" command that means "hold onto it firmly and don't mouth it" will probably be necessary.

I teach retrieving as a structured set of exercises. It's reinforced and not a "forced retrieve" (ear pinch or toe pinch) but it's not just a play retrieve either. I put the dog on leash so they can't wander off, and then first reward just for looking at the dumbbell (and I do use a dumbbell for the initial training as it's never used as a toy). When they can quickly and consistently look at the dumbbell no matter where I'm holding it (to the left, right, over the head, below the chin) then I expect to move to the next step - touching it (or at least moving toward it). Some dogs, especially those with natural retrieving instinct, will take this step on their own without any encouragement from me. Others need to figure it out.

So what I do is hold out the dumbbell, and the dog looks at it and then back at me expecting a reward. And I dont' reward. I just sit there and smile, and the dog's natural frustration pushes him to escalate the behavior. He will make some sort of movement toward the dumbbell at some point. Most dogs do it relatively quickly because they WANT the reward and they probably think we're idiots for forgetting to reward them (just kidding .. *L*). And when the dog moves toward the dumbbell, that's the behavior I mark (I use "YES!!") and reward.

Once they're consistently moving toward the dumbbell, I change the criteria and they have to touch it. I withhold the reward, the behavior escalates, I mark and reward the new behavior. And then they have to hold it, etc.

This way the dog is actually trained to do something and isn't retrieving just because it's a play activity. They're learning an established behavior under controlled circumstances. My last two dogs have been trained to competition level using this method and NO ear pinch (which is the normal retrieving method used by many, if not most, obedience competitors). I used the ear pinch successfully in the "old days" and was told I'd never get a reliable retrieve without a forced fetch. It's not true. My dogs have proved that (and one of those dogs is a CHOW .. *L*).

Anyhow, hope this gave you some ideas on how to work with Grimm. I love teaching my dogs to retrieve. It's such a handy behavior even for people who don't have disabilities like we do (I can relate to your difficulties, believe me!).

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
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