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Force Fetch Yes or No
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Thread: Force Fetch Yes or No

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Near Peoria IL (Dunlap)
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    Thumbs down Force Fetch Yes or No

    I have an 10 month old female Wildrose pup who meets most pro trainers criteria for ready to start Force Fetch. More recent articles from RM and others suggest it may not be necessary to do FF with a dog that is fetching and delivering to hand with little or no problems. Annie generally fits that profile, but is a little sloppy in the mouth close in. With a little work she improves and carries dummies on lead fine. My objectives in doing FF would be bold confident dog with a good firm mouth. Annie is maybe 45 lbs and I can see large mallards being a problem if she's not more firm in the mouth. I'm two day's into condition hold and she's holding a dowel with gentle support of the lower jaw. I've done 5 reps each day for 30 sec with no significant issues. I've successfully done FF with two other dogs, but I'm making much more of a commitment to low pressure training processes. I've considered stopping after the condition hold, but feel I have what it takes in both approach and a quick learning dog to go the distance with FF. Any comment?? Don't tell me I have this new indoor 16 ft table just so Annie can run up and down it in this cold Illinois weather

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Default

    Sounds like you are making a lot of assumptons about problems that may not be encountered. If the dog is delivering to hand, I would leave it alone. Dogs generally end up carrying objects in the mose efficient manner for that object. Generally the sloppy carrying comes from plastic dummies. Try canvas ones. Try dokken ducks. Find what she carries to your satisfaction, and establish the behavior with it. I try to look at training as me making it easy for the dog to do what I want. I do not look at it as a contest with me looking for ways to make the dog do what I want. Typically the dogs of good British Breeding don't require force fetch. Here is more than you probably want to read on my opinions on force fetch:
    http://duckhillkennels.com/forums/showthread.php?t=53

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Birchwood, WI
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    141

    Default

    I can tell you without a doubt that your dog will have no problems with large mallards. I have a 45 lb female that handles geese with great efficiency. Oh, and never force fetched. I own three dogs, force fetched one of them. The other two have been shaped to do the work correctly.

    Like Robert said, no need to "make" your dog do something it's already doing. Reinforce the actions you want.

    Along the lines of dummy carrying. I would echo the sentiments on the canvas dummies and if your dog cigars any dummy....real honestly, who cares, you can't cigar a duck!!! LOL

    Sounds like you have a good little pup.

    Kg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Near Peoria IL (Dunlap)
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    Default Thanks for the Help

    Good Morning,

    First, I what to thank you Robert for you personal help and instruction. I been a student of you work for 10 years or more and used your book Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter when training my first duck dog. It's been this book I reviewed the most when starting on this new project and I of course have lots of other training materials (Bill Tarrant, Butch Goodwin, and Mike Stewart, etc.). My anticipating a problem is most likely a result of what I've experienced and seems to be a focus in most of my training reference materials. Some of these are dated (yours 1985), and I understand it was written specifically for the 50-percentile dog and should be adjusted for the differences in dogs pointed out in the beginning of the book. I'm glad I asked the questions as I was going forward with FF as you don't build a 3 ft x 16 ft table with all the trappings unless you have plans.

    I'm going at this subject one more time just to ensure I'm not missing something. I only use fire hose and canvas dummies and also have one Dokken Wood Duck that Annie seems to like. She is not a problem dummy dropper and it's sort of like she's so soft mouthed sheíll sometimes ďfumble the ballĒ before the handoff. I asked the question on FF as if I was worried about this problem, but was more interested in the other often talked about attributes coming out of FF and are they generally realized and worth going after.

    1. Focused intensity
    2. Taking control of the retrieve response
    3. Dramatically easier to steady
    4. Magic and the Best thing since nickel beer

    I think I know the answer as Iím not anticipating problems in the first three attributes and I donít believe in magic and no one remembers 5 cent beer. I plan on completing the conditioned hold as after three short lessons sheís 90% there on the dowel.

    Thanks for the other comments and responses to my question as trainers we need encouragement just as much as 4 legged students.

    Regards,

    Bob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    WDSprings,

    Thanks for the kind words. I like your list of attributes:

    1. Focused intensity
    2. Taking control of the retrieve response
    3. Dramatically easier to steady
    4. Magic and the Best thing since nickel beer

    Those are the very attributes I get from the practice of the trainer (or another dog)picking up most (50 to 75%) of the dummies or birds that fall. To that list I would add easier to extablish the behavior of stopping on whistle for a directional cast.

    Other than delivery to hand, force fetch serves as a basis for forcing the dog to go (i.e. first to a pile of dummies, then on lines, sometimes into the water)
    The only reason you would need to do this forcing is in anticipation of refusals to go.
    Those refusals would generally be generated by either punishments applied "out there" or by too much repettion or a combination of those.
    If you build your training plan properly, you won't put yourself in the position of generating refusals in the first place.

    In other words, I think that if a dog is delivering to hand there is no need to subject the dog to force fetch.

    That's my current opinion of Force Fetch. My opinion has obviously changed since I wrote "Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter"(early 1980's )

    I definitely don't worry about a dog that is dropping a dummy or bird occaisionally out of having a soft mouth. I consider that a good problem to have. That cures itself as the dog gains more experience.

    Best Regards,
    Robert Milner

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Indiana
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    WDSprings,

    It sounds like you've got yourself a nice new 3' X 16' workbench! From my perspective the FF "light" that Robert has previously described and that I have used is to teach the dog the meanings of the following three commands:

    1. "Fetch" = Get the desired object in your mouth.
    2. "Hold" = Don't drop it or mouth it.
    3. "Give" = Release the object.

    I think the added drive and determination and all of the other magic that it associated with FF in traditional E-collar training comes from the dog's understanding that he MUST get the desired object, regardless of the obstacles and other hardships that may lie in his way OR he will receive a correction (euphamism for punishment). This may be necessary for a dog that will be running in field trials or upper level hunt tests, but in my opinion this level of FF is not necessary for a gundog that has at least a modicum of drive, desire, and birdiness (and if he doesn't meet that standard he is not a good candidate for a gundog anyway).

    Your dog is still young. It sounds like maturity and experience will take care of your areas of concern. The only other comment I have is: Where did you say I could get that nickle Beer?

    Swack

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Near Peoria IL (Dunlap)
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    Default Nickel Beer??

    You'll have to ask Robert about the nickel beer as I think that was his slant on the best thing since sliced bread. If could find nickel beer I be able to better fund some of these hobbies.

    Thanks for your insights and comments. I'm going forward with the condition hold and after 4 short lessons Annie is holding the dowel without aid for over 30 seconds. The last sequence today she was gripping the dowel more and she had to open the grip to expel the dowel instead of just lowering her head to let it fall out. I not doing the FF unless something changes.

    I warmed up to over 60 degrees today and that allowed for some field work late in the afternoon. I was reluctant to do anything but the condition hold, but she's not hesitating or balking and seems to enjoy the table running, so I figured a little obedience work in the field and a couple of long marks with the launcher would be ok. I took the old dog along and did several throws and launches and picked up over half of them. Annie is steady on the hand thrown dummies, starts to break at the shot of the launcher. I restrain her on a 6 foot lead and then let her go once she sits and I call her name. I don't think Iím worried much more about drive and the hold as she flies both directions and while the old dog trotís down and mostly walks back.

    10-4 on the work bench, I built them in two 8 ft sections, it will look a little less funny once I remove the supports and cable and separate them into a couple work areas. I donít plan to field trial this dog and have a better appreciation for letting her natural abilities come through and God knows I spent enough nickels to acquire the breeding, I should take advantage of my hard earned investment.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Indiana
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    WDSprings,

    I like your last sentence! Your thoughts about letting her natural abilities come through is one that more trainers should embrace. I believe that our job as retriever owners and trainers is to put our dogs in a position to discover their talents and help to shape them in a way that they meet our needs. Too often I think that retirever trainers are looking for a problem to "fix". I like to use analogies to illustrate things. See if this one rings true.

    If dogs were cars I think trainers are like mechanics. A guy goes to the auto shop and tells the mechanic that his car isn't stopping as quickly as he would like and it doesn't have the acceleration that he wishes it had either. The mechanic takes a look and installs some new high tech brake pads and rotors and tunes up the engine and puts some fuel additive in the gas tank. The car owner comes back and takes the car for a test drive and it does perfom a little better, so he's happy.

    I believe that dog breeders are more like car design engineers. Word comes to him from his boss that a certain model of auto they are producing has poor braking characteristics and unimpressive power. The engineer looks at the design specifications and decides that if he takes the superior braking system from another vehicle they design and pair that with a more powerful engine that they use in a different auto they build and put that on the existing chassis and body then next year's model will be an improvement on the current model.

    In other words, if a dog tends to coast on his whistle stops and doesn't have the drive that his owner would like him to have a trainer will tinker with the dog to improve his performance. The breeder, on the other hand, will see the dog's shortcomings and look for a way to breed a dog in the next generation that is better in those areas of concern.

    We need both mechanics and engineers. However, being an engineer at heart, I believe that the better the car is designed the less money we will have to spend on mechanics!

    Swack

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Southern IL
    Posts
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    Default

    I love the mechanic/engineer analogy! Superb.
    "If you train a young dog for momentum, precision will arrive. If you train for precision, demanding perfection, momentum will depart."
    ~Rex Carr

  10. #10
    Virginia Guest

    Default Retrievers and birds

    This weekend I am traveling about 12 hours there and 12 more back home. The good news is that I will have a new pick of the litter male black lab from a great litter with me for the ride home. Our last lab passed away one year ago, another five years earlier. Those dogs were completely homeschooled, without force fetch or e collars, etc. The male embarassed me many a time at fun day field work because he held no interest whatsoever in picking up nor carrying back to me a dummy of any kind. One day during duck season, my husband relented and let me take the dog because our little bitch was in season and we did not want to risk her being out. What can I tell you? The ducks cupped their wings over the water, I shot. The drake fell and I sent my now-eager boy. The light bulb went on over his head and we were on our was to having our best hunter of all time. A great companion, he hunted with me in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. Incidently, he also became my AKC show Champion. His greatest day included a morning duck hunt in the Mississippi Delta followed by a short nap in the SUV, a quick rubdown with a damp towel and on to the showgrounds for a Winner's Dog ribbon and Championship point with me handling!

    My point in this is that these dogs are smarter than us and it is our job to figure out how to help them understand what pleases us. Let me just say that they are not liable to drop a duck when the alternative is to hold it in their mouths and deliver to the hand of their beloved person. At least mine never did.

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