PNW NAVHDA Training Day

June 17, 2006

  

TRAINING DOGS TO RETRIEVE – BACK TO FRONT!

Howard Meyer

Chippewa Kennel

 

Three most important commands for pointing dogs:  Whoa, Whoa and Whoa

Three most important steps for teaching retrieving:  Carry, Carry, Carry

The incidence of retrieving problems increases as a dog gets closer to completing a retrieving exercise, e.g. virtually every dog will run out to the retrieving object, most pick it up and start back, fewer come all the way back, fewer still bring it to hand, etc.  My approach to all training situations is avoiding (rather than fixing) problems, so I start pups with holding, carrying, and giving me the retrieving object – in my case a dummy with bird wings attached.

Critical steps/concepts:

  1. No play/chew toys – pine cones for chewing, pups lose interest so chew nothing;
  2. Carry object is MINE – no ownership issues now or later when birds are retrieved;
  3. Carry object is item the pup likes to hold/carry – e.g. dummy with bird wing;
  4. Carry while at heel – make the carrying a routine while pup is concentrating on heeling;
  5. Dummy dropping means dummy loss, at least for the next 100 yds of heeling;
  6. Carry/give, carry/give, becomes routine before first toss of dummy;
  7. First dummy toss under controlled conditions in routine setting;
  8. No chewing on dummy at any time – penalty is loss of dummy;
  9. Make carry objects more interesting – e.g. dead birds, then live birds.
  10. Make carry objects more boring – awkward, heavier, etc.
  11. Be patient – let dog get a grip on awkward objects;
  12. Use carrying as a reward – Let dog carry bird all the way back to truck;
  13. Goal is for dog to carry object without even realizing it is carrying;
  14. Provide carry object at every opportunity – cap, glove, etc.
  15. Reward, praise at every opportunity.

End product:  Dog that searches, finds and retrieves birds to hand without delay or damage to birds.  NAVHDA definition of birds being ‘fit for consumption’ is not good enough!

 

Retrieving photos (up to and including 30# coyote):  www.chippewa-gsp.com