The FetchMasters Positive Trained Retrieve
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Frequently Asked Question
What is wrong with Forced Fetching? For more information on Forced Fetching, please see our article HERE.
What prerequisites does a dog need to know to do learn this retrieve? Sit-Stay and moving into a stationary heel position are the most important. Coming when called helps if the dog needs some coaxing back to you. But if the procedure is followed correctly, come is almost implied … the dog has to come to put the bumper back in your hand, which is what we are training him to do.
It seems like your technique is off in places: slow treat delivery, more than one marker word, etc. Yes, I know. I’m imperfect … especially when moving at such a fast pace with such a high-drive dog. The more perfect you are with your technique and timing, the more quickly the dog will learn. That said, I really believe dogs are more forgiving than we give them credit for sometimes. We’ve trained hundreds of dogs using this method, and I’m not sure I’m ever perfect. So, I’d like to tell all the amateurs out there: work with your dog, stick closely to what I do in the video, and you’ll get it; you don’t have to be perfect.
Is this dog pre-trained? Yes. For the sake of time, we used a dog that was actually trained with this particular method. The goal was simply to demonstrate each step of the process.
What if my dog doesn’t like to grab gloves or other objects? This method works best on dogs who enjoy getting rowdy with you and engaging in interactive place. While I recommend you sticking as closely as possible to the video, other objects that the dog DOES like to grab can be substituted. In the end, I HIGHLY recommend ending up with a plastic bumper. Tennis balls and squeaky toys are not good end-goals hunting retrieve. (Another article for another time.) For less motivated dogs, a clicker-based method may represent a more workable approach to training a retrieve.
How long does each step take? AS LONG AS IT TAKES! Do not rush! We have brought dogs completely through this method in a couple of weeks, but we’ve had other dogs take a month. The important thing is to make sure a dog masters each step before moving on.
How do you deal with various problems along the way? All dogs are different, and there are so many potential problems encountered in ANY retrieving protocol that it is too time consuming to answer them all. Feel free to email us if you need some help.
How do I get from bumpers to birds? First, work your way up to plastic bumpers. From there, you want to repeat the process with frozen birds. From there, you can repeat the process with thawed birds.
I notice you keep saying “good.” Why is that? “Good” is my is a marker word. (Some folks may opt to use a clicker instead, but I personally prefer a verbal marker. I’ll share my reasoning with you someday.) I try to say it the very exact moment the dog does the right thing. This helps the dog understand what it did right, thus making it easier for the dog to repeat the behavior.
I noticed you didn’t punish the dog when it dropped the bumper. Why is that? First, I try to just encourage the dog to do the right thing. The notion that one must punish a dog for every infraction is incorrect and slows down learning by stressing the dog out. If the dog kept making the same mistake, I would have assumed I was moving too quickly and would have gone back to the previous step and worked on helping the dog to better understand what I wanted.
Why did you do Step 7? It doesn’t seem to follow the pattern of an overall retrieve? It is just a quick step to get the dog acquainted with the concept of moving away from you, grabbing the bumper, and then spinning back towards you. You could technically just launch the dog from a heel position and accomplish the same thing. But it wouldn’t look as cool.
When do you wean the dogs from treats? If you have a dog who enjoys playing with you like this, the FetchMasters Positive Trained Retrieve should actually build enough drive that the dog sees retrieving AS self-rewarding. Therefore, you usually can just cease giving treats, and the dog will never stop enjoying retrieving. The dog in this video was only getting treats by way of demonstration. He cares FAR more for the bumper than for treats. With a less motivated dog, you can begin altering the dog’s schedule of reinforcement and ultimately randomizing treats to more-or-less wean the dog from treats.
How do you teach “hold” or “drop?” Now listen closely. This is a subtle but important concept. And though I tried to allude to it in the video, people still have a hard time getting their mind around it (even when I explain it) because it is so different from either clicker-based or forced-fetching methods. Here goes: This routine is all about training the dog to put things in your hand. If he is trying to, or waiting to, put things in your hand … HE IS HOLDING. And if he puts something in your hand when you extend your hand down … HE IS DROPPING. It is an implied hold and drop. If you want to add a hold cue or a drop cue, feel free to insert them at the appropriate places, but I have little need for them with most dogs. If the dog seems unwilling to drop the bumper in your hand, it is because he has not learned the game correctly in the first place.
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