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Old 07-02-2013, 02:32 PM
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JacksonsMom JacksonsMom is offline
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Default Holding an object

How do you go about getting a dog to hold onto an object, for at least 30 seconds?

I've tried over and over again to get Jackson to be able to hold an object and pose with it for a picture, for example, but he just doesn't seem to understand or want to hold anything for longer than like 2 seconds lol.

Example: I want him to hold a mini American Flag thing in his mouth for a 4th of July picture.

I've sat down and tried to train this a lot, but clearly I'm doing something wrong...

The thing is he will hold things voluntarily for a while, like if he's bored and wants my attention, he's been known to go grab a toy (or something he's not supposed to have) and he sits there and stares at me with the object in his mouth until I get up to go get it.

Basically what he does now is I hand it to him, he takes it, and he often turns his head a bit to the side and lifts a paw as if he's concentrating REALLY hard and drops it within like 1-2 seconds haha. I'll try to get a video.

But in the meantime, any tips? Any youtube videos you know of?
Brit & Jackson

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Old 07-02-2013, 03:15 PM
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I'm not sure what other people do, but I am in the process of teaching this to Journey reliably (she can sort of do it, but I need to proof it). I've never taught it successfully before (never stuck to it long enough), but so far I've made good progress with Journey.

I started by clicking and treating every time she picked the object up. Sometimes, to get her interested in an object, I'd move it around so she'd want to chase and grab it. Then I'd click and treat. Then gradually I started increasing the time and would click after a second or two and so on, until she caught on that I wanted her to keep the object in her mouth. I also keep sessions really short, as it seems a rather boring thing for a dog to learn and I know Journ loses interest quickly and does not do well with heavy repetition (or she thinks she's doing something wrong).

I am sure there are way better videos than this, but here is when I first started with Journey just picking it up. No hold yet.

^ She's so young because I started it, got bored, and then just recently decided to continue it and get her a reliable hold. I have no recent video though.
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Old 07-02-2013, 03:21 PM
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I have been trying to teach Crossbone a hold off & on for months. I haven't found a good method for him yet.

My lab mix, Jack, was so easy....I out something in his mouth & told him to stay and that was that!

I'll keep an eye in this thread for better ideas

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Old 07-02-2013, 03:41 PM
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This is my default procedure:

It looks like it takes a while, but it's broken down into microscopic parts for dogs who may not be natural mouthers/retrievers. For dogs who are more naturally adept, you can progress much faster.

If you have a hold already, my guess is that you're trying to increase the amount of time of the hold too quickly, or that you're trying to add distance too early. I'd probably try to proof a confident hold via some oppositional reflex training before adding any true distance, but it depends on the dog.

Looking forward to seeing a video of your process.

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Old 07-02-2013, 04:58 PM
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It took FOREVER for Boo and even now, she only knows how to hold lightweight things while sitting still, not pick them up, retrieve, or move with them. I just got tired of the trick after a while and it's clearly not her cup of tea.

I shaped the entire thing in little tidbits and it took upwards of a year (albeit, I'd probably train a few days in a row, then take 3 weeks off, and so on). Started with clicking her looking at an object, then moving towards it, then touching with with any part of her body, then only a nose, then only teeth, yada yada yada. Fortunately, once she got the idea that it was supposed to go in her mouth, the duration was slightly quicker going. Still a royal pain, but I just clicked for slightly longer and longer durations. A millisecond was fine at first, but soon it was 10 milliseconds. And then a little longer. And then a full second. And then two seconds. If she dropped it before, she wouldn't get the reward.

The biggest issue was that she really doesn't like the command anyway and isn't always super motivated, so if I'd refuse to treat her after two tries or so, she'd stop even offering the behavior at all.

Even now, I constantly have to remind her to "wait!" while she is holding the object or she won't wait for my drop command. I'd say 30 seconds is about the longest she'd hold something at her prime of the trick. I gave up because that was as long as I needed to move away and snap a quick photo and the trick was bothering both of us.

Can you tell it's not her thing!?

Paw tricks or weaving? Boo would like me to tell you that those tricks are much better.

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Old 07-02-2013, 06:44 PM
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I shaped a hold - Kimma understood it pretty well. I have a sequence of videos, followed by a trick video in which you can see her retrieve a few different items that I just randomly threw at her that moment (I didn't practice with any of them):


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Old 07-04-2013, 07:39 PM
AmberH AmberH is offline
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For Bayleigh, I clicked every time she picked something up. And then I waited longer and longer each time to click so she'd hold the object longer. I was just kind of messing around and she finally got it.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:52 PM
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Well tonight I put a flag in his mouth, held it shut for a few seconds and told him to stay and we got a 15 sec hold!

LOL. A fluke, but I'm hoping we can build off of that. I've been trying to shape a hold and he won't sit and hold something in his mouth EVER. He likes to shake, back up, chew and tug all things all the time. I tried using the most boring object ever and it was still way too much fun.

Jack is soooooo awesome at holding things, I've taken it for granted. I don't think I'll EVER get a picture like this of Crossbone


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Old 07-04-2013, 07:54 PM
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I, on the other hand, demonstrated that I can do it


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Old 07-04-2013, 08:20 PM
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I will do a combination of shaping a fetch and then help holds by holding the mouth if they have a loose hold. If they can hold tight for a second longer I take and reward heavily.
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