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Old 10-25-2010, 12:56 PM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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Default Training a dog to pick up an object

Particularly when the dog has little to no toy drive....

I'm having two different problems with my two. First I'll look at Summer.

I decided to break it up into steps for her. Summer is a dog that the idea that you can pick up an object and make it fun is a foreign concept that has never crossed her mind... So I thought first I will teach her to mouth an object, then I will teach her to hold an object. Then I will teach her to pick up an object off the floor. Then I will teach her to go retrieve an object i've thrown. So I chose a nylabone for the object for the time being. I wold hold it about mouth level for Summer and click when she'd lean in to sniff it. Gradually I phased it to where I would click if she mouthed it, then if the whole thing was in her mouth. So now I've got her reliably putting her mouth around the object. But I am stumped on how to train the and 'hold it' part. She will spit the nylabone out immediately. I've tried clicking for ones where she hesitates slightly before spitting it out, but it doesn't seem to get us consistently anywhere. She will usually revert back to "Oh no, I don't know what I'm doing..." and sniff at it or paw at it instead of biting it. Is there a better way to break this up and teach it? How do you get a dog to realize they should keep ahold of the object you're handing them?

Then Mia... this is one of those unusual cases where Mia is easier than summer. Mia's response to an object is to put it in her mouth and carry it around naturally. The problem I'm having is if I ask her to pick an item up off the floor, she does... then she proceeds to tear the crap out of it. How do you teach the dog to pick something up and hold it without them trying to shred it immediately? I also don't want to squash her toy drive either though.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:48 PM
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CharlieDog CharlieDog is offline
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Hmmm. There are two really really good threads about this, one was started by Sis Morphine, and the other by me about Enzo.

But basically, I'm having the same problem with Enzo as you are with Summer. Lizzybeth has some excellent advice on the subject, and I've just reverted to clicking for putting her mouth on it, clicking for lifting her head while holding the object firmly, but I'm not asking her to hold it at all.

Then I started varying the height of the object so that sometimes it's almost just sitting on the floor (I'm still holding it though) and clicking for putting her mouth on it and Enzo wants to pick it up before she spits it out, so I click RIGHT before she hits that apex and spits it out, so that she's getting the click for bringing the treat up.

Enzo is still not understanding hold it, but that's okay, because I was told in my thread that that's normal and it can take a while before the dog understands the concept of "I want you to hold this, not pick it up and spit it out"

Also, there are two really really good videos on youtube about clicker training the retrieve, and they (part 1 and 2) both have really good information about clicking the steps of the retrieve. My only problem with them is that they don't really give a good time frame for how soon to move on to the next step, though it is dog dependent.

Here are the links to the other two threads, there's some really good reading.

http://www.chazhound.com/forums/t122535/

http://www.chazhound.com/forums/t122365/
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:10 PM
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I'm training this with Ruby right now - the queen of all non toy drive.

I've been working on her "take it" - like Summer, she'll take it and try and spit it out. So what I've done to teach the "hold" is to hold the dumbbell an inch or so in front of her mouth, tell her to "take it", and then when she closes her mouth on it, (I've been training her with the clicker on a "close your mouth" already) I've been slowly clicking her for longer durations after her mouth has shut.

I haven't let go of the dumbbell yet - I don't want to give her the option to drop it.

It's been working so far! I hope that helps. I'm no clicker queen of training either - this is my first attempt at training something with a clicker - but that's been working for us.

I haven't gotten to the retrieve part yet - we are still working on the whole "dumbbells are so rewarding I want it at all times" part.

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Old 10-25-2010, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
I decided to break it up into steps for her. Summer is a dog that the idea that you can pick up an object and make it fun is a foreign concept that has never crossed her mind... So I thought first I will teach her to mouth an object, then I will teach her to hold an object. Then I will teach her to pick up an object off the floor. Then I will teach her to go retrieve an object i've thrown. So I chose a nylabone for the object for the time being. I wold hold it about mouth level for Summer and click when she'd lean in to sniff it. Gradually I phased it to where I would click if she mouthed it, then if the whole thing was in her mouth. So now I've got her reliably putting her mouth around the object. But I am stumped on how to train the and 'hold it' part. She will spit the nylabone out immediately. I've tried clicking for ones where she hesitates slightly before spitting it out, but it doesn't seem to get us consistently anywhere. She will usually revert back to "Oh no, I don't know what I'm doing..." and sniff at it or paw at it instead of biting it. Is there a better way to break this up and teach it? How do you get a dog to realize they should keep ahold of the object you're handing them?
You have a great training plan, I think if you stick with it and give it more time it'll work... so don't get discouraged and throw out the whole plan!

When I teach retrieve, I teach them to put their mouth on the dumbbell first, like you've done with Summer. Like noodle said, I don't let go of the dumbbell until the dog is keeping her mouth on it for about a 1/2 second duration. It may not sound long, but it is. And it doesn't take all that long to train, if you don't let go of the dumbbell yourself.

Once you have that, you can start working on the hold - where the dog holds the dumbbell without your hand on it. So hand it to the dog, let go just for a split second, and click right when you let go... Then (this is very important!) grab the dumbbell from the dog before she drops it. It's all very fast and you have to have your coordination just right in order to click at the right time, so you might want to practice a few times without Summer. Once you've got this, just start letting go of the DB for longer durations and continue building the hold that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
Then Mia... this is one of those unusual cases where Mia is easier than summer. Mia's response to an object is to put it in her mouth and carry it around naturally. The problem I'm having is if I ask her to pick an item up off the floor, she does... then she proceeds to tear the crap out of it. How do you teach the dog to pick something up and hold it without them trying to shred it immediately? I also don't want to squash her toy drive either though.
I've taught retrieve to dogs who are EXTREMELY toy-driven, too, and I teach it exactly the same way as I teach dogs who don't care about toys. The trouble is that if you want a polished-looking retrieve, you will have to be very systematic about teaching it. Otherwise, you'll get extraneous play-behaviors like tearing, chewing, shaking, etc.

You'll probably have to work a lot with Mia on giving the item back to you. I'd start this from the beginning, letting her take it for SHORT periods before clicking the hold and taking it back. Basically you want to teach her to take it and hold it while standing still. Once she's got that, the "give" will be much easier.

I wouldn't worry about squashing her toy drive. Like I said, I've done this with several dogs like Mia and [unfortunately for service dogs], they have just the same toy drive afterwards as they do before.
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