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Old 12-17-2010, 02:04 PM
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Default Retrieves

I'm rethinking the idea of trying to train Tyr for service work, and one of the biggest things I'd need him to do is retrieves.

Which is also one of the reasons he didn't work out previously as a SD, but the other reason was that he was uncomfortable in places like stores, and that's changed enough to retry the retrieve training.

He can retrieve a dumbbell with no problems. But that's it. For example, I once asked him to retrieve an old cell phone. He picked it up, he brought it to me and right before giving it to me, he closed down on it just a little more and put a crack through the middle of it. I also once asked him to retrieve a book, which he did, after ripping the cover off it. *sigh* He just seems to think retrieve is a fun game and anything he's asked to retrieve should be able to be enjoyed. Which I think has something to do with how I originally trained the retrieves...

So what's the best way to retrain this without him destroying everything I ask him to pick up? I've done a lot of take stuff from my hand retrieve basics, and that works and doesn't trigger the destructive playfulness. But as soon as I try putting it on the floor, he thinks it's a toy.
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Old 12-19-2010, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by corgipower View Post
He just seems to think retrieve is a fun game and anything he's asked to retrieve should be able to be enjoyed. Which I think has something to do with how I originally trained the retrieves...
I don't know how you originally trained the retrieves, so I'm not criticizing you or anything.... But a LOT of people think you should start training retrieves using toys and other play-type situations. This is a good way to teach your dog to play fetch, but it's not a good way to teach a formal, service dog retrieve.

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Originally Posted by corgipower View Post
So what's the best way to retrain this without him destroying everything I ask him to pick up? I've done a lot of take stuff from my hand retrieve basics, and that works and doesn't trigger the destructive playfulness. But as soon as I try putting it on the floor, he thinks it's a toy.
Keep working on getting him to take stuff from your hand, do that a LOT to repattern him to the correct behavior. Then gradually get him to retrieve it from your hand, moving it lower and lower until it's finally on the floor. If he starts chewing or any other innappropriate behaviors, then immediately interrupt the chewing - take the object away - and give a time out.... the chewing is self-reinforcing, and allowing him to do it just reinforces it.
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Old 12-19-2010, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by lizzybeth727 View Post
I don't know how you originally trained the retrieves, so I'm not criticizing you or anything.... But a LOT of people think you should start training retrieves using toys and other play-type situations. This is a good way to teach your dog to play fetch, but it's not a good way to teach a formal, service dog retrieve.
SD was kinda a later thought as my health issues worsened. The retrieve was formal and trained with backchaining, but also with some playing with the retrieve article because he was too stressed over being asked to maintain a hold otherwise. Worked fine when all we were thinking of is a competition retrieve, but yeah, there are some problems with doing it that way.

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Keep working on getting him to take stuff from your hand, do that a LOT to repattern him to the correct behavior. Then gradually get him to retrieve it from your hand, moving it lower and lower until it's finally on the floor. If he starts chewing or any other innappropriate behaviors, then immediately interrupt the chewing - take the object away - and give a time out.... the chewing is self-reinforcing, and allowing him to do it just reinforces it.
I can do that. It's pretty much what I was thinking.
Do you think it's doable or should I just wait until I'm able to get a new dog in a few years?
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Old 12-19-2010, 07:53 AM
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This is kind of unconventional, and I normally would never recommend this, but I'm guessing based on the fact that you actually know how to train a retrieve and a SD that you are not a newbie owner and this ain't your first rodeo

I agree with repetition, redirecting when the "hold" is too hard, but I would also add outside the retrieve training, some "mouth" games. Some dogs - especially those with thicker fur, tend to have harder mouths because of having furrier littermates with a higher pressure tolerance. (Of course some dogs don't learn proper bite inhibition for environmental reasons and have hard mouths too.)
Will this dog play wrestle with you? Will he mouth you? If so, try and encourage that, and then with YOUR hand in his mouth in play (while amped), teach him a soft mouth - same way you would a puppy, by saying "ow" and if need be, stopping the play momentarily until he calms down a notch.
If he won't bite you, try tricking him in to it by disguising your hand under a glove or sleeve pulled down and do the same thing. Basically you're teaching him self-control and how to keep a soft mouth even when amped up and excited, a skill that will transfer to other areas - like an object retrieve.

Don't worry that you're teaching a bad habit - he's only mouthing when INVITED to. In nearly 40 years of allowing mouthing with multiple dogs, we've never had a dog confuse when its allowed and when its not. But again, unless you are already somewhat dog-savvy, and have a good relationship with your dog, this is not the route to go.
HTH
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Danefied View Post
Will this dog play wrestle with you? Will he mouth you? If so, try and encourage that, and then with YOUR hand in his mouth in play (while amped), teach him a soft mouth - same way you would a puppy, by saying "ow" and if need be, stopping the play momentarily until he calms down a notch.
If he won't bite you, try tricking him in to it by disguising your hand under a glove or sleeve pulled down and do the same thing. Basically you're teaching him self-control and how to keep a soft mouth even when amped up and excited, a skill that will transfer to other areas - like an object retrieve.

Don't worry that you're teaching a bad habit - he's only mouthing when INVITED to. In nearly 40 years of allowing mouthing with multiple dogs, we've never had a dog confuse when its allowed and when its not. But again, unless you are already somewhat dog-savvy, and have a good relationship with your dog, this is not the route to go.
HTH
Not such a great idea with this dog...

He's a malinois, and kinda hardwired to bite hard.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by corgipower View Post
Not such a great idea with this dog...

He's a malinois, and kinda hardwired to bite hard.
All the more reason to teach him how to use his mouth appropriately in specific situations. As I'm sure you know, malinois are SUPER trainable, its no accident that many of them do make fantastic service dogs

Might be worth it too to contact a SD organization or a retriever trainer and asking them about methods they use to teach a soft mouth if you prefer not to use your own flesh as a the test dummy
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:10 AM
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if you prefer not to use your own flesh as a the test dummy
Yep, I'd say that about sums it up. And what hurts me might actually be a soft(ish) mouth. It doesn't take much...

He does have decent inhibition...considering how little damage he inflicted when his foot was caught and twisted and he was in full blown panic, screaming and pooping, and he clamped down on my finger when I went to try to help, and didn't do anything more than a scratch.
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:29 AM
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Yep, I'd say that about sums it up.
Wuss

Do you have a significant other? I find mine makes a good crash-test-dummy... Got to put them to work somehow ya know

Okay, seriously....
Ian Dunbar has some good stuff on teaching a soft mouth, you can use a soft toy, but my preference is really a human's body part because stuffies can't feel the subtle difference in force and say "ow" at just the right time.

The other problem is, if this is a SchH dog or protection trained in any way, teaching a soft mouth may un-do the kind of holds you need on the SchH field.
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:30 AM
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I have nooo idea if this works, but this was suggested to a friend of mine. Start teaching hold on things like a thin rope or a copper wire. Things that are easier to hold when the dog doesn't clamp down.
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:43 AM
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Wuss

Keep in mind, there's a reason I need a SD in the first place...all that pain I feel when he grazes me runs from my arm through my entire body and lasts for three days...And that's just one of the many issues.


Quote:
Do you have a significant other? I find mine makes a good crash-test-dummy... Got to put them to work somehow ya know



Quote:
Ian Dunbar has some good stuff on teaching a soft mouth, you can use a soft toy, but my preference is really a human's body part because stuffies can't feel the subtle difference in force and say "ow" at just the right time.
I've talked to some lab trainers on how they train a soft mouth...but then again, they're working with a breed that's bred for a soft mouth to begin with.

Quote:
The other problem is, if this is a SchH dog or protection trained in any way, teaching a soft mouth may un-do the kind of holds you need on the SchH field.
I had hoped to compete in Sch with him, but at this point, I'm not holding out for that to happen.

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I have nooo idea if this works, but this was suggested to a friend of mine. Start teaching hold on things like a thin rope or a copper wire. Things that are easier to hold when the dog doesn't clamp down.
Interesting idea.
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