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Greetings,

I have been working with my BC, who is an excellent retriever, to prepare her for fetching game. I have been reading about training techniques used on bird dogs and I have come across something called "Force Fetch" training. I have read just a little about it, and I don't think it sounds like a good dog training technique. I was wondering if anyone in the flyball arena has used this method before, and what they thought about it.

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I can see how it could be useful in training a hunting dog, but I don't think it's necessary for most Border Collies. Even Mick, who has a crappy recall, will fetch for hours (if I let him) and has an excellent drop it command.

 

Sinead also loves fetching, but she's a big fan of bringing it back and NOT wanting to let go. For her, grabbing hold of something is THE BESTEST THING EVER. She will happily hang on a spring pole until she can't do it anymore, or play a game of tug that seemingly never ends (including swinging her around completely off the ground). However, she's a pit bull, she's bred to grab hold of something and not let go. In her case, I resort to pinching her flanks to get her to learn "drop it."

 

In Mick's case, the running and retrieval of the toy is his reward. But Border Collies are hell of a lot different than a pit bull. I think Force Fetching would be entirely unnecessary for a Border Collie.

 

Disclaimer: I know nothing about flyball. I just have a tennis ball/frisbee obsessed Mick.

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The technique of force fetching, I was reading, involved a lot of pressure, pinching, and pulling on the dog combined with praise. The author said, " the dog fetches because it must...". I guess, maybe because I have not worked with hunting breeds much, why it would be necessary to use both aversive and appetitive stimuli to train the dog.

 

Example: The book I was reading said to start by applying pressure to the dog's lower lip, so the lip is pushing against its teeth, until it opens its mouth. When the dog opens its mouth, shove the dummy in. After doing that a few times, don't let the dog drop the dummy. Apply pressure on the mouth, or via a choke collar, and release when the dog decides to continue to hold the dummy rather than drop it. Praise the dog whenever it does the right thing.

 

It seems to me, that that is a very slow way to train a dog to fetch. I also think it would be very easy to mess up. I agree that BCs probably dont lend themselves to force fetching. Is there a reason hunting dogs do better, or is this an old school training method that is on its way out?

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The technique of force fetching, I was reading, involved a lot of pressure, pinching, and pulling on the dog combined with praise. The author said, " the dog fetches because it must...". I guess, maybe because I have not worked with hunting breeds much, why it would be necessary to use both aversive and appetitive stimuli to train the dog.

 

Example: The book I was reading said to start by applying pressure to the dog's lower lip, so the lip is pushing against its teeth, until it opens its mouth. When the dog opens its mouth, shove the dummy in. After doing that a few times, don't let the dog drop the dummy. Apply pressure on the mouth, or via a choke collar, and release when the dog decides to continue to hold the dummy rather than drop it. Praise the dog whenever it does the right thing.

 

It seems to me, that that is a very slow way to train a dog to fetch. I also think it would be very easy to mess up. I agree that BCs probably dont lend themselves to force fetching. Is there a reason hunting dogs do better, or is this an old school training method that is on its way out?

 

Well, my personal opinion of retrievers is that they're not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box, so that's why I could see how it works.

 

Every dog I've ever had in my life (Border Collies, GSDs, GSD/Pit Bull Mix, Pit Bull) seemed to figure out the basic concept of fetch. I just expect them to hand it to me when I say "drop it." Mick will generally hand it to me and already be running back out without me saying anything.

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Its not that hard to train a retrieve without discomfort. Are you talking about training a Border Collie and what kind of fetching are you planning on doing?

 

I'm taking up hunting, specifically upland game, and I have no room for another dog. My BC lives to retrieve anything I ask her to. So I figured, why not? Currently I can toss a scented dummy in tall grass, fire a pop gun, and she can find it. I'm working on hand signals and stepping up to a real gun, and using bird wings, after a few more sessions. I was just curious what other dog folk thought about force fetching; its quite a popular method on the gun dog forums.

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I suspect that you will find people with many different POV. I myself will never again teach a force fetch (I did it once with my 1st dog) because its SO much easier and more fun with a clicker. There's those here who would never touch one of those things. ;) But then they were not fetching live birds, only dumbells and gloves.

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I suspect that you will find people with many different POV. I myself will never again teach a force fetch (I did it once with my 1st dog) because its SO much easier and more fun with a clicker. There's those here who would never touch one of those things. ;) But then they were not fetching live birds, only dumbells and gloves.

 

I actually found my clicker in a box of random stuff the other day. It's still there. LOL

 

But, yeah, for Mick fetching is the BESTEST thing ever short of sheep, so he never really needed any motivation. Even the farmer who was fostering him, said when I got him (at 5 months) that he didn't care much about food, but he was really into his frisbee. That was an understatement.

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Makes sense. Different strokes for different folks.

 

One of the interesting things I was reading about in my book, and on the gun dog forums, is that some folks teach their dog to retrieve naturally. Heck, I know lots of labs that just retrieve without any special training. Afterward, however, the retrain their dog with the force fetch method so the dog is more "reliable". Force fetching, to me, seems very similar to the initial stages of horse training...the animal complies to avoid mildly unpleasant stimulation. I was brought up in the school of thought that that kind of training was slow and somewhat ineffective when training something like sit, stay, down, or in this case, retrieve. I'm happy to read what you guys have had to say; I like learning about different methods of dog training.

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I honestly do not see how forcing a dog to fetch would even work in the first place. I know if I did that to my dogs they would never think it is fun which defeats the purpose. I would purely use a clicker (as it is my fav method) and shape them to retrieve any object then add a cue and use that cue on live game. There would be a brief confusion period I'm assuming but that wouldn't last long with practice.

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Afterward, however, the retrain their dog with the force fetch method so the dog is more "reliable".

 

Yes, this is the reason often given, because theoretically a dog trained by force will have no choice. I say BS, of course, because there is no inherent reason a dog working to avoid a correction will be more reliable than a dog working for reward.

 

I will say I have never trained a dog to retrieve a bird, and I understand the hunting world has been slow to embrace more motivational techniques. If I owned a retriever I would sure work with my dogs natural instincts and forgo a forced method, myself...but that's just me.

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Makes sense. Different strokes for different folks.

 

One of the interesting things I was reading about in my book, and on the gun dog forums, is that some folks teach their dog to retrieve naturally. Heck, I know lots of labs that just retrieve without any special training. Afterward, however, the retrain their dog with the force fetch method so the dog is more "reliable". Force fetching, to me, seems very similar to the initial stages of horse training...the animal complies to avoid mildly unpleasant stimulation. I was brought up in the school of thought that that kind of training was slow and somewhat ineffective when training something like sit, stay, down, or in this case, retrieve. I'm happy to read what you guys have had to say; I like learning about different methods of dog training.

 

Yes, the forced retrieve works through positive punishment and negative reinforcement (not that I would teach a retrieve that way).

 

A trained retrieve is different than a play retrieve, so I do think it's worth looking into how to train it since you have a specific task like field retrieving in mind.

 

If you're curious about teaching field retrieving with reward-based methods, you might check out a Yahoo discussion group for that: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/PositiveGunDogs/

 

B.

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Force retrieve has it's place. A gun dog can be disqualified if it brings the bird back and does not deliver to "hand". The fetch is not just getting the object, it's also returning it in a specific manner. A properly taught FR is reliable and you also have a built in correction (OMG a 4 letter word here!) for when they are wrong. I've done some bird work with one of my BC's, he had a blast and could run with the big dogs per se...until it came to a picking up the dead bird, NO WAY, no how was he going to do it. Fine with me since we were just playing, he would go for dummies all day long in the field, pop guns, water and all! Good luck, it's a blast!

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I have always wondered why, if gun dogs were bred to perform a specific task (ie retrieve game) it has to be taught to them through pain-based methods like ear pinches. I've a friend who raises hunting dogs and has also wondered that herself, as she has trained both with forced retrieves, and with clickers, and has had equal success with both methods, though on balance, the clicker trained dogs are more enthusiastic about their job it seems.

 

This woman has a

on clicker training bird dogs to retrieve to hand without force. Seems like it would be worth a shot.

 

One of my adopters - my very first one actually - taught her border collie to retrieve as her husband is an avid hunter. No force methods required, because the dog was so keen to learn and perform. In his younger years, he could out-retrieve any gun dog and the husband's pals stopped laughing at the "border collie bird dog" real quick!

 

I'm still looking for a video to help me not throttle TWooie if he doesn't leave my damn chickens alone though ;-)

 

RDM

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force fetching is used to certain breeds of hunting dogs, and its used AFTER the dog has been taught to retrieve normally, its a proofing methode use to teach a hunting dog to ALWAYS react, by use a applied pressure while the dog is not preforming, and active pleasure when the dog is preforming, its creates a strong drive to go without hesitation. this is a methode used on hunting dogs of certian breeds only, although some people do use it for other's, its really best left to the breeds and use it was designed for.

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This just simply isn't true....

 

A "controlled" fetch is required in a couple disciplines most notably obedience and field trials...I know many a dog besides hunting breeds that were taught succesfuly to retrieve, despite having no want or need to using a combination of positive/negative approaches...including..the dreaded EAR PINCH method...Again...applying any of these methods CORRECTLY is the key...I wouldn't recomend anyone using some of the "forced fetching" methods without someone experienced in teaching this...timing is everything....

 

I am not super familiar with field trials but know that, like in obedience trials, with hunting the actual HOLDING of the object is key and often requires a bit of persuation...So I don't necessarily think it's the actual retrieving that needs most of the training but the actual HOLD. My dogs were taught a "take it" "hold" and "out" and taught to retrieve a variety of objects. I didn't follow a "forced fetch" method to a T..but I did use a correction if they did not hold the object until the were told to let go. This would mean..dog sitting in heel..me tugging on the object..the dog did not let go until he heard the release command...I have also seen MANY a hunter and obedience trainer use similar methods in training there dogs with similar results...The dog has to understand whats expected clearly...

 

My dogs know the difference between "play fetch" and "work fetch"...they know when they are working....and the two ways are trained entirely differently..

 

Planning on taking both my bc's hunting time this fall ;)They love it!!

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And most controlled retrieves are NOT taught after the dog has been taught a "natural retrieve"...I start all my young ones out on a dumb bell. Sitting on the couch or a chair...we practice "take it", "hold" and "out" over and over and over... add the compusion and fun to it when they understand what is expected....

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This is interesting, I have been wondering what I can do to train Brody to become a quasi bird dog, my husband likes to hunt pheasant and he always takes Brody with him to help flush. Just by being a dog he can flush but that is the end of his current skill. As we will always have Border Collies and not a specialized hunting dog I would love to here others experiences on cross-training a border collie to hunt.

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Planning on taking both my bc's hunting time this fall ;)They love it!!

 

That's exciting! I was wondering if, using BCs, you had to be a little more patient when training them to scent dummies/bird wings? Also, do you ever use them for flushing?

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I have always wondered why, if gun dogs were bred to perform a specific task (ie retrieve game) it has to be taught to them through pain-based methods like ear pinches. I've a friend who raises hunting dogs and has also wondered that herself, as she has trained both with forced retrieves, and with clickers, and has had equal success with both methods, though on balance, the clicker trained dogs are more enthusiastic about their job it seems.

As I was reading this thread, this was my exact thought. If retrievers were bred to retrieve then it seems to me that there would be the basic instinct there that could just be built on (sort of like stock work). If retrieving dogs require force-based methods to get them to do something they should do naturally, then it says something to me about the breeding programs that produced those dogs, and that something isn't complimentary. I've never had to use force-based methods to teach either hold it or drop it, so I'm not getting that either (and people who know me from this forum know that I am not a reward-based-only trainer by any means).

 

Cyberdog,

Would you consider training directions on your dog through the use of whistles or voice commands rather than hand signals? I ask this because I have a good friend who recently went to a retriever field trial and she was confounded by the dogs having to turn back to look at the handler to recieve hand signals when it seemed to her that it would have been more efficient for the handler to have just whistled directional commands so that the dog could remain focused on finding the bird/dummy and not have to look back at the handler constantly. Just a thought, but if I were going to train a dog to retrieve game, I would probably try to do it that way.

 

J.

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I am a little more patient cause they DID NOT like the taste of a nasty frozen bird wing in there mouth....But I still applied my basic "take it" "hold" "out" commands...I always take it back to the beginning when teaching to retrieve something new. Sitting on a chair, going through the motions..extending the time they are asked to hold it..then NOT letting them release the object until I give the release command. This means tuggin on the wing and playing with it but NOT letting them release it until told...like I said the actuall HOLD is key!!!

 

I also taught a "find it" command pretty early on and practiced that ALOT...as I think there breed obviously puts them at a BIT of a disadvantage to the hunting breeds...so we work extra hard to tune those noses ;)

 

We also practice our good ol directional retireves, etc..

 

We have gone duck AND pheasant hunting...once they got the idea my dogs LOVE it!! They live to work and LOVE competing with the other dogs...

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I think like anything..all dogs are different...I train and trial my dogs primarily for stock work..Certain methods work better for certain dogs..I am sure althought the drive to retrieve(from what I have seen) is STRONG in a hunting dog..like an enthusiastic young alligator border collie...the behavior needs to be shaped to form a polished picture..And extremely talented youngster on stock(much like mine)..allowed to grip is never going to let his true talent shine through without some proper....convincing. I have seen MANY a talented young retrieving dog want to EAT birds or NOT bring the birds back in a manner condusive to the task at hand...

 

Like I said with the hunting bred dogs I have seen..the desire to retrieve isn't the problem..its the holding the bird..learning self control..those sort of things...all which needs to be implemented with consistent sometimes FRIM handling..DEPENDING on the dog...

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Cyberdog,

Would you consider training directions on your dog through the use of whistles or voice commands rather than hand signals? I ask this because I have a good friend who recently went to a retriever field trial and she was confounded by the dogs having to turn back to look at the handler to recieve hand signals when it seemed to her that it would have been more efficient for the handler to have just whistled directional commands so that the dog could remain focused on finding the bird/dummy and not have to look back at the handler constantly. Just a thought, but if I were going to train a dog to retrieve game, I would probably try to do it that way.

 

J.

 

I've thought about this too. I agree with you. I figured, BCs are traditionally trained with whistle commands anyway, right? I haven't used a whistle to train more than a couple commands. I'm not sure how to go about it, so, I'm using verbal commands and hand signals for now.

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Greetings,

I have been working with my BC, who is an excellent retriever, to prepare her for fetching game. I have been reading about training techniques used on bird dogs and I have come across something called "Force Fetch" training. I have read just a little about it, and I don't think it sounds like a good dog training technique. I was wondering if anyone in the flyball arena has used this method before, and what they thought about it.

 

 

The only time I've seen the Forced retrieve used is in Obedience & in Field Trial dogs. I have no strong desire to do either one so I have never really used a forced retrieve. Certainly not for a BC & not for flyball.

 

The way I've seen it- the dog's ear is pinched (the stiffer cartilage fold near the skull vs the floppy pinna part) until it vocalizes (screams) and then the article is simultaneously stuffed in the dog's mouth as the pinch is stopped. Creating the association of the cessation of pain with the article in the mouth. This is also accomplished with an e-collar (shock) using continuous low level "stimulation" until the article is placed in the mouth.

 

This creates an obsessive desire to hold on to (theoretically) avoid the correction. Lots of folks "need" this to be sure the dog will perform the hold no matter what. I have been told that in order to participate at the higher levels dogs (retrievers) must be trained using the e-collar. It requires a lot of skill to not create a negative association with the article or the handler. This is not an exercise for the novice for sure.

 

For flyball, you do not want a ball obsessed dog. That creates strong drive to the box but possibly slows the return because the dog doesn't want to give up "my precious" <said in my best Gollum/Smeagol voice> or in the event of a rerun your dog needs to spit & go- not wrestle around with the ball at the end of the lane.

 

Personally I don't think you need a forced retrieve with a Border Collie at all. They are extremely biddable & really only want to please. If you can make the job clear they are more than willing. I can sometimes understand why one may be needed with reteivers but not BC's.

 

HTH,

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