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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.

 

The forced retrieve is still pretty popular in the obedience world, I believe. Like others have said, people feel it will teach the dog there is no choice. I've seen the ear pinch done in a very calm, non-traumatic manner to be a form of communication that means one thing only, "take it." Others are much harsher with the method. I've seen force trained dogs that were happy retrievers. Some that enjoyed it, though they looked anxious when running into problems with the exercise. I've also seen force trained dogs that clearly dreaded retrieving, like the sheltie that slunk out to get the dumbbell, then slunk back, looking miserable the entire time. I always felt a little nauseated watching him in class. And I've seen people misuse ear pinches to the point of mistreatment and bad "training," such as pinching a dog's ear all the way to the dumbbell while the dog screamed because the trainer became frustrated. One of my friends adopted a dog that screamed at the slightest touch of her ears as you were casually petting her. She had been owned by a serious obedience competitor and the dog may have just had sensitive ears, I'd bet the previous owner used the ear pinch to correct more than just refusing or being slow to retrieve. Especially since the vet found nothing wrong with the dog's ears and the screaming reaction faded with time.

 

I did a forced retrieve with my first obedience dog under a trainer's instruction but didn't do an ear pinch, rather using collar corrections. Looking back, I totally don't think it was needed and fortunately my dog didn't struggle, quickly figured out what I was wanting (which he was happy to do anyway) and we went back to having fun. I personally wouldn't do a force fetch these days but I think there is a wide variation in the types of forced fetch training out there.

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A lady on my flyball club who does competition obedience believes in the forced retrieve including the ear pinch. I do not believe in it but as long as the negative does not happen in flyball training/practice I don't say much. The problem with forced retrieve for obedience training is that once you go into another venue like flyball, the dog must continue the proper retrieve otherwise it can cause problems in the obedience ring.

 

I recently had to tell this team member that she must watch doing ear pinching at practice with her border collie that is in training for flyball. He is an obedience dog and in flyball he blows off the ball at times. A couple weeks ago he was blowing off the ball so she did a forced retrieve with ear pinch which made him scream. After practice was over I had to tell her she can't do that again. Yes the dog will scream if you look at him sideways but negative treatment over a ball is not acceptable in flyball practice. I understand why she did it but did not agree with it. Her fear is him blowing off his retrieve in the obedience ring if he starts blowing it off in flyball practice.

 

Come to find out she was quite upset over my saying she cannot do the forced retrieve/ear pinch during practice and supposedly is threatening to leave the team. If she decides to quit then we will miss her and her dogs but I can't let her do something that the club as a whole does not agree with.

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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.

 

And they also wrap the bumpers with barb wire and put pins in tennis balls to teach the dogs to have a soft mouth. Yes the is still going on for those that think I have lost my mind.

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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).

 

Julie raises a good point. There was an article on force training a retrieve in one of the most recent issues of American Hunter magazine. One issue they commented on is that some lines of bird dogs (I think they referenced some pointers and setters) have little fetch actually bred into them at this point which I thought was interesting. They weren't clear as to whether breeders were breeding more for conformation or for other parts of the hunting picture (scent work or pointing?).

 

I don't have the magazine in front of me but I always find their training articles interesting from a slightly voyeuristic perspective. (Ie., another article advocated training a puppy to crate up by setting his shock collar on a low stimulation setting and ending the stimulation when the handler put the puppy in the crate.)

 

They also said that force fetching was used after a lot of play fetching to build drive. The force fetch was then used to teach the dogs that the fetch wasn't optional.

 

I'm personally not keen on the idea of force fetching but also think its important to remember that bird dogs have to a large extent been bred to tolerate the sort of training methods that most bird dog trainers use. Just because someone uses it successfully on a setter or lab doesn't mean that a border collie or cattledog would respond as well to that training technique. I think shock collars and force fetching are two examples of common training techniques that are not necessary and frequently counter productive for more sensitive dogs.

 

Lisa

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And they also wrap the bumpers with barb wire and put pins in tennis balls to teach the dogs to have a soft mouth. Yes the is still going on for those that think I have lost my mind.

And again this makes me wonder what the heck they're breeding for (characteristics) if the dogs have to be forced to retrieve and forced to have soft mouths. WTF? (That's a rhetorical question I guess, but to me it would be like breeding the gathering instinct out of a border collie and then coming up with some sort of force method to make the now non-gathering type dogs go gather stock. The thought makes my head spin.)

 

J.

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Surely Rave, with your vast experience in training a reliable retrieve for hunting work/field trial or obedience yu could explain how it should be done???

 

I don't use a forced retrieve as described in the book...as always I believe an "in the middle" type approach works best depending on the dog...A proper hold taught with praise/treats followed up by a correction if needed when the dog understands what it's being corrected for...the most corrections my dogs get is there mouth manually opened by me...object put inside..hold mouth shut while praising..break and play..

 

I would say if the person needed to resort to putting an e collar on a border collie to get it to retrieve properly...well maybe they should move onto either another dog or another activity...as for hunting breeds...most i've seen could be hit over the head with a 2x4 and not bat and eye...

 

....I do know people who have used the ear pinch on there border collies to teach the retrieve and the dogs are excellent enthusiastic reliable retrievers..have also seen it done improperly and ruined the dog..

 

 

 

...On another note..it is interesting...there is a man who puts on herding clinics and clinics for field trials....using the same methods..pressure and release..making the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy..

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Like most negative training methods, using forced retrieves shows ignorance in how to actually train a proper retrieve.

 

Hi,

 

How interesting...Just this past weekend I received comments about what fun my 11 year old, force trained border collie was having in the Utility ring. After all these years he still has a fast, clean pick up and LOVES to retrieve. I guess he doesn't know he doesn't have a proper retrieve-LOL...

 

 

 

Janet

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Well, at the risk of sounding like the reward-only trainers on this forum, :lol: I have to wonder why one would choose to inflict pain as a training method if there are other pain-free methods that would also work. Any dog trained that way could certainly be happy in the end, once the force-based training is not longer being applied, but seriously (and this is an honest question), why would someone want to deliberately inflict pain if it can be avoided? It just strikes me as once again being about human ego and not the welfare of the animal in question, and this goes for the training of other species as well.

 

J.

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Like most negative training methods, using forced retrieves shows ignorance in how to actually train a proper retrieve.

 

Wow, how enlightening. Can you expand upon how ignorant these people are? Or what people are you speaking of? Surely you need to speak to some of the top handlers, sheep dog trainers that is, about their ignorance by using negative methods.

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Well, at the risk of sounding like the reward-only trainers on this forum, :lol: I have to wonder why one would choose to inflict pain as a training method if there are other pain-free methods that would also work. Any dog trained that way could certainly be happy in the end, once the force-based training is not longer being applied, but seriously (and this is an honest question), why would someone want to deliberately inflict pain if it can be avoided? It just strikes me as once again being about human ego and not the welfare of the animal in question, and this goes for the training of other species as well.

 

This is what I'm wondering too. Is it speed of results perhaps? An acquaintance was the first in her training club to successfully train a fetch without the ear pinch. She doesn't strike me as a brilliant trainer, but her lab was from serious working lines - which goes back to the question of why aren't retrieving dogs bred for performance (fetch/soft mouth).

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Well, at the risk of sounding like the reward-only trainers on this forum, :lol: I have to wonder why one would choose to inflict pain as a training method if there are other pain-free methods that would also work. Any dog trained that way could certainly be happy in the end, once the force-based training is not longer being applied, but seriously (and this is an honest question), why would someone want to deliberately inflict pain if it can be avoided? It just strikes me as once again being about human ego and not the welfare of the animal in question, and this goes for the training of other species as well.

 

J.

 

Yes, this.

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Well, at the risk of sounding like the reward-only trainers on this forum, :lol: I have to wonder why one would choose to inflict pain as a training method if there are other pain-free methods that would also work. Any dog trained that way could certainly be happy in the end, once the force-based training is not longer being applied, but seriously (and this is an honest question), why would someone want to deliberately inflict pain if it can be avoided? It just strikes me as once again being about human ego and not the welfare of the animal in question, and this goes for the training of other species as well.

 

J.

 

I wonder....how is a soft mouth, a nice long hold or the natural retrieve passed on? I guess we can assume it is genetic but perhaps it is more difficult to "fix" in a particular population/line than say a natural outrun?? IDK, just thinking out loud. There must be SOME logic to breeding retrievers right?

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I have never trained a hunting dog – that is, trained a dog for hunting or for retrieving birds. I have however trained bird dogs and retrievers to fetch.

 

I have on occasion used an ear pinch to get a dog to open its mouth – usually to get a dog to release an object. With bird dogs like Vizslas and Pointers, very little pinching was necessary. With retrievers you had to really had to dig before they even seemed to notice. Griffons were somewhere in between.

I asked a breeder of field-bred Labradors if he had had the same experience, and he said yes. He said field dogs are bred to have a very high pain threshold because leaping into freezing water and crashing through heavy cover is uncomfortable. If they are to put up with the discomfort and remain keen, it is best for them to have a high pain threshold.

 

Labradors in particular are famous for taking the most grueling mauling from (human) toddlers without wincing. It is my belief that they are not necessarily more forbearing – it simply doesn’t hurt them as much. If I torqued my Border Collie’s ear in that way, she might have my hand off before even she knew what she was about. Collies are sensitive – mentally and physically.

 

Pit Bulls, especially those from fighting lines have very high pain thresholds as well. They put up without apparent discomfort with things that would be excruciating for a Collie, a Greyhound or some high-strung, sensitive lap-dog. This makes sense if you think about the fact that they must tolerate/ignore a great deal of pain to do well in the pit.

 

This is not to say that I think it is necessarily more desirable to use pain-based corrections and/or methods to teach Sporting Dogs. But they do seem to tolerate them much better than other breeds like the various Collies.

 

I think that is one reason that electric collars are still used so commonly with field dog training. The dogs simply don’t have the kind of reaction that a Border Collie would be likely to have. “Running big” and being tough are sought-after qualities in many Field dogs – but they also need to handle birds gently and release them instantly to hand. I think that breeders of Field dogs breed for toughness and boldness to get the stamina and high pain-threshold that are needed in a hunting dog, and as a consequence they can use (sometimes need to use) more draconian-seeming methods to get the soft mouth and the compliant return and release of the bird.

 

Many people have noticed that Australian cattle Dogs are "tougher" than Border Collies. Their work is different, although there is some overlap - but it seems to me that a cattle dog would be much more often in physical contact with the stock they work. Not to say that sheep can't be dangerous to a dog - but cattle are huge. Toughness matters with a cattle dog. I am quite sure that if you did laboratory testing you would find that the average cattle or Livestock guarding dog has a higher pain threshold than the average dog used primarily on sheep. My guess is that a Cattle Dog could tolerate the pain of an ear-pinch or a shock collar better than the average Border Collie. (Whether he would resent the ear-pinch and take your hand off is a different matter - but I suspect that it would be more about indignation than pain.)

 

Edited to add: Don't get the idea that I think Border Collies don't have a lot of toughness too, but though a Border Collie needs to have a high level of stamina, the demands placed the sheepdog are more of simple physical exertion, and mental concentration. They don't usually take a thrashing from the sheep or the paddock or larger pasture they are working.

 

In contrast, the sort of toughness that a dog used for hunting bears, cougars or even running down deer is qualitatively different. They must not only have great stamina, but the can expect to be hurt if they engage their prey. This calls for a dog that not only has a high pain threshold, but one that is headstrong to the point of near-insanity in the chase. I would not be at all surprised to learn that such dogs can only be trained/controlled in the heat of an engagement with the use of an electric collar, or at least a stout stick!

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I see what you are getting at, geonni, but I wonder if it's really as general as that.

 

Anna would be the one to ask. Are her lines really less "sensitive" (in the "collie way you are talking about) than other bcs? I know they are sure tough enough for cattle.

 

Odin has a really high pain threshold. Half the time something happens he doesn't notice it, or more importantly, doesn't care. When he needed surgery on his shoulder, he still wanted to go after balls like a crazy dog, and sure doesn't mind being poked in the eye by a baby. He does come from a farm that specializes in goats and also cattle, but his recent pedigree has a lot of sheepdogs in it. So, ???

 

That being said, I know I could teach my dog a reliable obedience fetch (to hand) with only mild verbal corrections and lots of reward. But he is so obsessed with fetch I'm not sure he's a good example.

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With retrievers you had to really had to dig before they even seemed to notice. Griffons were somewhere in between.

I asked a breeder of field-bred Labradors if he had had the same experience, and he said yes. He said field dogs are bred to have a very high pain threshold because leaping into freezing water and crashing through heavy cover is uncomfortable. If they are to put up with the discomfort and remain keen, it is best for them to have a high pain threshold.

 

That is interesting. It would seem to me that a dog that has a high pain threshold - one that one would really have to work to cause enough pain to make an impact on - would be a poor candidate for this type of training. It would seem, in this case, that using motivation/reinforcement would actually be a great deal easier and straightforward, regardless of what is being taught.

 

I have not worked with retrievers in this context, but I've worked with them in other contexts, and I haven't met one yet who required any particular amount of work to recognize and eagerly work for a motivator. In fact, the retrievers tend to excel at this.

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<snip> If they are to put up with the discomfort and remain keen, it is best for them to have a high pain threshold.

 

Labradors in particular are famous for taking the most grueling mauling from (human) toddlers without wincing. It is my belief that they are not necessarily more forbearing it simply doesnt hurt them as much. If I torqued my Border Collies ear in that way, she might have my hand off before even she knew what she was about. Collies are sensitive mentally and physically.

 

<snip>

 

I think that is one reason that electric collars are still used so commonly with field dog training. The dogs simply dont have the kind of reaction that a Border Collie would be likely to have. Running big and being tough are sought-after qualities in many Field dogs but they also need to handle birds gently and release them instantly to hand. I think that breeders of Field dogs breed for toughness and boldness to get the stamina and high pain-threshold that are needed in a hunting dog, and as a consequence they can use (sometimes need to use) more draconian-seeming methods to get the soft mouth and the compliant return and release of the bird.

 

Many people have noticed that Australian cattle Dogs are "tougher" than Border Collies. Their work is different, although there is some overlap - but it seems to me that a cattle dog would be much more often in physical contact with the stock they work. Not to say that sheep can't be dangerous to a dog - but cattle are huge. Toughness matters with a cattle dog. I am quite sure that if you did laboratory testing you would find that the average cattle or Livestock guarding dog has a higher pain threshold than the average dog used primarily on sheep. My guess is that a Cattle Dog could tolerate the pain of an ear-pinch or a shock collar better than the average Border Collie. (Whether he would resent the ear-pinch and take your hand off is a different matter - but I suspect that it would be more about indignation than pain.)

 

Edited to add: Don't get the idea that I think Border Collies don't have a lot of toughness too, but though a Border Collie needs to have a high level of stamina, the demands placed the sheepdog are more of simple physical exertion, and mental concentration. They don't usually take a thrashing from the sheep or the paddock or larger pasture they are working.

 

In contrast, the sort of toughness that a dog used for hunting bears, cougars or even running down deer is qualitatively different. They must not only have great stamina, but the can expect to be hurt if they engage their prey. This calls for a dog that not only has a high pain threshold, but one that is headstrong to the point of near-insanity in the chase. I would not be at all surprised to learn that such dogs can only be trained/controlled in the heat of an engagement with the use of an electric collar, or at least a stout stick!

I disagree with much of this, simply from the POV of someone who uses my border collies on stock and sees the injuries, beatings (from stock and environment) etc., that they work through on a regular basis. I see no difference in a dog who can take a beating from a 300-lb ram or be kicked in the face by a heifer (yep, I've had both happen to my dogs and they kept right on with the job despite the beating) and yet turn around and be gentle as can be with a week-old lamb and a good hunting dog with a pain threshold that allows it to work in tough conditions and yet be gentle with the downed game (without having to be forced to be one or the other through abusive training techniques). As far as I know, this is what we *breed* for in border collies--the ability to adjust appropriately to the situation at hand and to not use a "hammer" just because it has that hammer in hand (to use a sort of strange analogy), nor to quit when getting beat up on my unruly stock or nasty terrain. Not long ago, Twist ripped her ear nearly in half running through brambles and I had no clue she had done anything to herself until I was bringing her back through the gate and saw that her neck was covered with blood. I'm sure you know I could list a gazillion examples of working border collies working through or in spite of pain because they are so driven to work that they ignore the pain. And yet these same dogs would not take kindly to a shock collar or ear pinches or any other sort of unfair or painful correction. That's why I disagree with the premise that one needs to breed a tough (read: insensitive to pain/correction) dog in order to do a job and then follow on with painful training techniques because otherwise the dog won't get it. It still seems to me more of a situation of people breeding dogs on which they can use their "tried and true" training techniques instead of actually breeding dogs who have the inherent characteristics of mental/physical toughness *and* appropriate "softness" as needed. (And while one can argue that the pit bulls' high tolerance to pain bred in for fighting has the happy side effect of making them tolerant of unruly children, I would counter that with the argument that the dogs were bred to have a high pain tolerance in a fight situation but *also* to be extremely submissive to their human handlers, which of course would transfer to little humans as well.)

 

J.

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That is interesting. It would seem to me that a dog that has a high pain threshold - one that one would really have to work to cause enough pain to make an impact on - would be a poor candidate for this type of training. It would seem, in this case, that using motivation/reinforcement would actually be a great deal easier and straightforward, regardless of what is being taught.

I agree, but then if your paradigm is training with pain, I guess you'd need a dog that could take a lot of pain and still be willing to work for you. A dog with a lower pain threshold would presumably quit, which I think is Geonni's argument (it's kind of a chicken-egg thing: was the high pain threshold developed to accommodate the training techniques or vice versa?). My own dogs will work through pain inflicted on them by livestock or environmental conditions but won't necessarily tolerate unnecessary and painful corrections from me. That says to me that the dogs understand the difference, or perhaps that their keenness to work will carry them through the tough stuff encountered in an actual working situation, while they wouldn't tolerate pain in situations where the pain is being inflicted by their human. Just my two cents of course.

 

J.

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I think there is a definite distinction between pain tolerance and sensitivity to correction. While many border collies have a very high pain threshold, they tend to be much more sensitive to correction than other breeds. It's part of what makes them so much fun and easy to train for obedience and dog sports. I find that the average lab or cattledog takes a much more significant verbal or collar correction in a companion dog training setting than the average border collie.

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Now, see? This is what I love about the BC Boards. Every time I think I have something figured out, someone comes along and says, "Well, maybe, but what about this?"

 

Julie-

Your points are well taken. Now I'm wondering about this combination of high pain threshold and sensitivity to correction. I'm convinced that the mind of a Labrador Retriever is significantly different from that of a Border Collie. And my experience tells me that the Lab is less sensitive to pain in general. Is it possible that the Border Collie's ability to work through pain comes from a higher drive to work? In other words, does the Border Collie feel the pain of an injury received while working, but is so strongly motivated to work that it works in spite of the pain - whereas the Lab works in rough cover and icy water because it just doesn't feel the pain?

 

I hear a lot about the importance of drive in a stock dog. Is it possible that a dog with insufficient drive quits working because it feels the pain or intimidation of the work/stock, where a dog with more drive will feel these things but be strongly motivated to work anyway?

 

The following is a rather pathetic example compared to one that could be given about a working stock dog, but here goes...

My Border Collie seems impervious to the pain of torn pads, or toenails while playing fetch or Frisbee, but if she gets a much less painful injury outside of that context she's a big baby about it. She is also hyper-sensitive to physical corrections - so much so that I never use them except in extreme circumstances, (or occasionally, reflexively.) And I'm usually sorry I did even then. This would tend to support my notion of a dog who is quite sensible of the pain it feels, but is driven to ignore it when "working."

 

I don't wish to oversimplify the work that a hunter/retriever does, but it does seem to me that the hunting dog's work is much simpler than the stock dog's. A bird dog runs out, looks for birds, freezes when it finds them and retrieves them when they are shot. A water retriever sits in a blind or a boat and waits to be sent for downed birds.

 

The stock dog's work is infinitely more complex - with the dog not only needing to follow the bidding of his handler, but to make quick decisions, moment by moment on it's own. This requires a very high degree of a specific type of intelligence that IMO the retriever does not have. Perhaps this degree of intelligence brings with it a corresponding degree of sensitivity. I once read in a book by a well-known obedience trainer (Pearsall?)that the best choice of a dog for competition obedience was a "half-bright Golden Retriever." The reason given was that the dog would happily perform endless reps of the same behavior, where a more intelligent and/or sensitive dog would either get bored, or the reps would start to "get on it's nerves."

 

Root Beer, et al-

I want to reiterate that I am not championing the use of the forced retrieve or of the electric collar. I'm just trying to work out why such techniques and equipment are still in such widespread use, when there are presumably less painful and equally effective ways to go about training dogs.

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Now, see? This is what I love about the BC Boards. Every time I think I have something figured out, someone comes along and says, "Well, maybe, but what about this?"

 

Julie-

Your points are well taken. Now I'm wondering about this combination of high pain threshold and sensitivity to correction. I'm convinced that the mind of a Labrador Retriever is significantly different from that of a Border Collie. And my experience tells me that the Lab is less sensitive to pain in general. Is it possible that the Border Collie's ability to work through pain comes from a higher drive to work? In other words, does the Border Collie feel the pain of an injury received while working, but is so strongly motivated to work that it works in spite of the pain - whereas the Lab works in rough cover and icy water because it just doesn't feel the pain?

I don't have time to respond to everything, but I wanted to point out that border collies used in goose control work often have to swim in cold water and may even be doing so for longer stretches of time than a retriever that is retrieving a bird(s) and then coming back out of the water. I watched one of my own dogs swim in an icy cold pond for 10-15 minutes while helping out a friend with a goose control business and while my dogs' presence in the water prevented the geese we had chased off from circling back for a landing, we both got a bit worried about the risk of hypothermia for her, since she didn't seem inclined to come out on her own.... So either she doesn't feel the pain or she just really likes to swim and didn't care that it was cold as hell (and I can tell you it's the latter with this particular dog).

 

If the border collie's ability to work through pain because of keennness to work is what's different, then I'd say that's a direct result of breeding for the work, which brings me full circle back to retrievers who won't retrieve properly without requiring training techniques involving pain: somewhere the breeding has gone awry, IMO.

 

J.

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Perhaps this degree of intelligence brings with it a corresponding degree of sensitivity.

 

I personally think this comes closer to the difference. ISTM that a lot of BCs are smart enough that they can develop a sense of 1) when they are being corrected for something vs. when something is happening to them, and 2) a sense of, for lack of a better term, how "fair" that correction is. I've seen BCs and kelpies shut down, start acting very nervous to the detriment of their work, or become very "hard" in response to IMO unnecessarily harsh or repetitive corrections on stockwork, including my own dog. I've also seen dogs, including my own dog, get injured to a high degree of pain due to losing entire pads or getting kicked in the face by cattle and show no sign of it.

 

On a pet level (since that relates to fetching more I think), I know that if I hit Odin accidently with the ball, or if my daughter pokes him in the eye, he ignores it. He knows those aren't corrections. But if I "corrected" him by pegging objects at him, or purposefully poking him in the eye, I know he would know the difference and not take it at all.

 

That being said, I don't think BCs are the only dogs smart enough to make these distinctions. And I fully see Root Beer's and Julies points. Putting it another way, if a lab requires harsher corrections to react well to a correction due to either high pain threshold or general low sensitivity, then either 1) wouldn't motivational training be easier anyway? or 2) for dedicated working field purposes, maybe they should be bred softer/more sensitive, since I would say BCs show you can clearly breed for physical toughness AND sensitivity leading to higer levels of biddability at the same time.

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Connie Cleveland, a well known obedience instructor who does seminars all over the country uses a mix of rewards and corrections, including ear pinch for the forced retrieve. While I wouldn't use a couple of her techniques myself, I was incredibly impressed by how fair and consistent (not to mention talented) she is in her approach to training. I watched her force fetch train a dog who had not been ear pinched before and it was done so calmly and non-emotionally, that the dog quickly figured out how to get the pinch to stop and there was no screaming or trauma that I could see. She seems to prefer retrievers for her own dogs but going back to how her being fair in her corrections, she has stated on more than one occasion, "Just because a dog CAN take harsh treatment doesn't mean he SHOULD need to." She also emphasized that corrections like the ear pinch occur after a dog understands what is being asked of him, not as a way to train the dog what you wanted.

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Connie Cleveland, a well known obedience instructor who does seminars all over the country uses a mix of rewards and corrections,... I watched her force fetch train a dog who had not been ear pinched before and it was done so calmly and non-emotionally, that the dog quickly figured out how to get the pinch to stop and there was no screaming or trauma that I could see.

My italics.

 

This is frequently the key. I've seen too many people start training a fetch with treat-based or other positive means, and then - usually because of poor timing on their part - they become frustrated when the dog doesn't pick it up right away. So they say, "Oh, screw all this!" and go for the thumbnail in the ear. Their attitude is "I'm gonna show this SOB! He'll take that dumbell now!" He goes for blood with a thumbnail, usually staring into the dog's eyes to see it capitulate.

 

So the dog screams, or bites or runs away. And really I think that the dog is retreating from the hostility and anger radiating from the owner - whose ego has been tweaked or who is simply frustrated to the point of anger. Sure, he won't like the ear pinch. But I think it's the owner's emotional state that most upsets the dog.

 

And as it was also observed, I would never try to pop a dog's mouth open with an ear pinch in the teaching stage. There's too many ways that are easier on me and the dog. And even later, on a dog that has gone sour on taking the dumbell. Wouldn't it be better to find out why the dog soured on the exercise, and fix that? I've used an ear pinch on dogs. But if you don't get the desired result with one or two pinches - you need to rethink your training and/or your dog.

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