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Holding Objects, I need some advice


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Alright, so I'm trying to teach holding objects but this dog makes me feel like he's determined to refuse holding something in his mouth. He'll briefly clamp down on it but let it drop out of his mouth a half of a second later. I'm pretty sure he understands I want him to take the object but not the part where I want him to hold it. He's not a particularly mouthy dog either and doesn't have any toys he likes period. Any advice for teaching this?

 

I'm feeling a little frustrated.

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I'm actually having the same problem with my dog. I want to teach her to find and bring me the leash when it's walk time, just as a fun little trick. She'll sometimes grab it with her mouth, but never hold it for more than half a second. So I think I'm going to start again by teaching her the word "leash".

I'll definitely be watching this topic to see what other people say!

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When I taught this to Dean, I taught him to take the object from my hand and give it back to my hand. Once he was doing that consistently, I started to pause for a split second before cueing him to give it. He didn't drop it since he was expecting to give it to me in my hand. I gradually increased the duration of time and added the cue "hold it" once he was actually holding it for a bit.

 

I never really took it further than that, but it did work. Later I taught him "drop it" to drop the ball on the ground instead of handing it to me.

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I started with Kenzi by just holding her muzzle and mark/reward. Then open her mouth and mark/reward. So she was ready and comfortable with me holding and positioning her mouth before I ever added in objects.

 

When I added in the object (a dowel) it was easy to get her to open her mouth and put it in. I'd put the dowel in her mouth, mark, take it out and reward.

 

The next step was to put the dowel in her mouth, hold her mouth shut, mark reward.

 

Then I was finally able to present it to her and I'd mark the second she'd bite down on it. And we just built on it from there - wait half a second longer before marking/rewarding.

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@RootBeer; how did you go about teaching Dean to take the object in the first place?

 

@Maralynn; thank you I might try this method, I'm sure it would also come in handy to get him use to having his mouth handled anyway. You wouldn't happen to know of a video online that I could see of teaching this?

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When we first adopted him, he would readily put his mouth on just about anything, so that was easy.

 

But if I were to do it now with a dog that did not do that, I would start with something that the dog would readily take. Like an old sock with treats inside, or a toy that he or she would pick up. Once the dog knew the cue "take it", I would move to something that would not be odd for the dog to put in his or her mouth. And from there, something completely different.

 

I actually want to teach this to Tessa. It's on the list!!

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If you are clicker savvy, you can shape a retrieve. Here is a link to the first of several days of video footage of a shaped retrieve. The rest can also be viewed on that youtube channel. Lots of good stuff there. http://www.youtube.com/user/dfenzi#p/u/12/FpbcztihP8Q I can't get the link thing to work, so you will have to copy/paste!

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I have some video of a few of my training sessions with Kenzi and I'll try to get it up, but it won't be for a couple days.

 

The reason I went this route with Kenzi instead of the way Kristine talked about was that Kenzi would grab things and want to play/tug/chew instead of just holding. Objects she liked = playtime. So taking the other approach helped her learn that I want her to calmly hold the object instead of partying with it and using a neutral object helped because it wasn't a playtime cue.

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I also clicker trained the retrieve, and I'll also add that I taught the word "hold".

 

I shaped the dog to "take it" from my hand (adding the word when he was finally putting his mouth on it reliably). Then I began putting my hand around his muzzle while saying "hold", then verbally marking, then asking for a "give". I quickly built up to where I could just have my hand on his chin, then my hand could gently go to his chin if he needed a reminder.

 

Once he was reliably able to sit or stand in front of me and "hold", then I asked him to start picking the object up from my hand on the ground (rather than in front of his face). Then I was able to remove my hand and he would just pick it up from the ground. THEN I asked him to retrieve from farther away.

 

I found that teaching "take it", "hold", and "give" as separate steps helped with the overall retrieve. I also started this with an obedience dumbbell; besides the fact that we were using that in the obedience ring, the bar Scorch puts his mouth on is off of the ground so it's easier to pick up. After that, it was an easy transition to pens, leashes, purses... things that laid on the ground and weren't as easy to grab with his mouth.

 

Scorch is a great retriever when playing but HATED putting hard plastic in his mouth, so we had to gradually shape the retrieve over a few weeks. My pit bull mix, on the other hand, would have retrieved a steel pole if I asked him too; his retrieve was reliable in a few days. So it does depend on what you're asking them to retrieve and how sensitive your dog is.

 

We call Scorch "the princess" sometime. His take it for new objects is sometimes weak but once it's in his mouth, he'll "hold" like a champ.

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I think the biggest issue my dog has is he's so interested in the food he doesn't care to have the object in his mouth, he'll mouth it and drop it immediately looking for the treat. It's a little frustrating. So I think maybe the holding the mouth might be the best method for him, I think if it's any objects with treats in it or on it, he'll take it and tear it apart.

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