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need some ideas on teaching puppy to retrieve (not border collie)


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Hey all, I hope you don't mind if I ask for advice on a non-border collie.

 

I have a 10month old Chihuahua terrier mix, that my 9yr old daughter and I are training for agility. He is super smart and has been clicker trained from the beginning. I have had no trouble shaping behaviors and tricks with him. He is over the top food motivated. If there is no food in the picture he will play with toys as well, he loves to tug.

 

My issue is getting him to retrieve. He will bring something back but stops just a few feet short of bringing it all the way to me. He loves to tug so I was hoping by having him retrieve things he could tug it would be reward enough. Treats just stop all toy play (even boring old kibble).

 

Right now I am just working small distance and reinforcing when he does bring it close enough for us to tug (seems to happen more on accident than on purpose).

 

This dog has caught on to EVERYTHING I have taught him so quickly I just don't think it is a matter of him not understanding the criteria, it seems it is more an issue of it being more fun to play with the toy on his own, or make me come get it (or tug it in on a short line).

 

Any suggestions?

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Are you leaning over when he gets near?

 

Have you tried sitting on the floor or in a chair and C/T for steps towards you? No grabbing or reaching out. Work towards him putting the toy in your hand rather than you taking it.

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Have you tried running away as he comes back to you? As long as he doesn't drop the toy to run after you ..... When he catches up to you, pull out a tug toy (even if he has a tug toy in mouth, use another one) and play with him.

 

Jovi

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Agree with Sekah - back chaining is your friend here!

 

As far as building desire to tug with you, check out the Michael Ellis "The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog" - really great video on building tug drive and making the playtime with you the event rather than the object itself.

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I normally put a dog on leash when teaching to retrieve. That way I can reel them in if needed.

 

I would also work on teaching your dog how to think and do things when food/treats are out. This could be a problem down the road because your dog could end up crashing equipment if the dog is too worried about the food.

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I normally put a dog on leash when teaching to retrieve. That way I can reel them in if needed.

 

I would also work on teaching your dog how to think and do things when food/treats are out. This could be a problem down the road because your dog could end up crashing equipment if the dog is too worried about the food.

 

He actually focus's really well when food is involved. He just doesn't want to play with toys when they are out. He will switch to toy play but it takes a few try's for him to realize food is really gone and we are playing with toys now.

 

I would love to back chain the "put in hand part" of the retrieve (that is what my original plan was), but my problem is when the "click treat" part happens, he doesn't want any part of the toy anymore. He will interact with the toy for a treat (nosing it and pouncing on it) but his normally good retrieve (except the part where he brings it all the way back). Goes away completely.

 

I was playing fetch with him in the hallway last night and that was going pretty well, he would run all the way to me for a game of tug he didn't have as much room to avoid bringing it in. I may just do that for a while and see if we can break the mental part of him not bringing it in.

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If you're wanting to teach a back chained retrieve then I think you're moving too fast. Play fetch and have fun with it, but I would keep the returning to hand portion reserved for actual training sessions until he's 99% of the way to understanding "put ball from floor to hand". Once he understands the behaviour you can reintroduce it into play. It's not uncommon for a dog to lose interest in play once the food comes out, so don't try to merge the two while a new behaviour is still being taught/refined.

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You are probably right, I am an impatient trainer, especially with a dog that normally seems to pick new behaviors up very quickly. If I want to back chain that behavior I am going to have to take baby steps (ugh, makes me cringe thinking about it lol).

 

If you're wanting to teach a back chained retrieve then I think you're moving too fast. Play fetch and have fun with it, but I would keep the returning to hand portion reserved for actual training sessions until he's 99% of the way to understanding "put ball from floor to hand". Once he understands the behaviour you can reintroduce it into play. It's not uncommon for a dog to lose interest in play once the food comes out, so don't try to merge the two while a new behaviour is still being taught/refined.

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