Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Totally Fetching - Part 1

Hounds are not usually known for their retrieving abilities. Few exhibit it naturally. Travis was a freak of greyhound nature with his retrieving especially in the water (Click Here if you never saw his dock jumping post). Except for Travis, I have had to teach the other five greyhounds how to retrieve. And even Travis had to go through a similar process for a formal dumbbell retrieve.I have been wanting to do a post on how to train your dog (especially a hound) to retrieve for a very long time, but it is much easier to show if I have videos of the process. I have them now thanks to Seven. Initially, she showed some retrieving tendencies, but her toy drive turned to mush when she tasted the goodies in my pocket.In these videos, I am teaching Seven what I call a "play" retrieve. I think it is easier to teach a play retrieve with a fun toy first and then move to other objects or a dumbbell if that is your goal. Otherwise, a play retrieve is a great way to exercise the hounds and is a lot of fun.

First, you will have to find 5 - 10 minutes a day to train. I am going to give you a lot of information, but this is not rocket science or an attempt to cure cancer. This is just teaching a dog to retrieve 5 - 10 minutes per day. Yes, you do have time.

Step one, you must teach your dog the clicker training concept. If you and your dog are not familiar with clicker training spend a few days working on this exercise - Click Here. Once your dog can touch an object with his nose for a click and treat (C&T), you can begin teaching your retrieve.

Let us get started. Pick a stuffy toy that is very easy to pick up. Not too big and not too small. With greyhounds, you have to consider the long nose. You do not want something that the greyhound smashes his nose into the ground as he picks it up. The toy in my video is a good example.

Step two, teach your dog to touch the toy. You can do this several ways, but I really like the method I am going to show you. I attached a leash to the toy so I could stimulate her interest by moving it around. Use the smallest amount of movement it takes to generate any interest from your dog. It might just be a head turn, a nose touch, pouncing, or a grab. C&T for all forms of interest and interaction with the toy. You want to add value to the toy and make it very special because it causes so many C&Ts. I was lucky with Seven because she has a high prey drive and offered a grab with her teeth almost immediately so I focused on that. Ultimately, you want a teeth grab, but make sure you C&T for all interest in the toy initially.


Take your time at this step. You really want your hound's interest in the toy to increase significantly. Once you complete a 5-10 minute training session, put the toy away. The toy should only come out for training or retrieving sessions for now on. Now for some troubleshooting.

My dog has no interest in the toy even if it is moving. Clicker train your dog to touch the toy with his nose. I am assuming you have already taught your dog to touch a cup with his nose... do the same exercise, but use a toy. Put the treat on top of the toy and C&T as your dog takes the treat or you can touch the toy right to his nose and C&T.

My dog is extremely interested in the toy and tries to run off with it. Skip Part 1 training. Your dog can start at a later step that I will point out in Part 2.

My dog does well at first, but then loses interest in training. Shorten your training session. You want to end your training session while the dog still wants more. One way to accomplish this is to put 5 treats in your pocket. Once you have given them out, your training session is done. You may also need a better treat. Use real meat and cheese.
Happy Training! Let me know if there are any questions.

16 comments:

Jennifer H. said...

Thank you SO much for posting this!!! Danes aren't known for being natural retrievers either. I've been hesitant to start teaching Falkor because I didn't even know where to start. Thanks again!

Running With Dogs said...

What a coincidence that you posted this. I have to teach my IG to retrieve for Rally. She has very little interest in toys and I have never seen her pick one up ever. I knew it was going to be difficult to teach an actual retrieve, and I am so glad that you posted this. It is coming at the perfect time for us! Thanks!

houndstooth said...

I love how simple you made that! It looks like anybody could do it.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

For those of you that need to train a dumbbell retrieve. I have had good success with teaching the dog to touch it with his nose. Once he is really excited about how awesome the dumbbell is I will hide it behind my back and then pull it out quickly. This seems to make them bite at it. If they put their teeth on the dumbbell, I click and jackpot. And go from there.

whygreyhounds said...

This is similar to what I did with my greyhound. C&T when he touched the object (I started with a short piece of plastic poly pipe as didn't have a dumbell)then he picked it up, C&T and started to return to me, C&T so on...

Now, I am working on 'marking' the object & releasing him then he picks up the poly pipe & returns to me in front position. All really fun stuff to teach!

Thanks for posting great techniques. :-)

jerZgirl said...

Thank you for this post! My cardigans care not for toys when they know I have food on them either!

greytblackdog said...

Seriously, Seven is becoming the model greyhound for your pack (and blog). I love watching them learn. Oh, Seka is one of those fetching freaks and has been since day one. But only a ball. Never a toy.

Retrieverman said...

I came across an account of a greyhound being used as a working retriever in the 1820's and early 1830's:

http://retrieverman.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/a-retrieving-greyhound-named-smoaker/

thedoghouse said...

Enjoy reading your posts so much. Am currently using your method to teach our 2 new guys recall & all 3 of mine have already mastered targeting a cup using C&T. We seem to have hit a bit of a brick wall with this one though - the dogs now understand that when they touch the toy they get C&T'd & so keep doing this, but I'm not getting any of them to grab it in their mouths. Do you have any suggestions? I'm using a tennis ball on a fleece rope as the toy (I chose this because similar toys prove popular with my lot & I thought it'd be easy to throw when it comes to actually retrieving it later on) & treating with chopped sausage & cheese (both of which my hounds go nuts for). Should I switch toys do you think? Is it advisable to use something squeaky? (I'm pretty confident they'd try & pick it up if it squeaked, but then the problem might be getting them to drop it again...!)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Doghouse,

Glad your working with you hounds! Use a toy that they want to pick up and is big enough for you to touch while in their mouths. Since dog or toy will be on leash, hound cannot run away with it... so as soon as it is picked up, put your hand on it and shove a treat in dog's mouth with other hand. You can switch toys later.

When you drag the ball, they just stare at it? They should want to grab at it, but if not.. use something they want to grab.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Part 2 answer for doghouse, remember you don't want them to drop it, you want them to put in your hand. So its nice if its something they want to hang onto.

Jane said...

Thank you (x2)! Will try using different toys, maybe a squeaky if I can find a robust one, & let you know how I get on ;-)

Greyhounds for sale said...

I have been reading over your blog all morning and I must say Im having some good ideas reading it, thank you and ill be linking to you in the future as I think this is great for people that want to adopt retired racing greyhounds and are wondering on what they can do with them in terms of activities.

Potty Pip said...

Hi, I have just started agility with my lurcher/greyhound (who scarily looks identical to Seven, even down to the ears!). His problem is he won't work away from me and doesn't give a stuff about toys and has zero prey drive. Thank you for posting this as I was at a loss for what to do with him. I will have a go with what you advise and fingers crossed it'll work!

Potty Pip said...

Sorry I meant Reagan that mine looks identical to : )

KF-in-Georgia said...

I'm re-reading this info for training with Tigger. I need something I can demonstrate in a classroom on Career Day with Tigger on a short leash. I thought we'd demo clicker-training to pick up a toy and give it back to me. We should be able to practice that over and over (thru 4 classes!) without him getting tired out.

But I clicked your link above and re-watched Travis dock diving. I thought of you guys a lot this weekend when SEGA did a M&G at Cabela's during a dock-diving competition.