Friday, January 7, 2011

Totally Fetching - Part 4

Here is the final installment to teaching your hound or non-retriever to retrieve.

Part 1 - Click Here
Part 2 - Click Here
Part 3 - Click Here

At this point, I was satisfied that Seven understood that she should pick up and put the toy in my hand.  So I switched toys on her.  I switched to my favorite toy, the Zanie Flyer.  The stuffy disc is not easy to pick up so it is not ideal for early training, but its very easy to throw a good distance so it was important for me to eventually make the switch.  This video is an awesome illustration of how dogs do not generalize.  Throw down a Zanie Flyer and suddenly Seven's brain turns to mush and she has no idea how to proceed. 
With a new toy, I have to take a few steps back to remind Seven what we are doing.  The dog should progress much faster with each new toy.  The more toys and objects you work with, the more your dog learns to generalize.  Eventually, you can point to anything and your dog will pick it up for you.  Katie was especially good at generalizing and would pick up anything I asked her to.  In this video, one of the dogs had dragged a toy out into the yard.  I was barefoot and did not want to get it myself so I asked Katie to get it.  It was not something we had practiced, but we had worked with such a variety of things she knew what I wanted.
In this video, I run Seven through all of the steps with the Zanie Flyer.  I start by dragging the toy with a leash and C&T the pick ups.  Then I C&T for pick ups when the toy is motionless.  I start to grab the toy.  Notice that I run through all of these steps in just one minute.
In our next training session, Seven quickly started to offer to pick up and put the toy in my hand again so I started to add some distance.  I am sorry the video is so dark.
Now we have a finished "play" retrieve.  At this point, you do not need the clicker anymore.  You can just trade the toy for a treat.  I tend to continue using treats for play retrieves since it keeps my food motivated hounds very motivated to retrieve.  I sometimes will reward every other retrieve depending on the dog.  I also do not use high value treats once the game has a lot of value.

Happy Training!  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I know this seems like a lot of work, but it is only because I broke it down into so many steps.  This entire process only took about a week for Seven.