Just make sure your dog can handle the stress. All dogs do not need to be FF. A matter of fact, most dogs do not. I know this is going against the customary way of doing things, but, the average person does not see the number of dogs that get washed out of training because of some techniques that goes beyond the stress level of some dogs. If you are competing, make sure you have that animal that can take the stress. For you companion hunting dog owners, make sure you do not diminish that natural ability and willingness to do what he is bred to do. Good luck and enjoy the experience. Jim
Going to have to disagree with you on this one Jim. Spencer explains FF well in Training Retrievers for Marshes and Meadows. Until I read that, I wasn't sure why I would want to FF/CR (conditioned retrieve) my dog.
Here is my philosophy:
To a dog, the most important part of its body is its nose and mouth. Think about the importance of a dogs mouth; a dog does just about everything with its mouth. It catches, kills and eats game with it. It tastes and investigates things with its mouth. It grooms itself and other dogs with its mouth. It greets with its mouth (licking). It fights with its mouth. It communicates (snarls, barks, etc.) with its mouth. It even uses it for reproduction; a male dog will taste a females urine to check for estrous. There are probably other uses that I can't think of at the moment.
Now, there is little we can really do to condition the nose, except lots of good practice using it. However, we can condition the dog to use its mouth for us, rather than for itself. "If you have control of a dogs mouth, you have control of the dog." I came up with that one all by myself...
Force fetch is the process of conditioning the dog to work for you, the pack leader. There may be some rare exceptions, but until a dog goes through a good FF/CR program, it is freelancing. It will work for you as long as it wants to. It may be 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% reliable, but sooner or later a dog that has not gone through FF/CR is going to let you down in a tough situation.
That is the whole trick of the trade, being able to motivate and find that nitch to get the dog to perform because he/she wants to. I see the dogs that do not make it or what the dog establishment calls Washed Out. In most instances it is because of the stress related to the trainig. I decided at a young age that for the person wanting a good companion hunting partner, I would develop the techniques needed to make sure they all succeed. For competition, you need to get the dog that can take the stress. It is a time vs money situation. The amount of stress needed is dictated by what is between those ears, not what the customary training procedure dictates. It is a real challenge reversing the effects of the wrong training methods applied to a dog. I see this a lot mainly because I have the reputation of being able to reintroduce the dog in a positive way to overcome the problems. If I have the opportunity to discuss these issues with someone before they actually pick their dog, the match between owner/handler, the dog and training method applied produces a positive experience. I hope I have not upset anyone or stepped on some toes here, but I am very passionate about this subject. Most important thing is to Enjoy and appreciate the Experience. Jim
You bring up a good point about a dog doing everything with his mouth and it being natural for them to do this I do not have the expertise of most of you, but why fix something that is not broke? I have had 2 dogs and did not force fetch them nor do I think I will ever. I have never had my dogs not pick up anything I have commanded them to I watched some videos on ff and felt it was cruel, those poor dogs on the table were scared as all hell fetching should be a fun natural thing, Again I am no trainer but if you saw my current dog I think most would be impressed on what he does on MY limited skills.
The best answer I can give you is to read Spencer's "Training Retrievers for Marshes and Meadows". There is a reason why virtually every professional retriever trainer (with an exception or two ;-) take dogs through a "force fetch" / "conditioned retrieve" process; it works, and it works well.
Force fetch can be done with kindness. I don't know what you saw, but it does not have to be cruel. Any technique can be misapplied and done with cruelty, not just FF/CR.
Spanking your children, when done properly, and with the proper mindset, is one of the kindest, most loving things you can do for them. Have you ever been involved in a school sports program? Were you forced to perform certain exercises and conditioning routines that were unpleasant? Was it fun at the time? Did you quit because of it? Or did it make you mentally tough so that when you needed the physical and mental reserve demanded by the situation, you had it in you? Not everything in life must be fun to be effective.
Retriever training can be lots of fun, but there are times when retriever training is not fun. Not fun for us, and not fun for the dog. Sometimes it is downright plain old hard WORK. This is true no matter what the concept is you are working on. That is why we honor the handler/dog team that performs with excellence; they have worked to get there. They did not just play around occasionally with fun bumpers and doggie treats. I'm not saying this is how you train your dog. I don't know you and have never seen your dog work, so this is not anything personal.
When we train our dogs, it is extremely important that we do make it fun, especially at first. Just like you would not use certain teaching techniques with a young child, you do not want to create unpleasant experiences for your pup. But when pup is mature enough (physically and mentally) for more advanced training, we mix in the WORK with the play. We train the dog for its life's WORK. Our own WORK is not always pleasant, but we do it for the reward of ______________ and to keep from ___________. (you fill in the blanks). We do our work both to attain the positive stuff (family, new gun, etc.) as well as to avoid the negative stuff (living on the street, going hungry, etc.). Same with the dogs. They, like us, learn that life is a mixture of pleasant stuff and unpleasant stuff, but overall, it's a pretty good deal when we do the best we can with what God has given us.
I do not think you can compare humans to dogs we understand why we must do certain things like work. I don't believe a dog puts
things together and understands why they are being put through a very unpleasant procedure. I do understand training is work and no I don't throw a fun bumper and get excited because my dog brought it back. I treat my dog as part of my family he is my fur kid since I don't have children again I am by no means nor do I think I am an expert. The video I saw was water dog by richard wolters the way some of his dogs cower in some parts of the video really make me wonder about is training methods.
I just don't understand why a dog has to be put through that if they do not have a problem with fetching. You also talk about pressure I am sure most people including so called pros don't really know much about it. I have seen what a "pro" trainer did to
a dog training it how to fetch the dog now destoys ever bird it gets near. I believe this would have never happend if he did not put to much pressure on the dog but some of these trainers have pressure to pump these dogs out I don't know you and have never seen your dogs but I'm sure this is not you. I hope some day to meet you at a hunt test or feild trial.
"I just don't understand why a dog has to be put through that if they do not have a problem with fetching."
First, I have never seen the tape you are referring to, so I am not going to defend it. Second, please read Spencer's book. Although on the surface it would appear that FF/CR is only about fetching, it goes MUCH deeper than that. It is about who is working for whom. It is about establishing an effective WORKing relationship between human and canine. It is about leadership and attitude and respect.
Again, please read Spencer's book. He explains it much better than I ever could. Likewise, I look forward to meeting you at a hunt test in the near future.
If you are good at reading what is between those two ears, you will know how much stress can be successfully put onto that particular animal. Orion is right. It is not about just retrieving. I feel it is all about working within that stress level that the dogs personality dictates. It is not a matter of, Can they do the job, it is a matter of finding that nitch and nurturing it. If it is a retriever, they will sit, stay, heel, retrieve on command, under a gun, do multiple retrieves and handle. Have not seen one that could not be trained. If we are talking competition. then as I have said many times, that is a different animal. The personality needs to meet a different criteria than the companion hunting dog. Just my experience and age talking. For what is worth. Good luck and God Bless..........Jim
I think you bring up a very good point about a hunting dog and a feild trials dog after working several trials the last couple of years I believe there is a difference between the 2. I also understand a dog needs to know who is boss but by the time they are old enough to be ff that should already have been established through other training sit, stay, heel ect. I am curiouse is there any data, Facts on this subject a test of dogs that were ff and a test of dogs that were not and also Orion in what situation would a dog have to much pressure on it that it would not pick up a bird or dummy once it has found it. I appreciate the info thank you.
Bob, Everything is based on the dogs personality. Even a dog that you want to field trial may not be a good candidate for force fetching. It does not mean that the dog would not be able to compete or have Master Hunter talents. It becomes more of a time, money issue in the training process. Every Retriever can do well enough to satisfy the average duck hunter if the right techniques are used to get the natural abillities of the retriever out of him/her. That takes time. When you are talking about competition (business) then you need to consider time as money. An article I have written titled, The dog, handler/owner + training method = success, (if relationship understood) is a good base of information when deciding what you realy want or need in a dog. If two of these do not match, you have a problem. You can actually have a personality conflict with your dog. Feel free to call me for help if needed. Jim
Thank you for the response I train my dog myself and to me thats the fun of having a dog I got him to hunt with but I also do some hunt tests with him akc and hrc to expand our season and to gain experience for both of us. I cannot tell you how proud I am of my dog Max he has ribboned at all 3 of the events we have entered and is a better hunting dog then I could have hoped for hunting waterfowl or upland birds he is really something to watch working pheasants as he is steady to flush and shot.
again thank you for sharing your knowledge it is greatly appreciated .
I was refering to a comment you made in a earlier post (sooner or later a dog that has not gone through ff/cr is going to let you down in a tough situation.) you also said that a dog that has not been ff/cr will only work for you 50-90% of the time because they are not reliable until ff. I must not be understanding your meaning of this because you make it sound like until a dog is ff you are not the boss or not in control.
I would think you would have established who the boss is long before the dog is old enough to be ff through all of the obediance training the dog should have gone through.
BassMan....Establishing who is the Boss is NOT what FF is all about.. FF'ing a dog will give you a reliable retriever, one that will make the retrieves in any condition from the first retrieve of the morning to the last retrieve of the day. FF'ing also brings out the desire in dogs that would rather walk or float out to make a retrieve.. If done properly and completed a FF'ed dog is a pleasure to hunt with and to watch run in a HT, FT or just hunting in general
I believe the same way that ff is not about who's boss I was hoping Orion was going to explain some of his comments on the subject like ( force fetching is about who is working for whom.)
To me that sounds like a dog must be ff to be obediant or take commands. I do not know alot about the subject just what I saw on 1 video but I do not see how working a dog on a table using ear pinches and toe holds is going to give a dog more desire to charge out to a mark instead of walk out like you stated in your last post. I am very curiose if there is any scientific data or hard core facts on the subject. Is there?
It just seems backwards to me to take something that should be fun and natural and associate it with pain and stress and if you say there is no pain with ff then why is it necessary to make the dog open his mouth to yelp so a dummy or wood rod can be stuck int it? Again just going by what I saw on the video water dog.
BassMan, Unless you have delt with as many dogs as Orion and I have then you have no idea how the majority of dogs are before and after force fetch. A dog does not have to FF to be obedient or take commands that is not the whole theory about it. What it sounds like to me is that you need to spend some time with a "GOOD" trainer to see what FF is all about. See the dog before FF and after FF has been completed.
"I would think you would have established who the boss is long before the dog is old enough to be ff through all of the obediance training the dog should have gone through."
As I stated earlier, FF/CR is not just about the act of a dog picking something up. But, for sake of argument, let's say that this is all there is to FF/CR:
First, do not assume that obedience training is completely finished by the "normal" age that FF/CR is traditionally done, about 6+ months. As dogs mature, they will occasionally test the pack leader's authority. Even the best dogs do this. It is a normal part of growing up. It could happen at 1 year, 1 1/2, 2, whatever. If it hasn't happened with your dog yet, it will. Let's say that at some point, your dog decides to change the pickup order and switches to another bird. If you have not FF/CR, what recourse do you have? Or let's say he is going through one of these testing events and decides to stop halfway back from a retrieve and spit the bird out and stare at you. Don't think that your dog is not capable of this type of behavior. If you have not FF/CR, what recourse do you have? Etc...
For further sake of argument, think of it this way; if you have not FF/CR you have not completed the obedience training process. Think of FF/CR as obedience training involving one of the most important of all canine organs; the mouth. This is why I previously mentioned the importance of the dogs mouth. Until you have instilled the "obedience of the mouth", you do not have reliable control over what is arguably his most important organ, and therefor you do not have reliable control of the dog. You do not have the type of WORKing relationship with the retriever that will get you through those really tough situations.
Having said that, FF/CR is not just about "obedience of the mouth". As mentioned previously, it is much more than that.
Something to think about: I do retrieving demonstrations with Jack for various organizations and events. One of the things I do is demonstrate the end result of FF/CR. I will throw some bumpers on the ground and walk Jack through, telling him to fetch this one, and telling him to leave that one, etc. I hold a bumper at head height and command fetch. Jack leaps up and grabs it. I push and pull on the bumper while it is in his mouth and he does not let go. I command give and he lets go. I have him fetch and hold various objects; a box of shells, a heeling stick, a remote launcher transmitter, different size and shape bumpers, etc. I finish by holding out a McDonald's hamburger. I command fetch and he grabs and holds it. I wait a little while until he is drooling all over. I command give and he lets go of it. After a few more repetitions, I tell him OK and he gets to eat it. I have to tell you something. While the above is going on, Jack is wagging his tail the whole time. He is a happy dog. He knows what is expected of him, and he knows how to meet my expectations. He knows his role, performs with excellence and I respect and trust him for it. He believe he also respects and trusts me.
That is not to say that Jack or I are perfect. We both mess up, but the WORKing relationship we have forged, gets us through in the end...as a team of two.