Retrieves

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by corgipower, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I'm rethinking the idea of trying to train Tyr for service work, and one of the biggest things I'd need him to do is retrieves.

    Which is also one of the reasons he didn't work out previously as a SD, but the other reason was that he was uncomfortable in places like stores, and that's changed enough to retry the retrieve training.

    He can retrieve a dumbbell with no problems. But that's it. For example, I once asked him to retrieve an old cell phone. He picked it up, he brought it to me and right before giving it to me, he closed down on it just a little more and put a crack through the middle of it. I also once asked him to retrieve a book, which he did, after ripping the cover off it. *sigh* He just seems to think retrieve is a fun game and anything he's asked to retrieve should be able to be enjoyed. Which I think has something to do with how I originally trained the retrieves...:eek:

    So what's the best way to retrain this without him destroying everything I ask him to pick up? I've done a lot of take stuff from my hand retrieve basics, and that works and doesn't trigger the destructive playfulness. But as soon as I try putting it on the floor, he thinks it's a toy.
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I don't know how you originally trained the retrieves, so I'm not criticizing you or anything.... But a LOT of people think you should start training retrieves using toys and other play-type situations. This is a good way to teach your dog to play fetch, but it's not a good way to teach a formal, service dog retrieve.

    Keep working on getting him to take stuff from your hand, do that a LOT to repattern him to the correct behavior. Then gradually get him to retrieve it from your hand, moving it lower and lower until it's finally on the floor. If he starts chewing or any other innappropriate behaviors, then immediately interrupt the chewing - take the object away - and give a time out.... the chewing is self-reinforcing, and allowing him to do it just reinforces it.
     
  3. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    SD was kinda a later thought as my health issues worsened. The retrieve was formal and trained with backchaining, but also with some playing with the retrieve article because he was too stressed over being asked to maintain a hold otherwise. Worked fine when all we were thinking of is a competition retrieve, but yeah, there are some problems with doing it that way.

    I can do that. It's pretty much what I was thinking.
    Do you think it's doable or should I just wait until I'm able to get a new dog in a few years?
     
  4. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    This is kind of unconventional, and I normally would never recommend this, but I'm guessing based on the fact that you actually know how to train a retrieve and a SD that you are not a newbie owner and this ain't your first rodeo :D

    I agree with repetition, redirecting when the "hold" is too hard, but I would also add outside the retrieve training, some "mouth" games. Some dogs - especially those with thicker fur, tend to have harder mouths because of having furrier littermates with a higher pressure tolerance. (Of course some dogs don't learn proper bite inhibition for environmental reasons and have hard mouths too.)
    Will this dog play wrestle with you? Will he mouth you? If so, try and encourage that, and then with YOUR hand in his mouth in play (while amped), teach him a soft mouth - same way you would a puppy, by saying "ow" and if need be, stopping the play momentarily until he calms down a notch.
    If he won't bite you, try tricking him in to it by disguising your hand under a glove or sleeve pulled down and do the same thing. Basically you're teaching him self-control and how to keep a soft mouth even when amped up and excited, a skill that will transfer to other areas - like an object retrieve.

    Don't worry that you're teaching a bad habit - he's only mouthing when INVITED to. In nearly 40 years of allowing mouthing with multiple dogs, we've never had a dog confuse when its allowed and when its not. But again, unless you are already somewhat dog-savvy, and have a good relationship with your dog, this is not the route to go.
    HTH
     
  5. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Not such a great idea with this dog...

    He's a malinois, and kinda hardwired to bite hard.:p
     
  6. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    All the more reason to teach him how to use his mouth appropriately in specific situations. As I'm sure you know, malinois are SUPER trainable, its no accident that many of them do make fantastic service dogs :)

    Might be worth it too to contact a SD organization or a retriever trainer and asking them about methods they use to teach a soft mouth if you prefer not to use your own flesh as a the test dummy :D
     
  7. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Yep, I'd say that about sums it up. :) And what hurts me might actually be a soft(ish) mouth. It doesn't take much...

    He does have decent inhibition...considering how little damage he inflicted when his foot was caught and twisted and he was in full blown panic, screaming and pooping, and he clamped down on my finger when I went to try to help, and didn't do anything more than a scratch.
     
  8. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Wuss :D

    Do you have a significant other? I find mine makes a good crash-test-dummy... Got to put them to work somehow ya know :)

    Okay, seriously....
    Ian Dunbar has some good stuff on teaching a soft mouth, you can use a soft toy, but my preference is really a human's body part because stuffies can't feel the subtle difference in force and say "ow" at just the right time.

    The other problem is, if this is a SchH dog or protection trained in any way, teaching a soft mouth may un-do the kind of holds you need on the SchH field.
     
  9. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    I have nooo idea if this works, but this was suggested to a friend of mine. Start teaching hold on things like a thin rope or a copper wire. Things that are easier to hold when the dog doesn't clamp down.
     
  10. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    :nono:
    Keep in mind, there's a reason I need a SD in the first place...all that pain I feel when he grazes me runs from my arm through my entire body and lasts for three days...And that's just one of the many issues.:rolleyes:


    :rofl1:


    I've talked to some lab trainers on how they train a soft mouth...but then again, they're working with a breed that's bred for a soft mouth to begin with.

    I had hoped to compete in Sch with him, but at this point, I'm not holding out for that to happen.

    Interesting idea. :)
     
  11. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    I really was just trying to be funny and banter. I figured anyone with a well trained malanois was clearly not a wuss. Hence the big grin smilie. Sorry, no disrespect intended at all.

    Dekka's idea might work very well - especially if the dog has to pick the object up from the floor - they HAVE to use their incisors for that (I taught one of mine to retrieve a shoelace) and they have to be more thoughtful/purposeful about what they're holding.

    Anyway, sorry to have caused offense, I'll go back to my hole now :)
     
  12. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    No offense was taken. The finger wagging smilie was used facetiously. Just one of those misunderstanding bumps as we get to know each other. :)
     
  13. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I think that depends on how truely bad the mouthing problem is, how much time and effort you are willing to put into fixing it, and how badly you need this dog to be your service dog now. That's all stuff you'll have to answer yourself.

    PERSONALLY (****Just my opinion!!****), I think you set yourself up for a difficult time, trying to use a malenois as a service dog. My organization tried a mal once, and gave up after only a few weeks of training; we've tried several GSDs and none have completed training. I have only ever heard of one mal used as an assistance dog, that was a hearing dog self-trained by an extremely experienced (and relatively well-known) hearing dog trainer. And there's a big difference between temperments for hearing dogs and service dogs, and IMO mals are somewhat well-suited as hearing dogs.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is, if you strip away the emotional attachment and all the work you've already put into this dog and don't even take that into consideration; you're probably better off starting from scratch with a new dog of a different breed. But it's doable with this dog, it'll just take a lot of work on your part.
     
  14. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Why is that?

    I suppose I'll work on it with him...I just won't get too hopeful about it working out. ;) But it can't hurt anything to try, and if nothing else, it'll just make him smarter and make me smarter and I'll be better prepared for the next dog.
     
  15. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Well see, the thing is, everybody thinks that service dogs have to be really smart to do their job; that they have to be smart enough to be trained really fast or something. But the trouble with a dog that learns really fast, is that he learns stuff you don't want him to learn, really fast. One of our GSDs, I swear was smarter than me; she was always one step ahead. Those qualities make them really fun for trainers to work with, but make them really difficult for the majority of our recipients to be able to handle.

    As far as training, with the really smart dogs we always say that it takes a day to learn the behavior, and a month to learn how not to do the behavior. As soon as they figure out what to do, they start getting creative and trying other things.... such as mouthing the retrieve items. If you're using shaping to teach a behavior, it takes a trainer who's really experienced in shaping those specific behaviors, to know when it's going on track and when the dog's starting to get too "creative."

    We have a shepherd mix right now who went to an experienced foster's home, and within a week now he's guarding her - when anyone seems to be about to touch her, he'll growl and act aggressively toward her.... So she's sending him back, she can't handle that (and obviously we can't have a dog like that working in public). We've had another shepherd who also guarded.

    I can't remember specifically why the mal was released; it was several years ago and she really wasn't in the program very long. Maybe she was reactive with other dogs? I don't know.


    But you're right, it doesn't hurt to keep trying. Like I said, it's up to you to decide how badly you need a service dog, to decide whether to get another dog or just keep trying with this one.
     
  16. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Getting another one right now isn't at all an option, and won't be for at least a few more years. Out of the dogs I have, Tyr's the only one who even has a chance to try to be a SD - the corgis are too small and both are retired with injuries anyway, and the other mali is way too unpredictable in public.

    Thanks for the input!:)
     

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