This Article is About
training your labrador retriever
negative reinforcement
positive reinforcement
clicker training
labrador retriever
basic skill
background research
several ways
dog training
several times
Training Your Labrador Retriever-The Force Fetch
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Training Your Labrador Retriever-The Force Fetch

When training a Labrador Retriever for hunting or field trials a basic skill that needs to be mastered is the force fetch. Training the force fetch can be challenging. There are several ways that this skill is taught. There is a way using negative reinforcement that has been used for many years. I have trained one dog using this technique and find that it is really hard to condone. It does work but it is very stressful for both you and the dog. There are better ways using positive reinforcement that work as well and are less stressful for the dog and the trainer.

Teaching the force fetch using older technique involves an ear pinch or a toe hitch. Both of these methods cause the dog to react to the pain inflicted by opening its mouth, when this happens the retrieving dummy is put into the dogs mouth and the pain is removed. This is called an escape reaction, to escape the pain the dog must have the dummy in its mouth. Repeated frequently enough, this creates a dog that is compelled to have something in its mouth at all times.

There are better ways for teaching the force fetch. Positive reinforcement gives the dog a way to perform without inflicting pain on the dog. Training a Labrador Retriever using positive reinforcement creates a stronger bond between you and your dog. The training will be retained in the dog's mind longer as well.

Teaching the force fetch with positive reinforcement requires that you load the dog. This is a standard clicker training technique. Sit down with a pile of treats( in a bag) and a clicker. Get the dogs attention, click and give it a treat. Repeat this for 5 minutes. Click, treat, click, treat. Eventually, the click will get the dog reaching for the treat. The dog is now loaded. Repeat this several times a day for a week and you will have a dog that is rewarded by the sound of the clicker. You may have heard of the background research for this that was done by Ivan Pavlov.

Once the dog is loaded, get your retrieving dummy, get your clicker and a bag of treats. Tease the dog with the dummy until it goes to grab the dummy, as soon as the dog touches the dummy, click. If the dog turns to you give a treat. Repeat this several times until the dog is pouncing on the dummy. Click each time it touches the dummy. When this is working well, up the level required a bit. Make the dog pick the dummy up before you click. If it drops the dummy to get a treat that is fine. If it pounces and then leaves the dummy tease it a bit more until it makes the grab. Just up the challenge a bit at a time. If you stop making progress go back a step.

Soon the dog will be picking up the dummy. Up the challenge again and have it bring the dummy toward you. Click when the dog turns toward you with the dummy in its mouth. Treat liberally. The finished behavior is to have the dog pick up the dummy, come to heal and release the dummy into your hand. Take each step separately, allow an approximation of the behavior to start then be a bit more picky. Use short frequent sessions and you will have a dog that brings the dummy to you and releases it to hand in short order.

If your ultimate goal is training a Labrador Retriever for hunting, when you have the behavior with a dummy, acquire a pigeon or duck wing and use this as the dummy or attach some feathers to the dummy. Just get the scent of the bird into the dog's nose. You will soon have a dog that is nuts about Retrieving and has been trained in the force fetch. Now your problem will be directing the inherent talent of your dog.

Street Talk

Great article, really great way to train your dog, This process is new to me but sounds very effective. Thank you

  about 1 decade ago
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