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Fetch?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Helbo, Apr 17, 2011.


  1. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    Ok so I've been trying to teach Charlie to fetch since he came to live with me at 13 weeks old. He's now coming up to 10 months and this is the only thing I've tried to teach him that he just doesn't get. We've been successful less than 5 times in several months and despite making a huge huge fuss I'm pretty sure these were just by accident.

    I need help - I'd really like to play fetch with my dog.

    I play with the toy (lets say a kong wubba) and make it super exciting. Once Charlie is interested and is trying to take it from me I throw the toy and shout "Get it!". Charlie chases the toy and then either
    a) doesn't pick it up - i.e. chases it, pounces on it, and then leaves it
    b) picks it up and runs off with it/settles down to chew it
    c) picks it up, notices me trying to get him to come to me, drops the toy and comes over to me!
    If he actually picks the toy up then I'm jumping around like a mad woman shouting "Fetch" trying to look as happy and interesting as possible. I know not to look like I'm going to grab the toy so I try to use my hands to just pat my legs.

    He knows come. He'll easily give me toys when I ask for them (i.e when we're playing tug). He's in the mood to play and is very interested in the toy.



    Most of the techniques I've read require the dog to pick up the toy and for you to entice them back to you - but if he doesn't pick up the toy and just does his hunting dog chase and kill it move, or he drops the toy to come back to me, then what am I supposed to do?!


    ALL comments welcome.
     
  2. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    Duke learnt fetch from other dogs.

    I desperately wanted a fetch type of dog, I'd quite happily sit for hours and play it. (I knwo should of got a collie !)

    I tried and tried to play fetch with him and teach him but no such luck.

    He then met my step-sons GSD who likes to fetch so will bring it back, after then when he saw it chasing the ball he started to chase it.

    After a while of taking him out to the park, throwing the ball or frisbee, then me having to go and get it and throw it again he kind of got the hang of it. It was only until we started going out regularly (at least once a day) amongst dogs that knew how to retrieve, and now he does it.

    Granted he doesn't always drop it if there are dogs about, he likes them to chase him but he does alot better.

    If you can see if you can go out with a friends dog if they know how to fetch and hopefully he'll learn from the other dogs
     
  3. Colette

    Colette PetForums VIP

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    The class we took Solo to taught it the other way round, which I believe many others do as well.
    Rather than throwing the toy (leaving the dog with no idea what to do next) gt him interested in the toy, get him to sit in front of you, then get him to take the toy in his mouth. If you are clicker training at all, then you would click and treat for him taking the toy)

    We started in tiny baby steps. Literally if the dog looks at the toy, click and treat. Then if the dog touches the toy, click and treat. Then if he mouths the toy click and treat etc.... until the dog will hold the toy in front of you. Once he gets the idea you put it on cue.

    Obviously, you want the dog to play with the toy - not just do this as an obedience exercise, so once you get to him willingly holding the toy for you, then start playing with it, eg waving it around, a quick game of tug, etc. as a reward for the "fetch".

    I think it helps to look at the cue "fetch" NOT to mean "fetch the toy from over there" but instead "present the toy to me".

    So initially, this is really easy as the toy is already there. Once that first step is in place, you can put the toy on the floor rather than holding it, and get the dog to "fetch". Gradually, you can move the toy further and further until you are actually throwing it, and hopefully by this point he will know what "fetch" means, and will do so wherever the toy happens to be at the time.

    Hope that made sense, I'm not sure if I explained it too well!
     
    Helbo likes this.
  4. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    Thats an interesting way round - I was following the advice in Gwen Baileys book about how to teach fetch as it's been really easy and useful when teaching Charlie other things.

    So say Fetch and the idea is to get Charlie to pick up the toy and stay in front of me with the idea that much later on when I throw it, he'll come back to sit in front of me with the toy as this is what he thinks fetch means - what if he runs off with it?

    I don't want to end up chasing him for the toy to reset the training session - chasing him, or retrieving the toy myself is something I've avoided at all costs so far
     
  5. Statler

    Statler PetForums Member

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    Back chaining !
     
  6. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    I found step by step approach did work.

    Take toy, hold it; release on click
    Hold it longer; release on click
    Toss toy short distance, dog returns with it for a click
    As dog goes to retrieve, move away enticing, click when it catches up

    The pesky puppy incident knocked things back a bit though, because I was trying to get it poofed with one particular toy and break habits with the others.

    Now my original fetch problems, are caused by throwing forward and using the toy to control focus (much more important than perfect fetch) as it avoided early on chasing animals or cyclists/joggers. The theory that the pup brings it back to you, may work with some dogs, but if they like mine, are quite happy just to stalk the toy, or guard it waiting for it to try to run off, then you don't get the retrieve that way.

    What's irksome is first day home, he fetched to my surprise perfectly, just having watched me play it with the adult dogs in the breeders pack. I never had any trouble getting any of our dogs to fetch right before, without doing it methodically. Basically just using "Hot or Cold" method, to get the retrieve with the chasing being automatic.
     
  7. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    Retrieve is about building in value, if you can make the retrieve valuable to a dog, they will do it all day long. There's lots involved with that, but initially, I'd say for a dog that doesn't have a natural retrieve, don't give them any retrieves, just start to build value into an object. You do this by keeping one object/toy separate, picking it up every now and then, pondering about just how fabulous it is, then putting it out of reach. The actual getting the dog to bring it back is easy, but getting the dog interested, when it has no interest in toys etc, is the difficult part.
     
  8. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    That's why the step by step method, rewards for "taking" the object, even just touching it when you begin, if it doesn't want to hold it in mouth.

    The dog can value an object, but that does not mean if he's not a "retriever" that he'll bring it to you. How many dogs spot valued owner's objects and mischeviousy run off with them, to investigate them or start up a really fun game of chasey-chasey?
     
  9. lexie2010

    lexie2010 PetForums Senior

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    yeah i was going to suggest starting off not throwing the toy, but colette put the whole thing perfectly-i would try that way if i were you.
    we dont use the "fetch" command with lexie-i know we should so that we can control what she retrieves but normally we throw something and she goes and gets it, if she isnt too interested we say "go get the ...whatever it is" (she know ball/frisbee we reckon). i started her on always treating when she came back with it, sometimes just used peanut butter on my hand and she got a lick of that instead! but now she only gets treats some of time as the reward is now throwing the toy again.
    dont worry it will come :D -look how much else you have achieved and charlie is only 10mths-lexie didnt really start doing fetch with a ball until she was 12mths.
     
  10. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    Thanks for the replies guys

    Charlie has turned out to be a quick learner with an amazing temperament - I am so happy with him. Its just in the back of my mind I know he doesn't get much chance to run around and playing a fetch game in the garden (or even on the beach - the rare time we do let him off-lead) would be perfect. He certainly chases the ball - but the game ends there really :D he's definitely not a natural retriever.

    I'm going to try to teach him that fetch means to hold the object in front of me. I suspect he's going to try to run off with everything I give him at first, but we'll see how it goes.
     
  11. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    Actually I think you have my problem backwards.

    Charlie is interested in the objects i throw. He chases them, pounces on them, then settles down to chews then, runs about with them, or trots back to me because i'm asking him to. If the object is amazing he just runs off with it so he can chew the life out of it.

    The difficult part is getting him to bring this fantastic object back to me.



    Thanks for your reply though - I know it's important to make sure the dog wants to play with the object first, to look like the rubber ball you're holding is encrusted with diamonds and has temporarily sent you insane - and we only play with the balls I've bought when trying to play fetch.
     
  12. ridgeback05

    ridgeback05 PetForums Senior

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    thats hounds for you....if i throw anything for my 3 they look at me as if to say...well you threw it...you go and get it.
     
  13. loulou87

    loulou87 PetForums Junior

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    this sounds exactly like my dog! she will do exactly the same as yours, this thread has been really useful so im going to give it a try and see how we get on.
    only problem is Lia loves you to give her a squeaky toy.... then i have to listen to it!

    i only got her on saturday so trying to work out what she likes and doesnt at the moment and letting her settle in- all i know is she LOVES food!! so that is my training aid! :)
     
  14. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Have him knowing he's working, and have yummy treats in low distraction environment - You Tube - Teaching Fetch, The Ultra Methodical Approach
    By doing the kind of stuff the guy does, I often find I can get dogs interested in toys, when their owners say "(s)he doesn't like toys!".

    Might help exercise to develop another game to. I use a Tetra toy on my line (joined training leads used for leash walking), which developed out of a tug game, and now features heaving, giving, lying down, taking, stoppping, waiting, walk on (stalking), and retrieval when I sit down, toss and let go of end, all captured behaviour, entirely voluntary :)
    He likes it best on grass field, with me keeping things moving on a bicycle. Then the toy can do very intriguing things, and "run off" when I yank it, sometimes I have to ride around the dog in a circle, as he's learnt how to steer me by getting my arm behind my back!
     
    #14 RobD-BCactive, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  15. lexie2010

    lexie2010 PetForums Senior

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    Charlie is interested in the objects i throw. He chases them, pounces on them, then settles down to chews then, runs about with them, or trots back to me because i'm asking him to. If the object is amazing he just runs off with it so he can chew the life out of it.

    The difficult part is getting him to bring this fantastic object back to me.

    thinking back that was why i used a frisbee at the start rather than rope toys which she loves-she didnt really chew on the frisbee whereas if you throw a rope toy she will chew it and want to play tug (which i refuse to do as it makes her hyper!)
    try a frisbee-we are still using the really "old skool" type one that came free in a puppy pack advertising pet insurance!!! no fancy flying discs in our house :tongue_smilie:
     
  16. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    So its not fetch that you are having trouble with, its hold and give?

    This is how we teach puppies/youngsters to do a formal retrieve for competition (with a bit of tweeking if necessary):

    Have your dog on the lead on your left hand side and walk a circle. We initially use a 6-8" cardboard tube (the middle of a roll of tinfoil is ideal cut into three pieces) but any article will do.
    Have the lead in your right hand and the tube/article in your left and wave the tube about excitedly or drop it on the floor, kick it with your foot or whatever to get the dog interested so that he takes it from you or picks it up. Keep walking and take the article from the dog and give a tit-bit. Do not click or say anything because you would then be praising the dog for spitting the article out and do not stop walking and turn and face the dog because he will most certainly drop it. It does require a bit of dexterity on the handlers part...!! Repeat two or three times in each session.
    You should find that after a few days the dog is walking the circle with the article in his mouth for a longer period and you can then say "good hold" but still say nothing when you take the article, just give a titbit.
    The next step is to bring the dog into the present (sitting in front of you with the article in his mouth). We do this sitting on a chair because the puppy/youngster has already been taught a recall (sitting straight in front of the handler) on a chair. We do this by sitting on the edge of the chair (wooden or plastic dining/kitchen type) with legs stretched out in front of you to make a channel and feet flat on the floor. Toss a titbit a few feet in front of you and as puppy eats it, show him another tit-bit in your hand and say excitedly something like "whats this" and as he comes between your legs get the tit-bit on his nose and lift upwards so that his bum goes down and then give it to him.
    We don't use commands because puppies have the attention span of a gnat and we are just rewarding when they get it right and ignoring when they don't and everything at this stage is merely a suggestion.
    To put the hold and present together we again sit on the chair, have the pup on your left hand side, holding his collar or the lead and again wave the article/tube about or drop it between your outstretched legs and, with luck/God willing, etc., he will pick it up and present. Reward instantly with a tit-bit but say nothing.
    Have a go, its great fun but of course does require patience. The feeling when the dog gets what you are requiring him to do is better than winning the lottery - well almost....:smile:
     
  17. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    No progress made on fetch game at all

    Charlie just will not hold anything in his mouth for long enough for me to praise him "holding" it.

    But last night we visited a friend with her dog and he doesn't play fetch either! In fact, they can't seem to get him to do anything - so I should be glad that Charlie is usually a good learner, he just doesn't want to do this 1 thing.
     
  18. Statler

    Statler PetForums Member

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    back chaining!!!!! hold is something taught whilst watching the telly, if your dog isnt a natural, no treats required :p
     
  19. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Its down to you I'm afraid. Charlie will do it if you're patient and persistent.
     
  20. Ducky

    Ducky PetForums VIP

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    similarly to what a few others have said, i was shown a way to do it last week.

    get a pouch like toy (we actually used a glove as it was the only thing handy, but it worked).
    put food in the pouch.
    give the dog food from teh pouch whilst it sits/stands in front of u.
    after repeating this several times, now hold the pouch out to the dog until it touches it with its nose ( you can use a touch command if u have one in place)
    when the dog touches it, give them a treat.
    repeat several times.
    now, drop the pouch on the floor in front of you (i suggest it is empty at this point, otherwise they will just not bring it back and eat everything hehe)
    the dog should investigate the pouch, when it does. treat. repeat.
    next, dont treat until it picks it up in its mouth. repeat.
    throw the pouch further, and when the dog picks it up, call it back. treat.
    eventually the dog should realise that if it brings the pouch back, it gets a tit bit. after that, treats become intermittent, and eventually you might not need to use them at all. but if they are not naturally into retrieving, u may need to keep up the treating every now and again.

    you dont have to use a pouch tbh, as long as the dog knows that the object means a yummy treat to begin with.
     
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