Lack of drive on blind retrieve
This is my first post. I have a 7 month old black lab. I got her late just about 2 months ago. The breader claimes she has super strong drive to retrieve. She is steady to shot and charges out for marked retrieves. I am now trying to teach the blind retrieve. She will fetch on command on the walk up drill. The problem is when i give the back command or any version thereof IE Fetch, Back, Pearl, Pearl Back or even GO, she just gives this lazy trot to the dummy. I'm not 100% sure how to "force to a pile". I used a light ear pinch to force fetch. She is collar conditioned to "FETCH" "SIT" and "HERE". I tried a nick with the collar to get her moving but that has done nothing.
How do I get her to charge off the line on blind retrieves like she does on marks. I have been working with her for about a week on lining drills, back to a pile off heal and the wagon wheel. She learned both games in less than 15 minutes, but is very lazy getting to the pile or single bumper. I am working very short distances right now under 30 yards.
I trained my other lab a Yellow, he is now 6 years old. I never ever had an effort problem with him. Right from the day I got him a 4 months old he was psycho to retrieve. In fact I remember the very first "BACK" command I gave him he took off so hard he blasted right past the bumper placed 20 yards away. Im sure he would have gone at that speed for a mile
Pearl, I had the same problem with my lab. He didn't take to blind retrieves until he was almost 3, despite my best attempts. With a young dog, lots of times they just don't put it all together right away. I wouldn't rush her too much - just keep trying it and don't over do it. A few times here and there are plenty, as long as you make sure it is a rewarding experience. If she gets her ears pinched or nicked, she may not find it fun. Try running back away on from her when she retrieves the blind dummy until she gets the idea that she has to come all the way back to the pile. Maybe try firing a blank while she is distracted, then send her out to find the dummy. Even if she won't take a line right off the bat, just getting her out in the general direction of the blind is the first step.
I tried to force all this with my dog, and I am pretty positive I made his training way harder than it should have been. With young pups, they have to enjoy the task before they really get the specifics down. It took me a lot of work to make him even want to do blinds after trying to pressure him into something he was not ready for. Just my observations.
Force Fetch when done properly will build momentum. It gives them incentive and a quicker response to the retrieve command. The word "fetch" now comes a reinforceable command.
You say she is collar conditioned to fetch but I wonder to what extent. Formal force to me means retrieving off the floor with and without pressure. No matter what I put in front of them. Birds ,bumpers ,bottles ,flashlights ,my hat and on and on.
I feel that you need to go back to FF and bring her through it again. Make sure she understands that the quicker she retrieves the quicker the pressure is off. The dogs that go through here are forced while I'm holding the item and gradually work them til I am forcing them to retrieve off the floor. I do all this indoors and will even do a mini pile indoors to do some force to pile. Then I transition to the training yard.
Now keep in mind you are developing a working attitude. Don't over do the pressure. Some dogs, like your previous dog, don't mind or care if they are running a blind or a mark. Other dogs, maybe like the one you have now, are a bit softer. These dogs take a different approach to maintain a good attitude while learning yard drills. They may not like the word "back" they may leave the line a little slow because they lack confidence. You've really gotta take your time with them. You also need to balance there training by running marks. They may even learn better about handling by relating it to marks. I'll leave that for discussion later once your pup gets to that point.
Think of it this way. When you taught "sit" you were looking for a quick response. Not a slow casual motion sitting when the dog feels like it. You taught the dog to sit promptly when commanded. It's the same mind set for FF. Just there is a lot more mechanical steps to make it easier for the dog to learn.
I tried to PM you but since you're new I guess you can't receive any.
Feel free to email me or call. I'd like to talk with you about your training.
Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers
Thanks, I will go back to the force fetch. Pearl will fetch MOST items on command but not ALL. Your point about the "SIT" command put it in a whole new light for me. I only use a light ear pinch, should I keep going until she tries to "beat" the pressure? Something funny, when I'm force fetching her she will avoid me and try to get to the pile before I can grab her ear. But not full blast if you know what I mean. Do you think I should get her back on the table even though she will readily fetch from the ground?
This is my first force fetch. My yellow is so insane to retrieve I only ever had to enforce the "HOLD" command with him. He is six and to this day was never "force fetched". I'm sure he is by far the exception to the rule. He is a fantastic hunting partner and my best buddy.
Thanks again for the advise. I'm back to forcing on the Ladder Drill and Pearl is starting to pick up the pace substantially. I'll keep with it for another week with just the choak collar and then another week with the e-collar.
A couple of things that come to mind.
First find yourself some good literature or videos about Force work. Mike Lardy or Evan Graham have great videos that cover the steps. Showing a dog in the process. Plus these videos will give you a step by step training program to follow. It's important to follow a program. One step builds on another.
I personally would finish your force work on the table. That includes collar pressure. If the ladder drill you mention is the same that I use from time to time(depends on the dog). I consider that a drill to run after all force work on the table and off the floor indoors is complete. Outside drills would be walking fetch, FTP, wagon wheel and etc.
Here again dogs that don't like "back" and get a little nervous about drill work. You need to find balance and create a good attitude. During your drill work you may need to throw some fun bumpers once in a while just to get them going again. Breaking up the drill blues for say so you can get a few more reps out of them on the drill at hand.
I do drill work in the morning and then balance things out with field marks in the afternoon. Works good for me cause that's when my bird throwers are most available. Lol
Dan DeVos, Canadian pro talked about balance as Baron mentions. One thing I found with the doodle is he loves to retrieve when it's live, meaning a thrown bumper if it's the first or the third mark as in a triple. I also noticed he responded to being rewarded with a throw. Before we got this crappy weather I had him running a 20, 30, and 40 yard sight blind followed by heeling, turning and getting a throw, after every blind. I didn't necessarily make it happy. He has to return to heel, sit, hold and give. There was some hesitation. In some cases I let him think it through not moving or saying anything more. In some I moved up again closer but he never got a throw unless he did the blind. I 'm going to plant dead birds at the blind to see if that makes a difference and I have a live stray pigeon who is living in our garage and has been a good sport being a "hold" training item. The reward of play after each completed command is something done a lot in other dog sports especially Flyball which is essentially a blind retrieve with jumps and a spring loaded box of balls.