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Thread: Blind retrieves

  1. #1

    Default Blind retrieves

    What's a good way to teach a dog to do blind retrieves? He's a year old, he'll swim/run out for ducks and dummies if he sees them, but he's having a hard time just going on the retrieve command if he doesn't see something out there. How do you teach that? Is it a trust issue that is developed another way or is there a technique that specifically teaches them to go when told and to keep going until they find the bird or are called back? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Im sure youll get a professional answer on here by one of the actual trainers but for my lab I just use the fetch command when he doesnt see the bird go down or there are multiple birds. He will mark on the first bird, retrieve then come back then Ill have him face the direction of the other bird then release him on a fetch command, if he goes to far then Ill just give him a few blasts on the whistle to come back closer to me. He is still in the training stage of casting but for him the fetch command means there is something out there he needs to go find, Ill work with him and hide bumpers with a little bit of scent on them then have him fetch and hell go sniff out the bumpers. Like I said Im sure youll get a proffesional answer but thats how I get mine to blind retrieve..good luck..

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    I imagine you will get some great advice from the lab folks out there also. This is how I taught my springers to hunt dead (blind retrieve). I took him out to a field and kept him at heel - walked him out a certain distance (start short then extend) then huped him (sit for you retriever folks) and have him watch me set out a bumper. I would then use the command "gone away" and heel him back away from the bumper. I would stop at a certain distance, turn him around and set him up for the retrieve (hup, line him with my hand) then use the command that you want him to learn to hunt dead. I usually say, "dead bird" then "back!" He runs to the bumper and brings it back. I increase the distance over time. Also after field work I like to take the last bird and do this with him, hup him, throw in the bird saying "gone away" then we heel clear back to the truck and then I set him up and send him back for the bird (sometimes over 100 yards) - he loves this. Blind retrieves are a matter of trust and repatition - he learns that when you send him there is always something there. Now I have to move my lessons to the water this spring - hopefully I can find some retriver people to help me out on this one. Have fun!

  4. #4

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    Ok, thanks. I give him the command "stay", walk out and drop the dummy, go back to where he's at, heel him, then give him the command "duck". He'll go retrieve it.

    He's still not at the point where he'll take off into the great unknown at the command "duck" and direction.

  5. #5
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    I will have my boy mark on either a live bird or a bumper and release him with his name. If he doesnt see the bird or doing a blind retreive I use the fetch command. If your dog is watching you place the bumper and you use "duck" then he is associating "duck" with something he knows is there and sees it, you might want to use another command that he can get custom to knowing that he must go find it without seeing it. Like I said with mine when he sees it I release on his name and when he doesnt its fetch.

  6. #6
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    bowshooter's advice is very good - use a different command for the blind retrieve. For my springer it is "dead bird" then "back"- "fetch" would work too. Keep repeating the lesson and he will get it. If he seems confused back up a step in training.

  7. #7

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    wow you just blew my mind...

    That must be why my dog looks at me like "are you serious, you didn't shoot or throw anything"

    I'll have to think up a command for the blind retrieve, not sure if "dead bird" will work...my wife got bored while I was at work and taught him "dead dog" and he rolls over on his back and groans. Funny but...

  8. #8
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    That "dead dog" command would be great in the field around freinds! I've heard some funny commands for hunt dead in the past such as the dog's name, "fetch", "blind" "dead", "find", and my all time favorite "bag it!" (and the dog did!).

  9. #9

    Default Blind Retrieves

    You need to have a retriever that is sharp on obedience too include stopping to a whistle and for me a thorough Force Fetch program. Plus collar conditioned. There are a number of drills that are done to build your retriever to running what is called "Cold Blinds".
    Here is the progression:
    Lining Drills...... You need to be able to get your dog to face the direction you want to send him/her. You will use "here" and "heel" to get the dog to line up initially. Then you can actually use your leg and foot placement to fine line. You can push or pull your dogs head by just moving your feet and legs back and forth. It's sort of an art, but a blast to use with your dog. You must communicate to your dog when they are looking in the right direction as well as the wrong direction. When they are looking in the right direction I say "Good" or "That's it in a low tone. There ears will perk up and some dogs I work with will lean forward on the shoulders bracing to be sent. Pups I start with white bumpers 180 degrees apart on low golf course type terrain. Bumpers must be visible to your dog. I also use the "back" command to send the dog on the retrieve. Once your dog picks up the bumper have them heel at your side take the bumper then throw it back where it was. Then you and dog turn 180 to pick up the next one. Later in training you can progress to wagon wheel patterns. Where instead of 2 bumpers you put out 4 , 6 , 8 or more depending on how advanced into this drill your dog has progressed.
    Single T.......
    You need to have an introduction to casting as well. If your dog goes the wrong direction you have no way of stopping your dog if they don't sit to a whistle. Once your dog is sitting then you can cast with hand and and arm signal to get them to the correct direction.
    Line to pile.....
    The previous info will work if you train alone. Just walk out and drop your white bumpers then gradually start moving back to increase the distance. Be ready to move up and remark the pile with a bumper from your back pocket if needed. Simplify, simplify if needed. Your starting distance should be about as far as you can throw the bumper. The distance you increase out to depends on your dog and the number of drills it takes to build you dog to that distance. Field trial dogs need to run out to 400 yds sometimes.
    Well gotta go for now. I'll get back and finish up with other thoughts I have.

  10. #10
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    An excellent book is "Training Retrievers to Handle" by D.L. & Ann Walters. It's available at http://www.gundogsupply.com/trainrettoha.html or http://www.lcsupply.com/Product/Book...to-Handle.html It's well worth the approx. $25 & cheaper by far at these places than at Amazon. There are some good articles by Evan Graham online at http://www.rushcreekpress.com/page6articles.html, but D.L. & Ann Walters' book can't be beat IMO.

    Karen Wilson

  11. #11

    Default Bling

    The method I used to teach my Golden and am now using on my new lab comes from "Gun Dog" which is a great old book on training. It's called baseball and it's quite simple. The first step is having the dog well trained in the stay command-don't attempt this if you're not at that point-you will both be frustrated! You position the dog at pitcher's mound-you are at home plate. Throw the bumper to first base. When the dog finally takes his eyes off the bumper and looks back at you (with that "What's up look?")-you lift your right hand (pointing to the right-dogs left) and yell "Over". Do this enough and the dog will learn that when you point in a direction and yell "Over" he/she is to go in that direction. Next you throw to third base and repeat-lift your left arm etc. It's truely amazing how quickly they will learn. Then you mix it up and throw one to second base-lift your arm straight up-pointing to the sky and yell "Back". If you work on this enough the dog will-as mine now does-go in any direction you want him too with hand signals and either the over or back command. The real test comes when you throw a bumper to first base and then give a command to go to third base. As long as you always make sure that there is (or will be) a bumper where you send your dog he will follow your commands all day. I often will do a "Back, Over (right), Over (Left), Back etc. and finally either throw or have him end up where I previous hid a bumper. But the real joy is to have a dog that will cross an icy creek, stop on the whisle, follow a command to go right, then back, then left etc. until he finds the duck that you saw fall but he/she didn't.

    Hope this helps.
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

  12. #12

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    Continuation............
    I hope what I mentioned earlier can get you started and give you an idea on what to work on. There are so many different drills that can be used to build your retriever to running cold blinds. I didn't mention them all. Force to Pile, mini T, Single T, Walking Baseball, Double T, Pattern Blinds, Cold blind transition drills just to name a few. I have three folders of notes on what to use for different personalities of dogs. You always start with things that are visible to them. Go step by step by step. They learn quicker this way and they learn to trust the direction you are sending them. They will be rewarded when they are successful at getting to the destination and getting the bumper. There are casting drills and handling drills from all sorts of publications. Most any retriever club has a library of resources.

    REMEMBER this is a team effort. You and your dog need to be on the same page. So a dog working for himself does not have a good foundation of obedience to start "blind" training.
    I'm available to help you get started for those interested.

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