This is the second part of the Totally Gundogs Clicker Trained Retrieve.
The objective of this stage is to finish up with a dog that lifts the dummy clear of the ground, and then spits it out again.
There needs to be a least a moment during which no part of the dummy is touching the ground for you to be certain that you have completed this stage, and the dog must have let go of the dummy of his own free will.
What if the dog won’t let go of the dummy?
On no account get involved in a wrestling match with your dog over the dummy! Some dogs seem to have trouble letting go of the dummy once they have it in their mouths. Other dogs are actually ‘possessive’ over the dummy and don’t want to share it with you (or anyone else) This stage in training overcomes both these obstacles.
Stages in Part Two
Here are the stages you will pass through in order to reach your objective.
- Nudging or pushing the dummy
- Grasping the dummy with open mouth
- Lifting any part of the dummy off the ground
- Lifting the whole dummy off the ground
Some dogs will go straight to lifting the whole dummy off the ground, and that is fine. But you must ensure that the dog spits out the dummy to go and collect the treat that you have thrown.[wp_ad_camp_1]Throw the treat well away from the dummy to give the dog an opportunity to deliberately return for another go.
If your dog is reluctant to spit out the dummy try again with juicier, tastier, treats when he is properly hungry.
You won’t be tied to the treats for the rest of your days.
This is just a way to establish the trained response we are looking for.
Here are your steps
- Place the dummy on the floor
- C&T for a nose touch
- C&T for a more sustained and determined interaction with the dummy. E.g. when you get a longer nose touch, or a double nose touch or any movement of the dummy
- C&T for any ‘open mouthed’ contact with the dummy
- C&T for deliberate ‘grasping’ of the dummy by the dog’s mouth
- C&T for any action which results in the dummy being lifted off the ground at either end
- C&T for higher lifts of the dummy at either end
- C&T only when the dummy clears the ground completely
At each step you are becoming more selective in your requirements, but at no point should you keep pushing on with this process if the dog is not earning C&Ts regularly.
If the dog stops earning clicks, back up with your criteria for a while before raising the bar again.
Next time we will be teaching the dog to hold on to that dummy for several seconds!
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Your insight has been great and it’s nice to finally find someone who is willing to teach positive gun dog training. My problem is that my 5 month old lab pup will lie down and chew the dummy. So I started offering it from my hand. Is this ok to do? Also, now I’m having trouble where sometimes she’ll grab it from my hand and immediately lie down and start chewing. What should I do to stop this?
Firstly, I just want to thank you for your approach to dog training and all of the wonderful resources you’ve developed, they’ve been immensely helpful! (I now own both of your books.)
I have a 6 month old springer spaniel and she is doing wonderfully. She usually catches on really quickly, and is always keen for a clicker training game (she is tremendously food motivated). For some reason, however, she isn’t catching on to the open mouth/grasping stage of the dummy pick up. She gets that she needs to nose it around for increasing periods, but isn’t attempting to involve her mouth. I was wondering if you might have any recommendations for how to help/encourage her to use her mouth?
Sorry Julie, I missed this comment. I’m glad you have found the resources here helpful. Moving the goalposts for the dog is usually a question of waiting him out. Reinforce what he is able to do a few times, then just wait and watch as he tries to earn the treat by trying something different. How are you getting on with the pick up now?
We have a 19th month old Brittany who I’m trying to clicker train – he is not good at retrieval as just either ends up chewing the dummy or running around with it. It only took one session for him to keep going back to the dummy but now he just sits there chewing it apart – I’ve not clicked for this and trying to get him to hold the dummy. What would you advise?
Hi Richard, he can’t chew the dummy and eat the treat at the same time. So, you need to be right up close to him in a confined space. Don’t try and build up the hold too quickly. Just click and treat for a touch, then a grasp, then a lift. Keep his interaction with the dummy very short, and right in front of you. If he isn’t letting go, he needs to be hungry, and you need to use much better treats (try roast chicken) and get the food right on the end of his nose. As he gets better at picking up and releasing the dummy, you may find it easier to build a hold with him on the move. You can see how I did this with Rachael in my video. I’ll find the link for you. Pippa
Richard Houghton says
really interesting and i tried it with my dog as although he’ll retrieve really well he won’t bring the dummy back and insists on standing off or running about. He’s 14months ESS. At stage 2 all he does is pick up the dummy and run around chewing it and doesn’t appear interested in the treats, no matter what they are. concerned that waiting for him to spit it out, which he showed absolutely no intent on doing is just going to fuel his intent not to release it? is it worth continuing with this in the absence of a treat that he likes.
What are you using for treats Richard, and where are you training?