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Do you understand force fetch; it's goals, purposes, and processes?

  • Yes, I understand all of that completely

    Votes: 12 27.3%
  • I understand the part about hand delivery and fetching on command

    Votes: 3 6.8%
  • I think I understand parts of it

    Votes: 12 27.3%
  • I don't understand it

    Votes: 17 38.6%
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Discussion Starter #1
Do you believe you have a clear understanding of force fetch; it's goals, purposes, processes?

EvanG
 

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Yes, I feel that I understand the goals and methods of Force Fetch. I had one golden who did very well on force fetch, another who was just about ruined by force fetching - the 'pro' said he 'wasn't tough enough' and 'needed to stay out of the kitchen since he could not stand the heat'...this after making my peaceful, loving Rowdy a nervous and skittish dog who took 4 years of positive training to get back into the ring.

So, I have seen both sides of force fetch and have decided I would rather stay out of the kitchen than have another beautiful golden on the 'washed out' list. Was the pro wrong? Yes, certainly he should have known to ease up but I too was wrong in listening to the advise that every dog needs to be force fetch trained, and not changing trainers way sooner.
 

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I have no clue and not afraid to admit it! I do want to teach my dogs the proper way to fetch. I also believe the words "force fetch" are a misnomer. Just my opinion.

I plan to get the training series from our OP, and I plan to contact a local trainer for some help too.
 

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To tell you the truth, anything forced sounds wrong but would love to learn more about it!.
I appreciate your willingness to learn! I understand your aversion to force. Many people initially react to the word “force” being paired with “dog training” until they come to better understand the subject. To that end this thread is dedicated.

Let’s begin by clearing up a vitally important issue, which will be expanded upon a bit later.

Force: 1 – compel, 2 – influence that causes motion, 3 – gain against resistance (may compel or correct behavior in dogs)

By definition, if you blow out a candle on your birthday cake, you will have ‘forced’ it to go out. The word “force” does not imply an amount. But there is a pervasive knee jerk reaction to that word being synonymous with brutality, pain or harm. Not so, and certainly not necessarily so in the force fetch process. That will come as news to some. More on this later.
Yes, I feel that I understand the goals and methods of Force Fetch. I had one golden who did very well on force fetch, another who was just about ruined by force fetching - the 'pro' said he 'wasn't tough enough' and 'needed to stay out of the kitchen since he could not stand the heat'...this after making my peaceful, loving Rowdy a nervous and skittish dog who took 4 years of positive training to get back into the ring.
Sharon,

Thanks for sharing that story. It says several things that can be valuable to many people. First, I submit that your second dog was not so much “just about ruined by force fetching”, but rather was just about ruined by an inflexible or under-qualified pro. If I manage to do nothing else in this discussion, I hope to dispel some long-standing erroneous notions about force fetch.
So, I have seen both sides of force fetch and have decided I would rather stay out of the kitchen than have another beautiful golden on the 'washed out' list. Was the pro wrong? Yes, certainly he should have known to ease up but I too was wrong in listening to the advise that every dog needs to be force fetch trained, and not changing trainers way sooner.
I hope to successfully illustrate yet another side of force fetch; the accurate one. There are, at present, three distinct schools of thought on force fetch; its goals, purposes, and mechanisms.

1. Play at it. Just kid or trick the dog into picking up something and holding onto it. This is not force fetch at all, but one author writes about it as though it is.
2. Old school FF: Involves applying overwhelming force – even to the point of pain – which the dog cannot resist. The result is a reliable fetch on command, and sometimes a ruined dog.
3. ‘New School’; a conditioning process, in which the dog literally determines the amount of pressure. The process begins with virtually no pressure. That level gradually increases until the trainer reads that the dog is experiencing some form of annoyance or discomfort (not necessarily pain) that he or she would like to go away. The trainer shows the dog that having the fetch object in its mouth is what makes the annoyance stop, and the process has begun. There are many steps to this, as it’s a conditioning process, and not a war of man vs. dog.

Clearly, there will be much more discussion. But we can proceed in a constructive direction based on this, or upon any further ideas or questions.

EvanG
 

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Hmmmm. Don't really get it.

My dogs retrieve on command.
Mine too. Every one, every time, in every circumstance; mark or blind. In all conditions, all terrain, all distances up to and beyond 500 yards, if needed. Doubles, triples, quads, an occasional quint + blind combinations. They also handle like sports cars, cast off land into water, out of the suction of poison birds...in other words, they have all the tools. Being lucky and being smart are not the same things. 30+ years and several hundred retreivers have taught me that being smart is worth the effort.

But, it will depend whether you choose to be as trainable as your dogs. This will not only determine your ability to understand what force fetch is, but what vital role it plays in bringing out the best in each retriever.

I'm pulling for intellectual curiosity! :wavey:

EvanG
 

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I had a question on terminology. I find that when trainers talk about using pain or aversive methods with dogs, they often use a euphemism. Is it fair to characterize "pressure" as a euphemism here for "discomfort" or "pain?" When you say the trainer determines the amount of "pressure," could we substitute "discomfort" and still be accurate, or would there be situations in which you'd consider something "pressure" that wasn't at all uncomfortable or painful for the dog?

Another example of this principle is the use of the word "nick" in e-collar training instead of "shock."

I realize these questions might sound like a bit of a trap, but I really am sincerely curious.
 

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I thought I would add that while the most common method of force fetch seems to be an ear pinch, it does not necessarily have to be that. Anything that you can use to tell your dog that he has to retrieve, it's not optional, can be considered a forced fetch. Other common forms of force fetch include a collar twist or an e-collar. There are still other forms out there.My dogs pretty much have a "forced" everything. No, I don't pinch their ear for anything other than retrieving, but I do have a way to "make" or "force" them to do something. If they don't follow a command, there is a consequence. For example, if they don't sit, I will either put pressure on their rear, or pull up on the leash. Some people say their dog is too soft or stresses too much for a forced retrieve, but I find that these dogs need a forced retrieve the most. A dog is more likely to stress when it thinks it has options. If you make it black and white that it is not optional, then the dog will usually be much happier about performing.
 

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tippykayak writes: <<I had a question on terminology. I find that when trainers talk about using pain or aversive methods with dogs, they often use a euphemism. Is it fair to characterize "pressure" as a euphemism here for "discomfort" or "pain?" When you say the trainer determines the amount of "pressure," could we substitute "discomfort" and still be accurate, or would there be situations in which you'd consider something "pressure" that wasn't at all uncomfortable or painful for the dog?>>

Well the term "pressure" as relating directly to FF and collar conditioning certainly does mean discomfort. But the underlying foundation that these training techniques build is a generalized ability to deal with ANY kind of "pressure." And yes -- in field work -- there are lots of forms of "pressure" that are not at all uncomfortable for the dog. In my opinion, in advanced work, "pressure" comes from a lot of angles at the dog, and his goal is to avoid, deflect from, ignore or otherwise work over these pressures and do what his handler wants. So much of teaching in field work, mainly on blinds but certainly marks too, is getting through to the dog that YOU NEED TO DO IT MY WAY -- NOT YOURS!!! In blinds, the HANDLER knows where the bird is. But the DOG "thinks" he knows where it is until he's been trained to follow directions. All of the factors that the dog wants to naturally follow to find the bird (scent, areas of old falls, shores, sound, etc) are areas of pressure he must avoid or ignore to successfully follow the handler's direction to the blind. These are GOOD pressures -- the dog WANTS to go to them! But he must have the fortitude and gumption to ignore them and go where sent by the handler. The foundation of controlling impulse and acting on behalf of the handler, all while maintaining a stylish attitude, are set in the basics of FF. "Do what I say, you get what you want."

<<Another example of this principle is the use of the word "nick" in e-collar training instead of "shock.>>

Not really. We say "nick" to distinguish it from a "burn." Collars generally have two settings, you can give a "nick" (short zap) on the momentary setting, or a "burn" (longer zap) on the continuous setting. I would say most people use a nick when training as opposed to a burn, hence calling a collar correction a nick.

<<I realize these questions might sound like a bit of a trap, but I really am sincerely curious.>>

No prob, hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I had a question on terminology. I find that when trainers talk about using pain or aversive methods with dogs, they often use a euphemism. Is it fair to characterize "pressure" as a euphemism here for "discomfort" or "pain?"
I actually addressed this above, but I'll be happy to provide further clarity. The word “force” does not imply an amount. But there is a pervasive knee jerk reaction to that word being synonymous with brutality, pain or harm. Not so, and certainly not necessarily so in the force fetch process. That will come as news to some.

As you read anything I write on the subject of dog training, you will note that I don't tend to mince words. I'm not using one word, while meaning another. There are dogs that are more resistant to accepting the will of a trainer than others, and sometimes that means that they'll require pressure to rise to a point of actually being painful. We can certainly discuss those instances, but bear in mind that they are not the rule. They are the exception.
When you say the trainer determines the amount of "pressure," could we substitute "discomfort" and still be accurate, or would there be situations in which you'd consider something "pressure" that wasn't at all uncomfortable or painful for the dog?
Force: 1 – compel, 2 – influence that causes motion, 3 – gain against resistance (may compel or correct behavior in dogs)

When I say "pressure", that's the correct context. When I say "pain", I'm referring to its correct context: –noun 1.physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.2.a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain. 3.mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.

I do not teach anyone to torment or injure a dog. If that's happening to your dog, it isn't correct or necessary. As I said, there are rare exceptions, but I mean rare. Now that I am no longer a pro, and only train my own dogs, if I meet one requiring that much pressure, he's done. He can be someone's pet. I like bright, sensitive, eager dogs, and will not live with one I have to train through pain.
Another example of this principle is the use of the word "nick" in e-collar training instead of "shock."

I realize these questions might sound like a bit of a trap, but I really am sincerely curious.
The term "shock" is rather broad and general. We aren't talking about physically harmful amounts of electricity, such as one would encounter from a wall outlet. More correctly, we're talking about measured amounts of low quality electrical stimulus. I use the best e-collar there is; the Tri Tronics G3 Pro 500. I also have a G2 Pro 500. they allow me maximal variation in intensity of stimulus. They also allow me to choose 'nicks' (pre-measured momentary applications), or so-called 'burns' (a completely erroneous reference, except that the stimulus is applied continuously as long as the button is depressed). In addition, one of the greatest aspects of these units is a 'low' - 'medium' - 'high' selection of each of 6 levels of intensity. The majority of our dogs work on levels 1 & 2, and we hand test all our collars so we know exactly what we're delivering.

EvanG
 

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No, I don't think I understand the method completely and to be fair to it I think I would need to see it done under a skilled and qualified professional to have an accurate opinion. The problem is, it certainly sound like there is much room for error and there are probably a lot more so-so trainers than wonderful ones out there (But that is only speculation, I don't know that one either).

I would like to throw out there (any maybe this should be another thread) this question: What makes a good force-fetcher over a bad one? Do they put too much pressure on, is it the tools they are using?

I would love to learn about options too. As much as I want to have an open mind, I feel numb at the thought of pinching my dog's toe, nicking her with a collar, or pinching her ear. I have no problem correcting her for incorrect behavior (pop on the collar) and I rather like what Louisianna said--twisting the collar as a form of pressure. Hmmm...
 

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When I say "pressure", that's the correct context. When I say "pain", I'm referring to its correct context: –noun 1.physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.2.a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain. 3.mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.

I do not teach anyone to torment or injure a dog. If that's happening to your dog, it isn't correct or necessary. As I said, there are rare exceptions, but I mean rare. Now that I am no longer a pro, and only train my own dogs, if I meet one requiring that much pressure, he's done. He can be someone's pet. I like bright, sensitive, eager dogs, and will not live with one I have to train through pain.
You didn't really answer the question. When you say "pressure," you often mean causing physical discomfort, right? You say you're not tormenting dogs, and I believe that, but I consider an ear pinch or a toe hitch the use of discomfort. I see the point in distinguishing that from "pain" in training, but an ear pinch is absolutely a "distressing sensation in a particular part of the body."
 

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You didn't really answer the question. When you say "pressure," you often mean causing physical discomfort, right?
In my analogy about blowing out a candle, I referenced that as an application of force (pressure). If someone blew the same puff of air at you as at that candle, do you think it would qualify as 'discomfort'? If you pushed a pencil off the edge of a table, that would be an application of pressure. But if someone used the same amount of pressure and pushed against your shoulder (for example), do you think that would quaify as 'discomfort'.
You say you're not tormenting dogs, and I believe that, but I consider an ear pinch or a toe hitch the use of discomfort.
How much pressure? What I'm telling you is that 'pressure' and 'force' do not imply or specify and amount. It is the amount of pressure that each dog will determine as being uncomfortable or not. That is what you must read, and it's pretty simple.
I see the point in distinguishing that from "pain" in training, but an ear pinch is absolutely a "distressing sensation in a particular part of the body."
I think you're making an assumption that "an ear pinch" comes with a pre-determined amount of pressure that represents 'discomfort'. It does not. I've finished many dogs that clearly only regarded the amount of pressure used on them as an annoyance. Each one is different. I think you need to see some of the close up video in SmartFetch to see the 'reads'; just a shift in the eyebrows, or eye position - a distinct, however small change in the dog's demeanor that tells you he would like this new sensation to go away. I'm not talking about dogs writhing in pain, as some trainers have done for decades.

EvanG
 

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Evan,

In the early stages of non-shaped fetch training, the mouth is opened and the object (dumbbell, bumper etc) is placed in the dogs mouth. This may take effort and then a finger could be placed under the chin to remind the dog to hold the object.

Would you consider this pressure? I think it could be considered mental pressure more than physical pressure, but pressure still.
 

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I think you're making an assumption that "an ear pinch" comes with a pre-determined amount of pressure that represents 'discomfort'. It does not. I've finished many dogs that clearly only regarded the amount of pressure used on them as an annoyance. Each one is different. I think you need to see some of the close up video in SmartFetch to see the 'reads'; just a shift in the eyebrows, or eye position - a distinct, however small change in the dog's demeanor that tells you he would like this new sensation to go away. I'm not talking about dogs writhing in pain, as some trainers have done for decades.

No matter how you do it, it's falling w/in the realm of negative reinforcement. It's using something the animal chooses to work to avoid. In obedience, I've seen people do it well, and I've seen people do it horribly, abusively poorly.

I think it takes a very skilled trainer to learn to look for the shift of the eyebrow and other subtle changes on the part of the dog. There are, IMO, very few "pet owners" ("pet owners" who train their dogs vs. people who train for a living) who are naturally that skilled. The danger (again, IMO) is in putting tools of negative reinforcement in the hands of non-professionals who may not REALLY understand the full training process or the time involved. In their desire to achieve results quickly (as a species, we're "results oriented") people can take what should be a simple, non- pain-causing technique and rachet it up thinking they'll achiave the result faster. (Analogy: "If it takes 9 hours to cook the turkey at 300 degrees, let's fire the oven up to 600 degrees and eat in 4.5!")

THAT, IMO, is where the problem lies - the proof of which is in peoples' comments about dogs being "ruined" by a force fetch program.

For that reason, it makes me uncomfortable when I see it so casually tossed out as the answer to all retrieving problems. Evan: How many people do you think are going to rush right out now and buy your instructional DVD? Some will, sure. Others will not, but may consider trying an ear pinch on their own. What are the odds that they'll truly get it right? How will the dog pay the price if they don't? Heck, how will the concept pay the price if they don't?
 

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Evan,

In the early stages of non-shaped fetch training, the mouth is opened and the object (dumbbell, bumper etc) is placed in the dogs mouth. This may take effort and then a finger could be placed under the chin to remind the dog to hold the object.

Would you consider this pressure? I think it could be considered mental pressure more than physical pressure, but pressure still.
Yes, this is the "Hold" phase, and logically comes first. We teach the dog to hold what's been placed in his mouth until commanded to release. During this phase they are introduced to small corrections for chewing, dropping, etc. It certainly is an application of pressure; both physical and mental. Normally, both are in very low amounts. It's more a matter of conditioning than forcing these behaviors. But they are supported by pressure.

Stephanie,

You seem determined to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Force fetch is evil and brutal because of how badly some people have applied it. That flies in the face of reason.

People have driven cars badly, but I'll bet you drive anyway. People have flown airplanes wrong, but people still fly anyway. More people are killed each year with baseball bats than with guns. Are 3-day waiting periods for ball bat purchases in our future?:doh:

It's not the process. Hold the people accountable. If someone ruins a dog with force fetch, they would have ruined them in some other way without it. Performing FF is not like surgery. It's not like handling nitroglycerine, either. You have to screw this up, and that's most often because someone did it with a "me vs. the dog" attitude, and that attitude will eventually permeate other areas of their work with dogs.

Sorry, this doesn't wash.

EvanG
 

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In my analogy about blowing out a candle, I referenced that as an application of force (pressure). If someone blew the same puff of air at you as at that candle, do you think it would qualify as 'discomfort'?
Of course not, but in terms of application of "pressure" to a dog, why does it work if it isn't unpleasant in any way? Obviously you don't have to cause the dog serious pain, but this kind of "pressure" needs to be unpleasant so the dog wants it to stop. If he wants the sensation to go away, it's because it's uncomfortable. I think "annoyed" is an odd way to describe a dog who isn't enjoying an ear pinch. We can argue about whether it's "annoyance" or "discomfort," but we're talking about a physical stimulus the dog doesn't like and is trying to avoid.

I know you've heard me argue about the use of aversives generally in dog training before, but I'm really asking for the clarification of terms here, not building an anti-FF argument. I've seen the application of aversives work really well in the hands of experts, and while I'm not sure I would agree with every application you might suggest, I'm also not saying there is no situation in which it's warranted, particularly if it is applied with a great deal of skill.

I do think it's totally unnecessary to use physical aversives when doing basic obedience like come, heel, sit, down, fetch, etc. I also know it's possible to achieve incredible precision and reliability through positive reinforcement. Even so, I wouldn't say that you're off base here, and I would like to understand force fetching really, really well, even if I never use it.

I think we can all agree that by the time the dog is crying out, writhing, or panicking, too much pain has been applied, right?
 

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Stephanie,

You seem determined to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Force fetch is evil and brutal because of how badly some people have applied it. That flies in the face of reason.

People have driven cars badly, but I'll bet you drive anyway. People have flown airplanes wrong, but people still fly anyway. More people are killed each year with baseball bats than with guns. Are 3-day waiting periods for ball bat purchases in our future?:doh:

It's not the process. Hold the people accountable. If someone ruins a dog with force fetch, they would have ruined them in some other way without it. Performing FF is not like surgery. It's not like handling nitroglycerine, either. You have to screw this up, and that's most often because someone did it with a "me vs. the dog" attitude, and that attitude will eventually permeate other areas of their work with dogs.

Sorry, this doesn't wash.

EvanG
And you seem determined to completely miss anything I say that speaks to an understanding that yes, SOME people can implement a "good" FF program while others, IMO, (the vast majority of others) have more problems with it.

I did not call it evil, or brutal. I said some people use it in that manner. And it has absolutely nothing to do with baseball bats or driving cars.

I think FF is often mis-used. I think it would take an extreme amount of education combined with a general shift in human nature (desire for wanting results quickly = escalation of the aversive in many handlers) for FF programs to gain a better reputation.

Just curious: What % of people out there do you think mess up a FF program?
 

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I think we can all agree that by the time the dog is crying out, writhing, or panicking, too much pain has been applied, right?
Actually, I'd say the crying out part is true most of the time, but there are some dogs who are just very vocal when they are in a situation they don't like. I have a small dog who screams anytime I attempt to restrain him if he wants to be doing something else. So, if I put a hand in his collar, or hold a paw, he sounds like I'm killing him, but I'm not really causing any pain at all.You can squeeze your own ear to see the different amounts of pressure that you can apply. It can vary anywhere from just fingers on the ear to gently squeezing to pinching with nails digging in. If someone took hold of my ear, even if they didn't squeeze it, I'd find it really annoying. At first I might try my own ways of getting the hand off, including pushing the person away, yelling at them, etc. Eventually, I'd get tired of it and just do whatever it was they wanted me to do, even though I wasn't in pain, just annoyed and ready to get that person off my ear.
 
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