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Well, Casey earned his CD (yeah!!). We still have work to do on heeling, but I'm enjoying starting to teach the open exercises. He seems to hate retrieving a dumbell. I've tried to season it with peanut butter etc. but he just runs up and touches it and then runs back to me. He's made a few attempts to bring it halfway back, then just comes to front. He does seem to know I want him to do something with the dumbell, but doesn't like it in his mouth. He retrieves balls etc., although never right to me--drops it about a foot out. Suggestions??
 

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what kind of dumbell are you using? Wood? Plastic? Have you checked to be sure it's properly fitted to him?
For dogs that won't retrieve, our trainers suggest breaking it into smaller steps. The going and getting it is actually the last step.
I'm assuming you don't want to do a "forced retrieve" such as an ear pinch. A lot of trainers advocate those, and it works well for some people, but I don't care for it and couldn't tell you how to do it.
The first step is getting the dog to touch the dumbell, in your hand, with his nose. Every time he touches it, YES! GOOD BOY! and a treat. Just for touching it. Move it around, tell him "touch it", and then treat when he does. They catch on to that real fast. Make it a game. Touching the dumbell is great fun!
Next step is "take it", again, while it's in your hand. You might have to pry his mouth open and slip it in. Then again, YES! GOOD BOY! and a treat just for putting his mouth around it, whether or not you had to pry his mouth open. Again, it's a wonderful game, putting his mouth on the dumbell and getting a treat for doing it.
When he's happily opening his mouth, taking the dumbell, then getting his treat right away (remember, dumbell is still in your hand) now it's time to start teaching him to hold the dumbell. First, just briefly remove your hand and tell him "HOLD IT". Very briefly. Same stuff, yes, good boy, treat for holding it just a couple seconds before you take it back again. You may have to put your hand gently under his chin the first few (or several, depending on your dog) times. EVERY time you take the dumbell back from him, even if he's pretty much spitting it out at you, tell him "OUT" or whatever your word is going to be to get him to give the dumbell back to you. That way he will have an association with that word, you're going to use it a lot in open and utility.
At this point he knows touch it, take it, and hold it. He may have some concept of "out".
Next step is putting the dumbell on the floor, with him on a leash, and telling him to touch it. Just touch it, not pick it up.
When he will go to the end of the leash and touch it reliably, now it's time to have him take it. He doesn't have to go anywhere with it, just pick it up. You may have to pry his mouth open again, bending down and putting the dumbell into his mouth from just an inch off the floor. Dont worry if he won't hold it yet, as long as he picks it up even very briefly. remember to say "out" when he drops it or you take it.
At this point he should be able to pick up a dumbell off the floor. This will come in very valuable later when you train utility!
Now for the "hold it". This is why he's on a leash... you tell him to "take it' and he picks it up. Now you say "hold it". He's right near you, so you can help him if you need to. I like to do it with the leash under his chin. This is hard to describe, but if he's got the dumbell in his mouth, and you have the leash under his chin, with gentle upward pressure on the leash it's very hard for him to drop it. Try it with a toy in his mouth a few times until you get the hang of it. (BTW, I also teach hold it with toys, just to get the concept across apart from the dumbell). Gradually increase the amount of time he holds it until he can hold it for 30 seconds or more. When you take the toy or dumbell, always say "out".
Remember, he's still just a few feet from you. Now that he can hold it for a few seconds, walk to the end of the leash, call him to come, and remind him to hold it if you have to. Lots of praise when he can do that!
Start increasing the distance he needs to travel with the dumbell in his mouth. Remind him HOLD IT HOLD IT HOLD IT if you have to. He needs to learn that he can walk and hold at the same time. That's a big concept for some dogs. He will also have to jump and hold it at the same time, too,in open, so be sure he's confident with holding and walking before you move on.
Next step is to get the sit in front with the dumbell in his mouth. Remember, you're asking your dog to put a lot of commands together. He's got to take it, hold it, come, front, and sit.
If he shows any signs of spitting it out when he sits, a gentle correction is in order because you KNOW he knows what "hold it" means. I would just tell him, "uh uh, hold it".
A very important thing, and I see people do this all the time, don't EVER reach out to him with a treat when he's coming in with the dumbell. Well of course he's going to spit it out! He's trading dumbell for treat! He's not a dumbell, lol! Wait until he's directly in front of you, then tell him "out" before he gets the treat.
Before you ever throw the dumbell, he will be confident on take it, hold it, and walking back with it. He'll know he can sit while holding it, and that you will say "out" and take it back from him.
Now you're ready to start tossing it SHORT distances, with him on leash again. If he resists the "take it" command, you've got the leash to lead him over there, pry his mouth open if you have to, tell him to "take it", "hold it", etc. When he's reliable on taking it on short tosses, start increasing your distance. You have to throw at least 20 feet for open.
This part is great fun for most of our retrieving dogs, and they love when we FINALLY throw the toy/dumbell! Now they understand what's expected of them, and you can have them "take it" and gradually fade out the other commands so that they learn that "take it" really means, go out there, pick it up, come back with it, sit in front, hold it until I say "out", then give it gently to me.
Some dogs progress thru the entire training sequence in just a couple of sessions, others take months to do it. It doesn't matter which your dog does, the end result will be the same.
Good luck!
 

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Congratulations on the CD!

Finn's breeder had a tiny but good trick - to use a metal spoon to feed a little peanut butter, babyfood whatever, to get used to the clatter/metal feeling and taste. A big wooden salad spoon . . .
 

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B.J. and the Kohana Kids
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I think hotel4dogs has a LOT more experience at this than I do, and has been a great help for me working through retrieve problems. I think she's really right and you're getting ahead of yourself.

With Paige, I started with just "take it" "hold" "give it". I would place it in her mouth, put my hand under her chin and above her mouth, and tell her "hoooold" "hold" "good hold" "yes, good girl, good hold" and then told her "give it" as I took it back. Very low key. The tossing we've only just started over the last few weeks, and all that I require of her is to go and pick it up and bring it back (no front. no finish.). But even before that, I told her to take it, I'd walk away, and I'd ask her to come, with the dumbbell still in her mouth. And before that yet, I'd give her the dumbbell and ask her to go from a stand to a sit or a sit to a stand with it in her mouth. Some dogs have trouble with that because they think they cant possibly do anything with the dumbbell in their mouth.

I also did a lot of working to give it value. I'd play with it, toss it to myself, talk to Paige and tell her "this is my toy" as I tease her with it. The dumbbell is really quite a boring object, so it has to mean something in order for the dog to want to have it in their possession.

Good luck, BJ
 

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I force fetched. However, that also involves breaking it down into little steps (teaching hold, teaching the correction, teaching them to take it from your hand at various level, teaching them to pick it up from the floor close to you, then holding/recall with it, then putting it all together and making it very fun). Little steps are important!
 
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Hotel for Dogs--thank you so much for all of the time you spent on your response to my question--I'm going to print it out and put it on the fridge. I did go through a click and treat phase for touching and putting the dumbell in his mouth, but am thinking I didn't spend enough time on this part (anxious to get to the real thing!!). I will begin again from scratch. It is the first time I've really had a hard time teaching him something new--usually it is a breeze! I haven't started doing this with my coach yet, so I'm sure that will help too. Thanks again for all of the suggestions!
Liz and Casey
 

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chew chew chew
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The other thing you can do, so that it's easier for him to learn is to use a section of dowel, so he's just working on the whole game with just the dowel at first. I may do this with Storee for now as she's thinking the ends of the dumbbell are better for her to grab and play with, till she's used to retrieving better. That way if I have to go to any sort of force work it's with that and not the dumbbell.

My first obedience dog was a dobe, he refused to pick up or look at the dumbbell, and the instructor told me he wouldn't ever retrieve. So I backchained the whole thing, came back the next week and he was the fastest retrieve in the class!

Lana
 
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