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Discussion Starter #1
I am in obedience class and my trainer said to me "Do you want Buffy to pick up birds like she is picking up the dumbbell---charging at it, not slowing down, not a delicate pickup?" And I replied "As a hunter, yes. Hunted birds are frequently crippled and can run. I certainly do not want her to slow down and be gentle as she approaches a potentially crippled, struggling, fighting cockbird. I want her to do what she is doing."

His question was serious. In obedience her "style" is not desired. I did say that I will try to get her to do a more aesthetically pleasing retrieve for obedience but personally did not care if it didn't "improve".

I welcome any comments on this.
 

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the party's crashing us
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If you want to compete in obedience trials and earn high scores you will need to teach her not to pounce on the dumbbell. At best it's points off, at worst she knocks it out of the ring and you fail.
If you just want to earn a title, then by all means ignore this behavior.
To me it's about being the BEST DOG TRAINER you can be, not just getting a title, I don't care what venue.
Pouncing on the dumbbell is not "STYLE" it is POOR TRAINING :)
There is ZERO carry-over between hunting and the obedience ring on this sort of thing, don't even waste time trying to think of them as the same.
 

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And to add to that, if your dog pounced feet-first on a pile of bumpers I would say she is NOT properly forced fetched, so even then your theory doesn't hold much water. If they are going feet first at a retrieve object, they are avoiding picking it up.
 

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Kate
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If they are going feet first at a retrieve object, they are avoiding picking it up.
I think it's more excitement-chase-play stuff....

My Bertie used to do this. It was puppy play stuff. It showed he was excited about getting to do the retrieve. But he'd jump in the air and POUNCE on the dumbbell.

We started putting the dumbbells slightly under ring gating, up against walls, having a training partner put their foot on one of the sides... and the pouncing stopped. I don't force fetch so I'm not sure how that would fix the issue.

It doesn't mean you get rid of the desire to retrieve. I did a fun match yesterday and we were working on stopping anticipation for the retrieves. Bertie was taut and sort of twitching/vibrating waiting to go all shot out of the cannon after his dumbbell when I finally told him to jump.

This dog has very clean and careful pickups now even though he started out with very flamboyant pounces.

As Anney said - you want to stop the pouncing if you don't want to lose points. Same thing with flipping, mouthing, fumbling around with the dumbbell - all signs of an overexcited retriever, but stuff that will cost you.

*** Meant to clarify. The dogs don't generalize on this. Bertie still pounces when retrieving toys or sticks. He knows when he's working in the obedience ring and when he's not.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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The rules for the obedience ring are for the ring only.

If you're hunting upland birds like pheasant, the rules are different because the object to be retrieved will fight back and kick the crap out of the dog if it is given time to prepare for the dogs approach. The dog is by far better off with a speedy "attack style" approach when going after birds. Birds are birds, they are not dumbells, dokkens or bumpers.
 

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I think it's more excitement-chase-play stuff....

My Bertie used to do this. It was puppy play stuff. It showed he was excited about getting to do the retrieve. But he'd jump in the air and POUNCE on the dumbbell.

We started putting the dumbbells slightly under ring gating, up against walls, having a training partner put their foot on one of the sides... and the pouncing stopped. I don't force fetch so I'm not sure how that would fix the issue.

It doesn't mean you get rid of the desire to retrieve. I did a fun match yesterday and we were working on stopping anticipation for the retrieves. Bertie was taut and sort of twitching/vibrating waiting to go all shot out of the cannon after his dumbbell when I finally told him to jump.

This dog has very clean and careful pickups now even though he started out with very flamboyant pounces.

As Anney said - you want to stop the pouncing if you don't want to lose points. Same thing with flipping, mouthing, fumbling around with the dumbbell - all signs of an overexcited retriever, but stuff that will cost you.

*** Meant to clarify. The dogs don't generalize on this. Bertie still pounces when retrieving toys or sticks. He knows when he's working in the obedience ring and when he's not.
Right -- if they are using their feet they are playing, not fetching. Definitely a sign of an enthusiastic retriever! But one who doesn't 100% understand his job! Proper FF should clean this up, and of course in obedience there are lots of other methods you can use to discourage a messy pickup. Of course, there's always the old reliable of throwing the dumbbell as close to the ring gate you can, and cross your fingers. Been there! (Fisher)
Your post is spot on!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I certainly understand what is expected in the obedience ring and will try to train for it. However, I agree with Swampcollie and I can tell by his reply that he has hunted the uplands for pheasant. These are not pheasants shot at a hunt test where two gunners are shooting at birds that fall dead and the birds don't move. Any pheasant dog that is successfully hunting pheasants retrieves like Mike Tyson fights i.e. very aggressively.

Also, I did not say Buffy was hitting the dumbbell with her feet or pouncing on it. I said that she does not slow down and gently pick up the bumper.

PS I will let the force fetch comment slide. Maybe another time on that one. I stand by my force fetch program.
 

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not sure that we can assume charging at a dumbbell means pouncing and feet hitting is involved. You can have the former without the latter. A dog charging hard at a dumbbell would be a goal of many. Most of my training goes into the turn back to me. I want a quick, powerful turn back towards me. A great turn will clean up most pick up problems.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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However, I agree with Swampcollie and I can tell by his reply that he has hunted the uplands for pheasant. These are not pheasants shot at a hunt test where two gunners are shooting at birds that fall dead and the birds don't move. Any pheasant dog that is successfully hunting pheasants retrieves like Mike Tyson fights i.e. very aggressively.
I suspect there are more than a few people who have never had an up close look at a rooster pheasant. They can click on the link for a photo of a couple of mounted birds. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/eb/f0/2b/ebf02b6bb21c4561707bcb0073029e8b.jpg

You'll notice that the adult birds have sharp spurs on the back of their legs that they won't hesitate to use against a dog making a retrieve.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I suspect there are more than a few people who have never had an up close look at a rooster pheasant. They can click on the link for a photo of a couple of mounted birds. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/eb/f0/2b/ebf02b6bb21c4561707bcb0073029e8b.jpg

You'll notice that the adult birds have sharp spurs on the back of their legs that they won't hesitate to use against a dog making a retrieve.
That mount is a beautiful mount and is very similar to my favorite that was in a hunting preserve that I shot at. Just replace one cockbird with a golden pheasant. I hope to one day have a couple of birds mounted like that.
 

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What is she doing that would lose points?

not sure that we can assume charging at a dumbbell means pouncing and feet hitting is involved. You can have the former without the latter. A dog charging hard at a dumbbell would be a goal of many. Most of my training goes into the turn back to me. I want a quick, powerful turn back towards me. A great turn will clean up most pick up problems.
I too put emphasis on the return to clean up Winter's dumbbell retrieve. It worked like a charm.
 

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One reason I do not do obedience past the regular classes. Hunt comes first for me.

Now, as far as being the best trainer possible, I will never resort to putting a collar on my dog's butt to achieve those ribbons.
 

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Kate
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Also, I did not say Buffy was hitting the dumbbell with her feet or pouncing on it. I said that she does not slow down and gently pick up the bumper.
What is she doing then that caused your instructor to bring up the issue?

If your dog is cleanly picking up the dumbbell, there is no problem.

If your dog is running THROUGH the dumbbell and scrambling to pick it up and bring it back, juggling the dumbbell along the way - there is a problem with losing points and from what I've seen with a lot of dogs out there who are either field trained or high octane (is that the word I'm thinking of?) - it's pretty common.

The goal of obedience is to have controlled and clean retrieves - but you also want some speed and energy. You don't want a dog walking out there and walking back. Because yeah, that's points off too.

Whatever you do - I would think obedience should come first. There's a lot of stuff in field that people have problems with because the dogs don't have obedience training or work put into them. <= That much I know from listening to people who field train their dogs (particularly mondo field bred dogs like labs and gsps) and are very successful at it.
 
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