Friday, December 18, 2009

Can one dog teach another dog to retrieve?

I think so.....or is it just a coincidence ????? I've started training Jolee (Jackson's sister) to retrieve the dumbbell. She has her CD title, so the next step is Open, which requires the dumbbell retrieve. Her personality is so different from Jackson's, that I've decided to try training her with some different techniques, and I think it's fun and educational for me to experiment with various training methods.

At first I tried opening her mouth and putting the dumbbell in it to get her used to the feel of it. That did not go so well. She was fighting any attempts to put something in her mouth. So, then I got the clicker out, and thought I would try clicker training the retrieve. Now, I don't have a lot of experience with clicker training but thought it would be fun to try. After just a few sessions with clicking and treating her for offering behaviors with the dumbbell, we progressed from standing over it, pawing it, and then pushing it with her nose. However, she wasn't offering to pick it up. (Maybe I'm just not patient enough to do clicker training.)

Anyway, I thought I would set her up close to the dumbbell and have her watch Jackson retrieve it a few times. I would jackpot Jackson when he brought it back to me just to make things more interesting to her. Then, I tossed the dumbbell for Jolee and, much to my surprise, she ran out, picked it up and came running back to me with it for her jackpot! 'Wow,' I thought, maybe Jackson can help teach Jolee to retrieve. She did that several times - sometimes grabbing it by the end instead of the middle and then dropping it before she got back to me, however, always very happily retrieving it.

Now, folks who have naturally retrieving dogs are probably thinking, "Duh, you throw anything and a dog is going to go get it!" Well, not necessarily. Our dogs have never been natural 'retrievers.' When we throw something, they are most likely to stand and look at it or they may in some cases follow it and sniff it. But, never pick it up. So, I'm thinking, this is progress. But now I'm wondering, where do we go from here ??????


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

that's really interesting! I often have one dog watch the other when training (well I don't actually have them do it, they just get jealous and watch!) but I've never been able to tell if they learn from the other dog or if it's just the little break between sessions that helps.

I clicker trained both dogs to retrieve. Lance HATED having things in his mouth and while he still has zero play retrieves, he does now love his formal dumbbell retrieve. And even Vito is a very intense retriever still had to be clicker trained from step one since I want a very nice hold without mouthing.

Are you wondering what the next step to clicker training the retrieve is? Personally I do a ton of work in my hand before I ever put it on the ground. So once dog is reaching to it from all directions from my hand, I start holding it way out in front of me and drop it as soon as dog mouths it. i then immediately run back about steps and click the dog for grabbing and doing a tight turn towards me. i shape the bring directly to front portion before i go back to doing it on the ground. but the beauty of clicker training is that there is no wrong answer!

Kasha The Dainty Great Dane said...

Way to go Jolee!!! I don't know the answer to your question but I can just confirm that we Danes are not natural born retrievers in no way, shape or form. If you throw something and you want me to retrieve it...I'll just give you a funny look and tell you go get it yourself...HA ROO!!!

AARF Kasha the Dainty Great Dane

Kathie R said...

Thanks for the comments Kasha and Laura. Laura, it sounds like I might be going at it backwards :) So, you start with the dumbbell in the hand and work up the the dog taking it from your hand, using clicks and treats? I trained Jackson to retrieve starting with taking it from my hand and progressing to putting it on the floor. However, it was the traditional way (compulsion) - not with clicker training. He picked it up really quickly and has a reliable retrieve, but I thought I'd like to try something different with Jolee, even if it takes longer.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

well with clicker training there is no set order, it's just whatever makes the most sense to your dog. But usually I start with it in my hand, progress to shaping just a pick up off the floor right in front of me, and then put it back in my hand to get the bring back to me, and THEN put it back on the floor and do the carryiing back, and then work on a nice sit and hold. :)
I was actually going to do a post on shaping the retrieve on my blog since I've had a lot of people ask me about this recently!

Kathie R said...

Laura, I'll watch for it on your blog. That will be helpful to see how you train it.