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Year old (tomorrow) Brit. Lab not retrieving...


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I see there is a post already about a 6 month old lab not retrieving so I do not want to sound repetitive, but I am all of a sudden having a similar problem with my year old British Lab. Over the past week or so, it seems she has started going through a phase where she does not want to bring the dummy back to me. This is very strange because she was doing great up until this point. I hunted her all last fall and she did fine. She listens well, and was doing well at starting to retrieve to hand. Over the past week or week and a half, she all of a sudden is acting like she wants to do her own thing and not bring the dummy back. This may sound strange, but could the change in the weather be affecting her behavior? I can't seem to point my finger on why she is acting the way she is. It seems like she is distracted by all of the smells on the ground now that it is spring and warmer outside. She is very excited to go and get the dummy, and waits for the "back" command, but now after retrieving it she just kind of wanders around and does not bring it back. I used a check chord when she was younger for a while, but then went away from it. Should I be concerned she is doing this a a year old? Should I hold off on throwing dummies for her for a couple of days to see if it goes away? Has anyone experienced something similar to this with their dog? I would appreciate any info. or suggestions.

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It is my personal belief that 'bumper' training is waaaay over done by most dog owners. It becomes a monotonous - redunant regimen over time. ie: the fun factor gets removed. It starts to show itself with the ending of the retrieve prior to completion. The fun part is chasing down the bumper, not delivering it. Toss in a dog in adolesence and all the new smells and sights of spring to distract and walla... your problem is manifested. You should be able to work through this though.

Most Labs have plenty of retrieving instincts in them and do not need to be 'taught' how to retrieve... so, with that said, ALWAYS limit the number of retrieves you do with your dog. Keep it down to 3-5 tops. Like I said, Far to often guys way over do the bumper routine.

I would also begin a program to teach 'hold' as a command and work solely on that and not any retrieves. I work my dogs on a bench when doing this (or picnic table works well also). I usually start them in a sit position and then Open their mouth and command 'fetch', place the training dowel (which I prefer over a dummy, but you can use a dummy) in their mouth, make sure they close their mouth around the object if only breiefly and command 'hold' while it's in their mouth. Do not let them roll or spit out the object until the 'drop' or 'give' command is given. Initially it will be a pretty fluid movement, 'fetch', 'hold', 'drop'... maybe 5-10 seconds. Do this routine twice a day for 10-15 minutes at a time. Lots of praise as they complete each step, this is key. Prolong the period of 'hold' over a couple weeks time till they are holding it for a longer and longer periods of time... even minutes at a time. Begin having them carry the objects on short walks. Bring them to 'heel' and deliver it to you and then walk without it for a few hundred yards, then back to heel, 'fetch', 'hold' walk for a few hundred yards and then 'drop'. Do this over a couple weeks time and then start to mix in a retrieve or two. Also begin to work in other objects and birds. Repeat each step from the initial stages, but they will accelerate through the phases quicker with each object.

You can always do the full 'force' or 'conditioned retreive' program, which does an amazing job at making the retrieve an automatic task and done without mistake, but the above method should give you good results and is easy for any trainer to complete.

Good Luck!


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Thanks for the detailed response! I have been working on the "hold" command just ask you described for a while now, but I think I will focus more on that now than the retrieving. At least take a few days off from the dummies. My Lab will carry a dummy in her mouth until I tell her to drop it. I just can't get her to take the dummy on her own. I always have to put it in her mouth. Maybe having her up on the table like you described would help that, as I have not done that. I'll keep at it and see what happens. I know Labs have the retrieve "built in" with genetics, it just seems strange that she all of a sudden flipped a switch and wants to do her own thing.

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