History and variations of force fetch

Missy Skeeter

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Just as the blind retrieve concept was borrowed from herding dog trainers (Dave Elliot), retriever trainers borrowed force-breaking (force fetch) from pointing dog trainers. Back in the 1880s, pointing dog trainer David Sanborn developed force-breaking to teach elementary retrieving to bird dogs that have little or no natural retrieving instinct.

For many decades, retriever trainers did not force-fetch.
For example, as late as 1949, James Lamb Free, in his classic, Training Your Retriever, all but foamed at the mouth at the very thought of force-breaking a retriever. (He did, however, recommend teaching retrievers to hold on command, apparently unaware that this is the first step in force-breaking.) However, gradually force-breaking became popular among many retriever trainers. The 1968 classic Charles Morgan on Retrievers recommends force-breaking every retriever. The procedure also was name a variety of terms including "trained retrieve", "force fetch", etc.

There is a wide variety of methods of force-fetching including the classic "Non-Hell Week" approach by James Spencer, which started with a wooden buck, others start with a gloved hand, other with a paint roller.
The conventional toe-hitch used primarily by pointer trainers, while most retriever trainers use the ear pinch, Bill Hillmans program uses a chase-based approach with low ecollar stimulation.
Some use a training table approach (Milner for example Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter) , others with the
dog sitting on the ground, for example the "SmartFetch" approach by Evan Graham.

Why force fetch? As Jeff G pointed out in another thread, it is not to instill the desire or drive to retrieve...
that is in the dog's genetics.

There are several reasons why I choose to force fetch.

1) If your dog is going to run hunt tests or field trials, he will have to deliver to hand
a cold bird with the scent of other dogs, or sometimes a cold, wet,"skanky" duck.
Very different than hunting where every bird is a warm, freshly shot flier.
Force-fetch gives you a training tool to deal with delivery to hand a cold, wet,"skanky" duck.

2) If your dog is going to run hunt tests or field trials, he will have to deliver to hand
after swimming for a retrieve. Most untrained dogs would naturally drop the bird
to shake when exiting a pond returning at the shoreline. Force fetch provides a
training tool to prevent this drop and shake behavior at the shoreline far away from the handler.

3) It provides a training tool for dealing with mouth problems.
For example, as a handler what do you do if your dog starts chomping birds?
Force fetch gives the trainer a tool if mouth problems start.

4) As a hunter I want a retriever that will not drop a diver and loose it,
or drop a crippled rooster that runs into the next county.

5) It teaches pup that he must quickly react (fetch) on command in response to pressure (ear or toe pinch).
No longer is he retrieving only because that is what he wants. It provides a training framework
where there is a negative consequence (pressure) if there is not compulsive obedience.
In some programs it is the first step to force to pile.
 

crackerd

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6) FF spares you as a handler, an emotional sentient being, incalculable FF (f-in' frustration) over a working dog's lifetime for all the deleterious doings above enumerated by Missy Skeeter.

MG
 

Rick Hall

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On the other hand...

1.) Don't count on that skanky hunt test bird thing unless Pup's been trained with skanky birds, as FFed dogs have most definitely been known to roll on test birds.

2.) The habit of retrieving to hand from water without first shaking can also be readily conditioned by initially meeting Pup and accepting his bumper/bird at water's edge and gradually working back from there.

3.) First dog I heard referred to as an "alligator" was a FFed trial washout sold as "Finished" that sure seemed to be responding to pressure by chomping, and he wasn't the last, so I'd be interested in how the FF process could be used as remedy - serious question, not sharp-shooting.

4.) Any pup with an ounce of prey drive is apt to drop exactly one lively crip before teaching himself not to.

5.) If one conspires to make retrieving to hand fun from the git-go, force of habit will be all the force necessary to make a command of that request when the going gets tough.
(But I certainly agree FF does appear the best way to teach shutting off pressure of the type it applies for those feeling the need for follow on force-to-whatever.)

And to MG's addition,
6.) Maybe, as FFed dogs quite often come undone in the hands of owners unable or unwilling to maintain its lessons.

Missy Skeeter, in addition to using FF as remedy for chomping, I'm (more mildly) curious where your Sanborn reference came from, as Caleb Whitford's turn of the 20th century classic Training the Bird Dog seems most often cited for that in pointing dog circles, and I only vaguely think I recall his crediting another in the borrowed copy I read decades ago. Not doubting for a moment that you're correct, just wondering if Sanborn's process is something I might find and read somewhere, after long forgetting Whitford's.
 

Ruination

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On the other hand...

1.) Don't count on that skanky hunt test bird thing unless Pup's been trained with skanky birds, as FFed dogs have most definitely been known to roll on test birds.

2.) The habit of retrieving to hand from water without first shaking can also be readily conditioned by initially meeting Pup and accepting his bumper/bird at water's edge and gradually working back from there.

3.) First dog I heard referred to as an "alligator" was a FFed trial washout sold as "Finished" that sure seemed to be responding to pressure by chomping, and he wasn't the last, so I'd be interested in how the FF process could be used as remedy - serious question, not sharp-shooting.

4.) Any pup with an ounce of prey drive is apt to drop exactly one lively crip before teaching himself not to.

5.) If one conspires to make retrieving to hand fun from the git-go, force of habit will be all the force necessary to make a command of that request when the going gets tough.
(But I certainly agree FF does appear the best way to teach shutting off pressure of the type it applies for those feeling the need for follow on force-to-whatever.)

And to MG's addition,
6.) Maybe, as FFed dogs quite often come undone in the hands of owners unable or unwilling to maintain its lessons.

Missy Skeeter, in addition to using FF as remedy for chomping, I'm (more mildly) curious where your Sanborn reference came from, as Caleb Whitford's turn of the 20th century classic Training the Bird Dog seems most often cited for that in pointing dog circles, and I only vaguely think I recall his crediting another in the borrowed copy I read decades ago. Not doubting for a moment that you're correct, just wondering if Sanborn's process is something I might find and read somewhere, after long forgetting Whitford's.

Do you not FF your dogs?

Then again they are Chessies. I could see them giving the finger no matter how much pressure you decided on, lol.
 

Swampbilly

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Too much pressure on those "hard headed Chessies" or any other dawg and you get both paws flaring middle fingers at cha'..

Guarantee you there's a whoooole lot more hard headed "Chessie trainers" than hard headed Chessies out there..
 

Don Smith

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Just as the blind retrieve concept was borrowed from herding dog trainers (Dave Elliot), retriever trainers borrowed force-breaking (force fetch) from pointing dog trainers. Back in the 1880s, pointing dog trainer David Sanborn developed force-breaking to teach elementary retrieving to bird dogs that have little or no natural retrieving instinct.

For many decades, retriever trainers did not force-fetch.
For example, as late as 1949, James Lamb Free, in his classic, Training Your Retriever, all but foamed at the mouth at the very thought of force-breaking a retriever. (He did, however, recommend teaching retrievers to hold on command, apparently unaware that this is the first step in force-breaking.) However, gradually force-breaking became popular among many retriever trainers. The 1968 classic Charles Morgan on Retrievers recommends force-breaking every retriever. The procedure also was name a variety of terms including "trained retrieve", "force fetch", etc.

There is a wide variety of methods of force-fetching including the classic "Non-Hell Week" approach by James Spencer, which started with a wooden buck, others start with a gloved hand, other with a paint roller.
The conventional toe-hitch used primarily by pointer trainers, while most retriever trainers use the ear pinch, Bill Hillmans program uses a chase-based approach with low ecollar stimulation.
Some use a training table approach (Milner for example Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter) , others with the
dog sitting on the ground, for example the "SmartFetch" approach by Evan Graham.

Why force fetch? As Jeff G pointed out in another thread, it is not to instill the desire or drive to retrieve...
that is in the dog's genetics.

There are several reasons why I choose to force fetch.

1) If your dog is going to run hunt tests or field trials, he will have to deliver to hand
a cold bird with the scent of other dogs, or sometimes a cold, wet,"skanky" duck.
Very different than hunting where every bird is a warm, freshly shot flier.
Force-fetch gives you a training tool to deal with delivery to hand a cold, wet,"skanky" duck.

2) If your dog is going to run hunt tests or field trials, he will have to deliver to hand
after swimming for a retrieve. Most untrained dogs would naturally drop the bird
to shake when exiting a pond returning at the shoreline. Force fetch provides a
training tool to prevent this drop and shake behavior at the shoreline far away from the handler.

3) It provides a training tool for dealing with mouth problems.
For example, as a handler what do you do if your dog starts chomping birds?
Force fetch gives the trainer a tool if mouth problems start.

4) As a hunter I want a retriever that will not drop a diver and loose it,
or drop a crippled rooster that runs into the next county.

5) It teaches pup that he must quickly react (fetch) on command in response to pressure (ear or toe pinch).
No longer is he retrieving only because that is what he wants. It provides a training framework
where there is a negative consequence (pressure) if there is not compulsive obedience.
In some programs it is the first step to force to pile.
Good discussion. You've also touched on the reasons to force fetch and the goals which, as described by Evan Graham, are:
1) Establishing a standard for acceptable mouth habits.
2) Providing the trainer with a tool to maintain those habits.
3) Providing the trainer with a tool to assure compliance with the command to retrieve.
4) Forming the foundation for impetus (momentum).

One correction - Retriever trainers began force fetching in the 19th Century. In his 1895 book Fetch and Carry, Bernard Waters devoted an extensive chapter to force fetch (which he called the Force System to distinguish it from what he called the Natural Method). What he describes is very similar to current force fetch methods. One exception is that instead of a paint roller (which probably didn't exist back then), a bumper, hardwood dumbbell or a wooden buck he used a corncob, sometimes wrapped with a cloth to absorb saliva. The book is still available in reprint. I've got the book as well as a CD. He also addresses the attributes of a couple of retrieving breeds - Irish Water Spaniel and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Goldens and Labs didn't exist outside of the UK then.
 

Ruination

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Too much pressure on those "hard headed Chessies" or any other dawg and you get both paws flaring middle fingers at cha'..

Guarantee you there's a whoooole lot more hard headed "Chessie trainers" than hard headed Chessies out there..

Well yea. You gotta be hard headed to have a chessie.
/s
 

Missy Skeeter

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On the other hand...

1.) Don't count on that skanky hunt test bird thing unless Pup's been trained with skanky birds, as FFed dogs have most definitely been known to roll on test birds.

2.) The habit of retrieving to hand from water without first shaking can also be readily conditioned by initially meeting Pup and accepting his bumper/bird at water's edge and gradually working back from there.

3.) First dog I heard referred to as an "alligator" was a FFed trial washout sold as "Finished" that sure seemed to be responding to pressure by chomping, and he wasn't the last, so I'd be interested in how the FF process could be used as remedy - serious question, not sharp-shooting.

4.) Any pup with an ounce of prey drive is apt to drop exactly one lively crip before teaching himself not to.

5.) If one conspires to make retrieving to hand fun from the git-go, force of habit will be all the force necessary to make a command of that request when the going gets tough.
(But I certainly agree FF does appear the best way to teach shutting off pressure of the type it applies for those feeling the need for follow on force-to-whatever.)

And to MG's addition,
6.) Maybe, as FFed dogs quite often come undone in the hands of owners unable or unwilling to maintain its lessons.

Missy Skeeter, in addition to using FF as remedy for chomping, I'm (more mildly) curious where your Sanborn reference came from, as Caleb Whitford's turn of the 20th century classic Training the Bird Dog seems most often cited for that in pointing dog circles, and I only vaguely think I recall his crediting another in the borrowed copy I read decades ago. Not doubting for a moment that you're correct, just wondering if Sanborn's process is something I might find and read somewhere, after long forgetting Whitford's.
Sanborn reference came from James Spencer's writings back in the 1990s.
 

Missy Skeeter

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Good discussion. You've also touched on the reasons to force fetch and the goals which, as described by Evan Graham, are:
1) Establishing a standard for acceptable mouth habits.
2) Providing the trainer with a tool to maintain those habits.
3) Providing the trainer with a tool to assure compliance with the command to retrieve.
4) Forming the foundation for impetus (momentum).

One correction - Retriever trainers began force fetching in the 19th Century. In his 1895 book Fetch and Carry, Bernard Waters devoted an extensive chapter to force fetch (which he called the Force System to distinguish it from what he called the Natural Method). What he describes is very similar to current force fetch methods. One exception is that instead of a paint roller (which probably didn't exist back then), a bumper, hardwood dumbbell or a wooden buck he used a corncob, sometimes wrapped with a cloth to absorb saliva. The book is still available in reprint. I've got the book as well as a CD. He also addresses the attributes of a couple of retrieving breeds - Irish Water Spaniel and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Goldens and Labs didn't exist outside of the UK then.
Excellent!

Regarding history, my impression is Walking Baseball was invented by D. L Walters,
Rex Carr invented swim-by, tune-up drills, most force-based methods like force to pile?
 

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