History and variations of force fetch

Rick Hall

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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.

Nope, I had reliably retrieving pointing dogs through habit built on play training, to include from waters such as Lake Erie and the Ohio River, long before owning my first "retriever," per se, getting serious about its training and looking into force-fetch. Finally did so in the mid '80s, at a time when many, if not most, pros were of the opinion that FF wasn't really complete until one had sparked a battle with the dog and come out the victorious lord and master. Pro trained dogs with ears scared by the likes of bottle caps or rivets on the fingers of welding gloves and some said pliers were still quite common, while other pros relied on red-resistored electricity to make Pup holler, er... open his mouth for the training buck, instead of first at least teaching "hold" by gentler means.

Would like to think most modern practitioners would walk out of seminars demonstrating such, as I twice did. But it's my impression that most current practice is still needlessly unpleasant for the pupil:
1655918632016.jpeg


And my suspicion is that it's being so tough on Pup is at least part of the reason many are so adamant about its necessity. Who among us wants to put a beloved pet through misery unnecessarily? But, hey, the pros do it, so it must be necessary, right?

May very well be the best, if not only expedient, way for a pro dealing with whatever comes through the gate, but that's not necessarily so for those of us getting to start from scratch with our pups.

Re: Chessies and pressure, force of well conditioned habit alone has gotten us through a lot of real world pressures without getting flipped off:
1655919500866.jpeg


(Given the current drought, odds are great that's going to be the scene coming out of our "pond" onto the dog stand again this year...)
 

Rick Hall

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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..

Probably a safe bet most all hard-headed Chessies are owned by hard-headed trainers.
 

Rick Hall

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Sanborn reference came from James Spencer's writings back in the 1990s.

I enjoyed much of Spencer's stuff in Gundog enough to have invited he (and a son?) to come hunt with us (though their trip eventually fell through), but don't recall that reference. The most meaningful of his writings to me was a piece nodding to his IBM days by suggesting treating training problems like management by objective problems: beginning with the end goal and working backwards in a "to achieve the goal, we'll need 'this' and 'that,' and to get those, we'll need 'these other things' and so on, right back to a starting point or points.

Took it a step beyond individual problems by developing training plans for each of my last five pups in that manner: starting with our field and family needs and wants and working backwards to the inevitable foundational corner stones of "come," "sit (or whoa for pointing dogs)," and "good" and "bad" in their various iterations. Ends up being an untidy document ever subject to new interjections, but working that puzzle anew for each pup keeps me mindful not just of the steps along our course but the importance of solid foundation for each. When we misstep, it's for lack of solid footing.
 

Ruination

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Nope, I had reliably retrieving pointing dogs through habit built on play training, to include from waters such as Lake Erie and the Ohio River, long before owning my first "retriever," per se, getting serious about its training and looking into force-fetch. Finally did so in the mid '80s, at a time when many, if not most, pros were of the opinion that FF wasn't really complete until one had sparked a battle with the dog and come out the victorious lord and master. Pro trained dogs with ears scared by the likes of bottle caps or rivets on the fingers of welding gloves and some said pliers were still quite common, while other pros relied on red-resistored electricity to make Pup holler, er... open his mouth for the training buck, instead of first at least teaching "hold" by gentler means.

Would like to think most modern practitioners would walk out of seminars demonstrating such, as I twice did. But it's my impression that most current practice is still needlessly unpleasant for the pupil:
View attachment 345793

And my suspicion is that it's being so tough on Pup is at least part of the reason many are so adamant about its necessity. Who among us wants to put a beloved pet through misery unnecessarily? But, hey, the pros do it, so it must be necessary, right?

May very well be the best, if not only expedient, way for a pro dealing with whatever comes through the gate, but that's not necessarily so for those of us getting to start from scratch with our pups.

Re: Chessies and pressure, force of well conditioned habit alone has gotten us through a lot of real world pressures without getting flipped off:
View attachment 345795

(Given the current drought, odds are great that's going to be the scene coming out of our "pond" onto the dog stand again this year...)

Thanks for the reply.

I taught my last dog to fetch and hold without force. And she did it with about everything. She hated holding and retrieving birds though. I decided to let her be a house pet instead of force fetch her.



Chessies are often a reflection of their owner in my experience.
 

Missy Skeeter

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I enjoyed much of Spencer's stuff in Gundog enough to have invited he (and a son?) to come hunt with us (though their trip eventually fell through), but don't recall that reference. The most meaningful of his writings to me was a piece nodding to his IBM days by suggesting treating training problems like management by objective problems: beginning with the end goal and working backwards in a "to achieve the goal, we'll need 'this' and 'that,' and to get those, we'll need 'these other things' and so on, right back to a starting point or points.

Took it a step beyond individual problems by developing training plans for each of my last five pups in that manner: starting with our field and family needs and wants and working backwards to the inevitable foundational corner stones of "come," "sit (or whoa for pointing dogs)," and "good" and "bad" in their various iterations. Ends up being an untidy document ever subject to new interjections, but working that puzzle anew for each pup keeps me mindful not just of the steps along our course but the importance of solid foundation for each. When we misstep, it's for lack of solid footing.
I also enjoyed Spencer's writing.
He had some unconventional training ideas I do not agree with.
None of these ideas are used in more modern training programs:

1) Routinely repeating marks. Spencer advocated routinely repeating marks.
He described it as "marking calibration". No other program I am
aware of advocates routinely repeating marks like Spencer advocated.
There are several potential problems with routinely repeating marks.
First, the dog is not learning marking, he is learning to run back to the same location.
Second, by running back to the same location, the dog is learning to return to an old fall area.
No wonder Spencer wrote so much about dealing with switching problems since
routinely repeating marks gives the dog incentive to return to old fall areas.

2) White traffic cones as blind retrieve targets.
Spencer advocated routine use of white traffic cones as a lining target.
Line the dog to the white cone, then remove the white cone and run the bind again.
This approach would make transition to cold blinds more difficult as the dog is
learning to repeat a run to a known location, not line a blind.

3) No angle back casts.
Spencer advocated only overs and backs to run blinds.

To me the most useful of Spencer's writing was his "Non-Hell Week" perspective on force fetch.
 

crackerd

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On the other hand...
...

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.
Rick, you are an out and out outlier;) as always on force fetch threads, but note in 6.) I'm only covering anybody who imparts FF to their own dogs - not FF as having been done by a pro. Quite agree with your statement above - and also have seen this happen with others' dogs that I've FF'd as an amateur friend (or...tee-hee, former amateur friend when the dog wouldn't perform for them as it had for the man responsible for imparting a kinder, gentler FF to their dogs, who would be...me.

I also enjoyed Spencer's writing.
He had some unconventional training ideas I do not agree with.
None of these ideas are used in more modern training programs...
Spencer was a Golden guy at heart, but his training seemed to be more conducive to spaniels - at least for handling. His book "Hup!" wasn't a training manual, more of a a spaniel breed compendium, but it had enough of the basics that I gave it a hard study and follow. Then I came across Lardy 25-26 years ago for handling, and voila!, the spaniels (yes - I said spaniels - and spinoni and several others) took to his yard (work) for handling just as readily.

MG

PS Let me reiterate here as elsewhere, glad to see our (new training program) man swampbilly back in these here precincts and arming himself to be ready for competitive retriever battle -
 

Swampbilly

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Rick, you are an out and out outlier;) as always on force fetch threads, but note in 6.) I'm only covering anybody who imparts FF to their own dogs - not FF as having been done by a pro. Quite agree with your statement above - and also have seen this happen with others' dogs that I've FF'd as an amateur friend (or...tee-hee, former amateur friend when the dog wouldn't perform for them as it had for the man responsible for imparting a kinder, gentler FF to their dogs, who would be...me.


Spencer was a Golden guy at heart, but his training seemed to be more conducive to spaniels - at least for handlng.

PS Let me reiterate here as elsewhere, glad to see our (new training program) man swampbilly back in these here precincts and arming himself to be ready for competitive retriever battle -
MG thanks for that, it's good to be back in the saddle again, AND with similar , but different goals in mind this time.
Have had my nose between the pages of Spencer's hardback as well and was reminded ,(as oper your post) that he was more of a Golden guy.
As never had trained one up, I hope that he got the same pleasures out of 'em as I currently am with this one.
Will say this-
My little Swamp Collie's character presents a somewhat different approach as previous Labs I've owned, and it's not a bad thing..
 

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