At puppy class on Tuesday night, we started retrieve training. Students were shown this video, with the steps needed to train a reliable retrieve to hand. The video compresses quite a bit of learning (weeks of short sessions) into just under 2 minutes of demonstration. ‘How long did it take to train?’ they asked. I guess the answer is never straight forward and well, it depends.
So have you been practicing your hand targets? Well then, here's a video as promised, showing how to train a retrieve with reverse chaining. This means training the last piece of the puzzle first and working backwards. Use high value food like chicken or hotdog. As most dogs don't need to be trained the running out to the object part, it's the delivery back that takes most of the work. Step 1Hold a novel article out towards your dog (if needed make it move about so the dog is interested), it can even be a low value chewy. I'm using a nylabone. When your dog puts his mouth around the article, while you hold it, click/treat for this. Step 2: Repeat as above but now, try to click at the point where you feel he's actually trying to take it. Or you feel some pressure from his jaws. Repeat several times. Step 3. Now let go when he puts his mouth around it and click treat for him holding it himself in front of you, even if it's for a split second to start. Repeat several times. Step 4: Gradually withhold the click, so you're asking him to hold it in front of you for longer and longer. Repeat several times. Step 5: Start to ask for a hand target while he's holding it. Click/treat for this. Repeat several times. You can now begin to alter between taking it (click/treat) so you're getting a delivery to hand, or occasionally I click for the hold and hand target but don't take it, so the dog can choose to drop it, to eat his treat. Step 5: place the article in front of you and see if he'll pick it up to hold it in front of you. Click/treat this. Now repeat steps 4&5 from the pick up.Step 6: gradually place the article further and further away from you. He should now know to pick it up and return in front of you for the click/treat.Now's the time to confess this process took about 15-20 short training sessions for Jellybean to get the hang of. So the video below is fast tracked for your benefit.
Posted by Muttamorphosis Dog Training & Behaviour on Thursday, 23 February 2017
‘How long will it take to train my dog?’ is a common question trainers and behaviourists get asked. To understand what influences a dog’s learning and just how long it might take to get a dog to where you want it to be, let’s tackle some fundamental issues. Because if explained, owners should have a far better grasp of what dog training is all about. And if that was understood, they may not ask the question of ‘how long will it take?’ at all.
It depends on what your dog’s natural instincts are like.
It’s not a new concept to admit that learned skills can be un-learned without regular practice. Let’s look at an example. A dog who adores attention from people, will likely always want to greet people, as doing so is a very rewarding. A family can spend some time in the early months training their dog to sit when meeting new people. However if as time goes by, the family let slip the trained routine, an enthusiastic greeter may always want to greet enthusiastically, as this is the dog’s natural instinct. If not practiced, a learnt un-natural behaviour will usually be lost over time.
Every dog is different.
A clever, determined dog will often be easier to train. However this dog will also be more likely to make up his own games to get his kicks. While trainers love this type of dog, pet dog owners can find themselves frustrated. Their dog is super keen and easy to train when being actively engaged with. The same dog may be super naughty when left to their own devices. I once had a Border Collie who when asked to jump into the van (something he understood well), jumped onto the roof instead! Why? Because jumping was a self-rewarding behaviour to him and he loved the challenge. For such owners, they need to be doubly determined. They may need to get up each morning and explain all over again that certain behaviours are ok, whist others really won’t be rewarded or better still, not given access to (good dog management). Here’s my JRT Jellybean, who has a decent retrieve, show determination and initiative with a greater challenge, which needless to say he finds infinitely more rewarding than a boring ball throw.
You can’t rush maturity.
It’s common for people with pups and adolescents to expect their dog to ‘get it’ way before the dog is mature enough to do so. Parents teach, guide and remind their kids of acceptable behaviour all the time but it would be foolish to expect the child to make mature decisions before they are old enough and capable of this. Our dogs are no different. The goofy, adolescent large-breed who is trying to play with people or other dogs using giant paws and physical strength will likely keep doing this, until he’s old enough to make better choices, with an owner’s continuous guidance of course. My teenage un-castrated male is only now –at almost 2 years old-able to walk past another dog without feeling the need to investigate. He can plod, carry his ball and act like a grown up. As experienced dog owners know, this brings a great sense of relief but also a sense of regret, as puppyhood is over forever.
Think of training as daily interaction between you and your dog which enriches both your lives. It’s not a means to an end. Enjoy the journey. It takes as long as it takes…….