FF to the ground

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FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:09 pm

Hey guys, FFing my first dog and hit a little snag. Basic info: just under 2 year old female lab. I was going to FF her last year, but decided to hunt her this first season instead. Overall, she did good her first year with over 100 retrieves, but we definitely needed to clean things up and work on hold. I'm following Graham's smart works program.

We started FF just over a week and a half ago. Things started slow and being my first time I didn't want to rush anything. She was being very stubborn and almost testing me it seemed. Finally had a breakthrough 2 days ago once I turned the pressure up a bit.

We have slowly moved our way to the ground and I can now place the end of the bumper on the ground angled up to my hand and she gets a pretty good hold(like in smartworks). Issue I'm having is that as soon as I move my hand to the string she grabs closer and closer to my hand and is not getting a good hold by grabbing it on the end or even the string.

This has been going on the last 2 days. Does anyone have any tips/tricks to getting her to go for the bumper right in the center or do I just need to keep working it. What I have been doing is keeping pressure on the ear and as soon as she grabs the bumper I pull it over to center it(and release pressure), but I don't think she is getting the concept to grab it there in the first place. I appreciate any advice.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Bluesky2012 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:13 pm

I walked the bumper to the ground, then slowly transitioned to using my foot to hold it at an angle. That removed my hand from being a que for the dog on what to grab. Not sure if that helps.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:28 pm

I've heard of people using their foot instead of hand. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow and see her reaction.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby mtncntrykid » Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:48 pm

Have you got a bumper that is shaped like a dumbbell with a skinny middle?
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Labs » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:25 pm

You need one of these.

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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Labs » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:26 pm

Also, how long did you work on hold, before moving into the FF part?


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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:29 am

mtncntrykid wrote:Have you got a bumper that is shaped like a dumbbell with a skinny middle?


I do not have a bumper like that as it is not used in the smartworks program. I also thought about purchasing one of those, however, everything I've read says pick a training program and stick to it.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:34 am

Labs wrote:Also, how long did you work on hold, before moving into the FF part?


We worked on hold for easily a month before. I had been working on hold for a couple weeks and was about to FF when I got invited on a week long snow goose hunt last minute. Didn't wanna start FF then have to stop for a week and go chase real birds, then continue. So we just worked on hold for an extra couple weeks. Her hold is very solid when I just hold the bumper in front.

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Last edited by DCronk on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby wraithen » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:42 am

Yes stick to your program. I dont think Smartworks says not to use other objects and the dumbell dowel should help you. You could also pop the bumper out when she holds it inappropriately and treat the incident the same as if she dropped it on her own. She should figure that out. Chris Akin and Tom Dokken both explain this exact scenario
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby swampbilly 1980 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:55 am

cronkdre wrote:Hey guys, FFing my first dog and hit a little snag.Issue I'm having is that as soon as I move my hand to the string she grabs closer and closer to my hand and is not getting a good hold by grabbing it on the end or even the string.


Hopefully I read this right, but if your dog is moving before commanded to then-
FETCH is command, not something the dog does before commanded to. Your hand movement doesn't mean FETCH.

The verbal command does :wink: Pup may be anticipating the command. Don't let her.
. No- SIT, then when she's steady -FETCH.
Agree with Labs too on the training Buck.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:52 am

swampbilly 1980 wrote:
cronkdre wrote:Hey guys, FFing my first dog and hit a little snag.Issue I'm having is that as soon as I move my hand to the string she grabs closer and closer to my hand and is not getting a good hold by grabbing it on the end or even the string.


Hopefully I read this right, but if your dog is moving before commanded to then-
FETCH is command, not something the dog does before commanded to. Your hand movement doesn't mean FETCH.

The verbal command does :wink: Pup may be anticipating the command. Don't let her.
. No- SIT, then when she's steady -FETCH.
Agree with Labs too on the training Buck.


No this is not the case maybe I didn't word that the best. She sits until commanded fetch. In smartworks, Evan moves lower and lower with the bumper until he is holding the bumper on an angle with one end on the ground and the other in his hand. We are good to this point.

Evan then begins moving his hand to the rope, in small increments until he is no longer holding the rope. This is where we are having an issue. When I move my hand to the rope, pup grabs the bumper as close to my hand as possible which results in her grabbing the very end of the bumper or even the rope.

To this point I have been releasing ear pressure when she does this(and quickly sliding the bumper into correct position), because she is still fetching the object and I am viewing it as more of a hold issue. I have no idea if that's the right thing to do, but it seemed to make sense to me.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Irishwhistler » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:43 am

I am with all those suggesting going to a "training buck". That configuration should allow the dog to easily scoop it off the ground while being "guided" by it's shape toward holding the buck properly in the middle. That solidified, should transition well to proper hold of standard shaped training bumpers.

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Re: FF to the ground

Postby dogyak » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:43 am

I would use the training buck . A lot of the oldtimers in the old days would use bardwire on the ends of the bumper so the dog would have too grab in the middle . I wouldn't recommend this though , training buck safer . Good luck
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Dakota Creek » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:36 pm

Recommend the buck but if you can't get your hands on one, an alternative would be to put a short piece of PVC pipe on each end of the bumper you are using (2" or 3" depending on the size of bumper you are using). Dog should avoid the PVC and grab for the middle of the bumper.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Labs » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:57 pm

Don't hold the rope. I used Smartworks too....I simply went lower and lower to the ground, until layed the buck on the ground...I just kept my hand near the buck. I'm guessing that your pup figures that the rope, is part of the bumper, and that's the closest thing to grab onto to stop the pressure. If you don't want to go with a buck, just quit holding the rope...let everything lay on the floor, and command fetch...Don't start here, tho, go through your routine of getting lower and lower to the ground...keep the bumper horizontal to the floor all the way down until the bumper is on the floor. She will know what to do....

I am glad to hear that you are asking what to do...not every dog fits every training system perfectly. You have to adjust your training so you can train the dog you are training. This is a perfect example of that...small little tweeks work better for some dogs. Also, at the end of each session, I would have the dog at heel, and held the bumper about chest high. Then commanded her to fetch. Since this was all done indoors in the winter months, this was our equivalent of a fun bumper at the end of our sessions...kept her spirits up through the process. May not work for your dog, but I did it with my last dog, and worked great.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:56 pm

Well I don't have anywhere local that sells training bucks, and didn't want to wait a week to have one shipped online, so I made my own. Should be an easy transition to a normal bumper by just pulling the pegs out. About to do a training session in a few minutes so I'll hope for the best.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby swampbilly 1980 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:25 pm

cronkdre wrote:
swampbilly 1980 wrote:
cronkdre wrote:Hey guys, FFing my first dog and hit a little snag.Issue I'm having is that as soon as I move my hand to the string she grabs closer and closer to my hand and is not getting a good hold by grabbing it on the end or even the string.


Hopefully I read this right, but if your dog is moving before commanded to then-
FETCH is command, not something the dog does before commanded to. Your hand movement doesn't mean FETCH.

The verbal command does :wink: Pup may be anticipating the command. Don't let her.
. No- SIT, then when she's steady -FETCH.
Agree with Labs too on the training Buck.


No this is not the case maybe I didn't word that the best. She sits until commanded fetch. In smartworks, Evan moves lower and lower with the bumper until he is holding the bumper on an angle with one end on the ground and the other in his hand. We are good to this point.

Evan then begins moving his hand to the rope, in small increments until he is no longer holding the rope. This is where we are having an issue. When I move my hand to the rope, pup grabs the bumper as close to my hand as possible which results in her grabbing the very end of the bumper or even the rope.

To this point I have been releasing ear pressure when she does this(and quickly sliding the bumper into correct position), because she is still fetching the object and I am viewing it as more of a hold issue. I have no idea if that's the right thing to do, but it seemed to make sense to me.

ok gotcha'. You've actually got a good thing going on. We all want to see a good solid HOLD, but it's not really a HOLD that's causing pup to HOLD to "cigar" the bumper. All dogs are different. Your dog feels the need to get the object in its mouth which is GOOD!. No matter how it's picked up. Don't try to re-invent the wheel on this. Granted- we all want a good solid HOLD, but it's about how pup picks the object up that makes a difference. Not to take you out of what Graham does, but you can always simply get rid of the friggin' rope. Then you may achieve a better pick up, ( and HOLD) without it.

Again- all dogs are different. There's nuthin' etched in stone that says you have to use an object that has a rope attached to it.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:22 pm

Yes I see what you're saying. I honestly don't care how she holds it as long as she holds it and doesn't drop it. She is a hunter, not a test dog, and ducks don't have ropes. However, I am trying to stick with the program as much as possible.

I used the training buck today and she was picking it up without my hand even on it by the end. We struggled for a while because she would just grab the dowels and hold it by them (just trying to piss me off). We went back to just hold work with no fetch/pressure so I could show her what I wanted.

I think I will proceed with the training buck for another session, then try a bumper with no dowels/rope and see if she will take it off the ground. Then off to walking fetch and collar fetch. I'm already ready for this to be done haha.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:51 pm

Update: Figured I'd post a little update for any new guys like myself who may run into a similar problem. We used the training buck for a couple days, and she did great with it, but as soon as I took the pegs out we had issues again.

I decided that I didn't want to deviate from the program too much (thinking I may cause future problems), so we took a couple steps back and went to the standard bumper with a rope. As an engineer, it was driving me nuts that we didn't solve the initial problem and I felt like I was covering it up.

I watched smartworks 3 more times looking at every detail. I started with the bumper angled from the ground to my hand(on the tab) and I SLOWLY started moving my hand farther on the rope. The thing I changed (as graham does in the DVD) is that as soon as she would grab near my hand I would release pressure from the ear, but command hold and move the bumper to center in her mouth. Within a day she was fetching off the ground with the rope on the bumper and my hand completely off.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:11 pm

We have now moved to collar fetch. I thought this would be easy as she is CC to sit, here, heel, and blind (her dog blind). Well of course things did not go how I hoped. She was extremely buggy and nervous (started panting a lot). She wanted to run away or hide almost (she's never done anything like this).

She picked up the concept that the bumper in her mouth means happiness, but she was still very nervous and confused looking. I gave her a day off and we continued today. Still a little nervous but much better (no heavy panting). She is going for the bumper like I have never seen her before. I started tossing the bumper a few feet in front of us and she will grab it and return to heel. I think she is putting the pieces together and we prolly have another day of collar fetch just to solidify things before moving on.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions feel free to post them up. One question I have is if anyone has started fetching to doikens or real birds at this point. Graham does this last, but with us having 2+ feet of snow and ice on the ground, walking fetch won't be as fun. I can use her dummy or birds in the living room to buy us a week or 2, but I'm not sure if there is a reason he waits till last.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Labs » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:28 am

What is stopping you from doing walking fetch in the house? I did walking fetch and mini T in my basement a few years back due to lots of snow on the ground.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby DCronk » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:28 pm

Yea I think I will resort to the basement. We have over 3' of snow in spots with no sign of warmer weather.
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Re: FF to the ground

Postby Labs » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:44 am

cronkdre wrote:Yea I think I will resort to the basement. We have over 3' of snow in spots with no sign of warmer weather.


3 feet? That's it? Heck, you will see the grass before I will...LOL. I haven't seen even dead grass since late November. This winter can't end soon enough!
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