Duck Hunting Forum banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
A lesson I learned the hard way is that you either FORCE Fetch a dog, or you don't. If you go through it just 'hard' enough to teach HOLD, FETCH, and GIVE, then you aren't FORCE Fetching the dog. You are just teaching new commands. While under cetain conditions this might suffice if you have a dog with exceptional drive, there WILL more than likely be an occasion when the dog will refuse a retrieve. It could be a big old mean gander with nothing but a broken wing, it could be the greenhead that is next in line after that gander, or it could be a canvasback floating feet-up 20 yards in front of the blind when it is 5 degrees and the ice is thick. The option to refuse is there, and valid for the dog because they have not been taught otherwise. There are always exceptions, but for the most part this will be the case. Now is that okay if the dog refuses one retrieve out of 1000, probably.

For me the Force Fetch is more of a transition from 'puppy training' to 'retriever training'. It might very well be the dogs first experience with pressure, and a major bi-product of the effort is teaching the dog how to handle pressure administered from the trainer. It is also, in most cases, a significant 'short cut' in obtaining a known commodity. Now the brutality of the process is subject to debate and will vary greatly between the pro trainer and the guy training his own dog.

For me, HOLD and GIVE can easily be taught to a dog without the use of much pressure. FETCH on the other hand is not something I feel one can achieve MY desired results for without the use of a fair amount of pressure. I want to see gravel spin or cornstalks fly when I give the BACK (aka FETCH) command. I want there to be no doubt that I'm serious. I'm saying THERE is something you need to go get, hold, and return to me in the quickest possible fashion.

Everyones expectations are different, and the amount of time one can dedicate to retriever training is limited for most of us. I just like to move a dog to the end game as quicly as I can. I want them to know what is expected of them and that I am more than willing to enforce any command that I issue.

Just my opinion...
 

· Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
I think the Force Fetch was not as common in the past because of the modern age of info at the finger tips, and to a lesser extent because of the instant gratification society we live in.

Force Breaking (Force Fetch) used to be considered a radical cure for a specific problem. Retriever trainers 'evolved' it into more normal part of a training curiculum. It has a bad name because of its once radical past, and evokes the ire of the kinder hearted trainers simply because of its name. The Force Fetch and the e-collar are two VERY misunderstood tools. There are plenty of good hunting pedigrees in all the retrieving breeds. Heck, you could probably take any old lab and end up with a pretty decent hunting dog without using either one of them. But the Force Fetch and use of an e-collar can bring precision, crystalization, and control that otherwise would take a very long time to attain.

So, modern trainers realized the merit of force fetching a retriever, how it could be one of the hubs on which they base their training. From that point, the word has gotten out through books, videos, and the internet. Now everyone that looks for info on training a retriever will at least hear about it. The problem is that it is shrouded in a cloud of mystery and legend. If people would just realize it is a very straight forward process, with a very specific end goal, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
Mac,

Don't do that. I agree with your original post and have caught myself several times trying to suggest something OTHER than the Force Fetch simply trying NOT to sound like a broken record. It isn't the cure all for every retrieving ailment, that is for sure. Too many people just throw it out since it seems to be such an obvious solution. Many times it is A solution, but not always THE solution. I always use raising kids as an analogy to dog training. Example, someone has an extremely unruly kid and a 'professional' tells them that some new 'technique' is the cure. While it may be a quick, abrupt, and effective method for addressing the problem, the REAL answer would have been for the parent to have spent more time with the kid when they were younger. So the 'technique' makes everyone feel good about themselves without impuning the parent. That bugs me.

I think this is the point you are trying to make, and if that is true then you see I agree. I just happen to believe that A 'proper upbringing' for a retriever CAN include the Force Fetch. Not that it has to, or that there is no other way. I just look at it as somewhat of a guarantee. So I do what you do AND Force Fetch the dog.

Just my opinion...
 

· Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
aaron said:
Steve,

Agree and disagree....I think . Let me make sure I understand what you're saying; that any kind of FB/FF is subjective to the dog at hand ?
No, what I was trying to say is that I don't always think that FF is the real answer to every problem where it seems to fit. For instance, if someone has a three year old dog that has never really trained and they decide they want to get the dog out hunting. They sent him off to puppy school 2.5 years prior, so it knows sit, stay, and here. With the new found desire to hunt the dog they get out in the field and throw some retrieves. Right off the bat the dog won't always return with the dummy, or won't deliver to hand. "What do I do?" they ask. Answer comes back to Force Fetch the dog. Sure, they could probably get away with it. It will be painful for the dog and the trainer, but they can get through it. This is the kind of scenario where I hate to see that. The problem is that the owner expects the dog to go from being Air Bud in the backyard with a tennis ball to Drake the DU dog, and they think the FF will bring it to them. What I'm saying is that person should at least try to start over with the dog. Go back through basic OB, then on to OB enforced with light pressure. It is the owners fault that THEY didn't do what they should have done in the formative years of the dog. But they don't want to admit that and instead are looking for a quick fix. It wil work if done properly, I just think it is wrong for the dog to suffer because of the lazyness of the owner. Thus my analogy of the parent that didn't spend enough time with their kid.

My opinion is that the Force Fetch is the sturdy frame that one erects on top of a solid foundation (obedience). But I also believe that the amateur trainer who can spend TONS of time with his dog can have a huge advantage over a professional trainer. Retrieving breeds are so intelligent and eager to please that one could get just about the same performance without force fetching, if the bond between the dog and handler is strong enough. BUT, that leaves a lot up to the dog, and I choose not to do that. I get on the OB early so that by the time the dog is 6 months old I can introduce the e-collar, then move straight into the FF. After that, a whole new world opens up to the trainer and the things that can be accomplished are truly remarkable.

As for the FF being subjective to the dog at hand, in my opinion it is. Just like gsphunter said, it depends on the age of the dog, the level of prior training, and the dogs tolerance to pain (putting it bluntly). You'll take a different approach to force fetching a 7 month old dog than you would a 3 year old. The second factor that is often magnified by age is the level of training the dog has had. In other words, has it been taught how to learn. If not, the FF is one hell of a way to try and beat that concept into a dogs head. The level of pain they can handle does vary from dog to dog, and it is up to the trainer to determine the proper level. If you have a dog with a very low tolerance and you go straight to the heavy stuff, you could very well ruin the dog. The inverse would be using very light pressure on a dog with a high tolerance. This could result in an ineffective Force Fetch experience. This happened to me my first time around. My dog was smart and could handle pain. I taught him HOLD, FETCH, and GIVE, but I didn't convey how serious I was. So in the field, he didn't have the 'enthusiasm' of other dogs. I soon figured out that I had just 'Fetched' the dog and had not FORCE Fetched the dog. Back to the table we went, I bit my lip, and the second time around I showed him I was serious. He didn't bleed and his ears weren't tender, but I found that certain level of discomfort I need to apply and I applied it, no questions asked. When he came down off the table after that second round, he was spinning gravel and falling all over himself to get whatever I told him to fetch. I had to put a bolt in that dog's collar and press his ear down on it. That might be way too much for some dogs, but for him it was just right. I also follow up the 'traditional' Force Fetch with a reinforcement using the e-collar (after collar conditioning). This drives the point home in a big way and makes it crystal clear what is going on.

So I don't consider myself a hard-ass, and I don't condone the Force Fetch under every circumstance. I believe in doing it right and using the Force Fetch as a step in training versus an event that is dictated by circumstances.

I hope that made sense!
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top