Clicker Retrieving with Gracy

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by dbrs4me, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. dbrs4me

    dbrs4me Registered Users

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    Gracy is Black Labrador Retriever that doesn't retrieve. I saw Pippa's article on totallygundogs.com and thought "Here's my chance." I got a couple clickers and set to work charging. Gracy loved that, hear a click, get a treat, she figured that one out quick. I even got her to come up the stairs and seek me out. Charging worked great.

    Back to retrieving, I'm not a hunter, but love playing fetch with a willing participant. Gracy loves to chase something down, just not give it back. Given that she doesn't need any incentive to pick an item up, I moved on to the release. I took her outside, placed a ball on the ground and she picked it up and promptly ran off with it. I'm standing back where I started just clicking away as Gracy prances through the yard with her ball. She was so happy to get the ball that she really didn't care what I was doing. When she let me get close enough to her I was finally able to distract her long enough, by throwing treats at her, for me to get the ball. OK, the yard was a bad idea, let's try the garage.

    In the garage, I but the ball down, she picks it up, can't go anywhere with it, so she pretty much just sits there and watches me. When I reach for the treats, she drops the ball and drools at me. I give her the treat and she eats it and picks up the ball again. There really isn't any rhyme or reason to when she picks it up and drops it. I think I may have answered my own question. I need to make her hold on to the ball for a bit before clicking, right? Pick up the ball, wait, wait, C&T. Just work up from there? I used up what treats I had set out for the session, and I was getting frustrated, so I just stopped for the night.

    Gracy really responds well to the clicker and I think I can use it for a lot of different things, I just need some validation that I am working the right way. My fear is she is going to give me the ball back when I'm in the garage, but when she gets room to move I am going to be out of luck.

    Thanks for listening.
     
  2. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    I'm certainly no expert and haven't used a clicker with Juno (although my Italian Spinone was clicker trained), but I think I would go back a step or two and focus on Gracy just giving a toy back to you when asked for a click a treat. When she is giving the toy up with no problems try it with a ball, but take your time you want a good give before you start adding any fetch into the equation. Also I would work on the give in different places so Gracy learns to just give something back with out any problems.

    I'm sure other will be along and provide lots of advice on the C&T and also for proper retrieve skills.
     
  3. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hi and welcome to the forum!

    Firstly, I want to address use of the clicker ... I think you may be a bit confused about how it should be used.

    It should be used as an event marker to mark when the dog is doing something right. For example, if you ask for a sit, the dog sits, you C&T. If you recall the dog and it comes to you, you C&T. It's great for reinforcing offered behaviours, so if you're on a walk and the dog chooses to come and check in with you, great, C&T.

    It is not an attention-getter, nor a cue to do something. It's not a recall device, so getting her to "seek you out" by clicking isn't a great idea. During charging, it's simply "when I hear the click, I get a treat without doing anything for it". Then, as you start training with it, you use it as a marker to say "Hey! That, right there is what I'm after!". So, if Gracy is prancing around, by clicking, you're actually saying "Awesome! Carry on doing just that!". You need to reserve the click for marking when she's doing something you want her to do.
     
  4. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    If the retrieve is important to you, then go ahead and ignore that for now, until you're both used to using the clicker. It's a fabulous tool, but if used incorrectly, it can create more confusion and stress for the dog rather than making things easy.

    Start by training something that really doesn't matter. I'd say a touch or something easy like that.

    So, you'd get a piece of mat, or a box, or whatever you want to use - it doesn't matter. Not anything you want to use later on "for real". Put it on the floor and wait for her to look at it. As soon as she does, click and treat. Each and every time she looks, C&T. Make sure your click is timed for the precise moment she looks, not afterwards. When she is doing this confidently and without fail for ten goes in a row, try withholding a click. Then wait. She'll probably look at the object, then at you, then back at the object. Eventually, she'll take a step towards it. Click that. As soon as she moves towards it. Gradually, increase your requirements so that she only gets a C&T for her nose touching it.

    When you feel confident that your timing is spot on, then you can start looking at doing more important behaviours.

    Some people recommend getting a ball - well apart from the dog! - and bouncing it on the floor, trying to click just as the ball hits the ground, to help with your timing.
     
  5. dbrs4me

    dbrs4me Registered Users

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    Awesome advice. I will back up a little and try a different approach for a while. Thank you.
     
  6. dbrs4me

    dbrs4me Registered Users

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    Ok. I worked with Gracy and got her to the point where she would scoot a lid around the floor with her nose. Ami ready to start with the retrieve yet? I just want to make sure I'm ready to proceed in the right direction. Thanks
     
  7. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    If you're confident that your timing with the click is good and Gracy understands the concept of the click, go ahead and start working on the elements of the clicker retrieve. Pippa has a series of articles on it on our sister site: http://totallygundogs.com/clicker-trained-retrieve/
     

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