When to introduce a dummy?

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by caroleb, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    I'm very excited - we've booked Rusty in for his grade 1 gun dog training which starts at the end of July. While I don't shoot I do want to give him something stimulating to do and he seems to show good potential. For example when ever anything moves Barney will automatically chase and bark. Rusty will sit at my side and watch carefully, not following the example of his big pack brother thank goodness!

    Because I'm completely new to training a puppy I've deliberately not attempted to teach any kind of fetch/retrieve game knowing that it's harder to unteach bad habits. The course paperwork instructs me to bring along a 1lb dummy so my question is should I keep up the complete ignorance until we get to our first lesson or should I introduce Rusty to it before hand? If so - how?
     
  2. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    5,503
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Carole

    Sorry for the delay, I missed this post.

    Steadiness is very important, but is usually taught after the pup is retrieving keenly. You do need to get Rusty retrieving with enthusiasm as a priority.

    Is there anything at all that Rusty likes to retrieve at the moment?

    Pipp
     
  3. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Pippa

    only food ;D

    In the garden if I throw or kick a ball or toy Barney will run and grab it and play with it. Rusty watches. There is a hard chew toy shaped like a bone that he will carry around which he has retrieved on occasion as Barney has no interest in it.

    What the best way to start getting him to retrieve? I'm ahead of you on step 1 - lock barney away!

    thanks Carole
     
  4. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    5,503
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Carol
    You are right about keeping Barney well away. ;)

    I normally start pups retrieving from eight or nine weeks. First chasing a stuffed sock or a tennis ball, sometimes I use a puppy dummy. Then I progress quite quickly to a white rubber dummy cos its easy to see, though most trainers use the green 1lb canvas ones.

    I never make any attempt at steadiness until the puppy is retrieving keenly. And I try and set things up so that the pup is encouraged to return into my arms. Throwing a dummy in a hallway or an alley is a great help.

    With small pups it is not usually difficult to get them chasing after a thrown object, but sometimes you have to be a bit silly and tease them with it a tiny bit to get their interest.

    Because Rusty is somewhat older, and has not been retrieving yet, you may find it takes a little more encouragement to get him interested in the retrieve. You will need to do whatever it takes to get him running out after the thrown object. Sometimes a bouncing ball is more attractive. He may run out after it several times but be unsure about picking it up, if so, try a few times then put the dummy or ball away and try again tomorrow. Let us know how he reacts, because there are different things you can do, depending on how he behaves.

    If you cannot trigger the retrieve in this way, don’t worry, you can teach a formal retrieve with a clicker. But this will take a couple of weeks and may not be complete by the time your course starts. In addition, your course trainer is unlikely to be able to help you with this as very few gundog trainers use a clicker.

    On balance, even though it has been left a little late, I think a natural retrieve is a better option if you can get one going, and will certainly be quicker.

    If you find he picks up straight away, all well and good, but don’t overdo it. A couple or three throws every couple of days will keep the whole thing special and a treat. And keep the retrieving object you use, (ball, sock or dummy) well out of his way between sessions. This needs to be a special, precious game that the two of you play together if and when you chose.

    Once he has picked up the retrieve you may need to encourage him in to you by backing away. It all depends on how he reacts. Keep us posted and good luck

    Pippa
     
  5. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    thanks so much Pippa - ah now socks he does like to pinch from my washing basket so that's where we'll start :)
     
  6. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Well I think the start could be described as flying!

    I used a pair of rolled socks threw it gently and he retrieved without hesitation 4 times in a row. Once he picked up he came straight on a "come" call back to me and was only a little reluctant to give it up.

    Socks are now put away for next time.

    ;D

    So I guess progression is trying different environments and longer throws gradually?
     
  7. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    5,503
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Well done, that’s fantastic. Take it slowly and keep it upbeat and fun. Get yourself the 1lb dummy you need for your course and if he hesitates to pick it up, all you will need to do is pop your sock over it to encourage him to pick it up. Once he is used to the extra weight you can lose the sock. :)

    Make all the retrieves nice and easy for him, no throwing into the undergrowth yet! The object is to get him racing out nice and fast, and build up his confidence that retrieving is easy and fun!
     
  8. Sam

    Sam Registered Users

    Joined:
    May 19, 2011
    Messages:
    404
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Carole

    Well done with the socks - every dog has his weakness!

    Do remember, no matter how keen he seems, one retrieve too many and they get bored with the whole game! Keep him keen with tiny doses!

    Good luck!

    Sam
     
  9. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    HI again

    well the first few sessions went really well - max 4 throws in the kitchen all retrieved well and excited - sock ball put away in between and only "played" every other day. Then tried in the garden - zero interest so put it straight away then tried again in kitchen a few hours later was fine.

    today tried in the kitchen and not bothered at all on first throw - so what next - wait and try a bouncing ball? I do play with the toy myself to try and arouse his curiosity and try to make him want it.

    In his obedience class we train with treats but I've found that he's so food motivated that it takes his mind off the job - for example we can do a 2 minute stay if no obvious food around but less than 30 seconds if he thinks there's a reward going - he wriggles in closer! So I haven't tried treating for a retrieve - is this worth a go?

    good news is my gun dog training now not starting until aug 13th as I switched class.

    any tips welcome!
     
  10. Paul

    Paul Registered Users

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    Messages:
    48
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Caroleb,

    Please keep us updated with how you go on with your Training course, this is the avenue that I wish to go down, when I actually do select my Pup. All the best, dont forget most Dog training is actually about training the Handler!!

    Regards,
    Paul.
     
  11. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    5,503
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    Hi Carole
    It is ‘touch and go’ as to whether you would get the clicker retrieve well established before your course starts. You cannot use food treats for retrieving on an ad hoc basis, you would need to commit to the clicker retrieve.
    If you use food for retrieving without following a carefully thought out strategy, you will simply end up with a dog that ‘spits out’ the dummy onto the floor.

    Focus on outdoor retrieves for now, these tend to be more exciting for the dog than indoor ones. Let us know how you get on
    Pippa
     
  12. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    795
    Re: When to introduce a dummy?

    thanks Pippa

    a little bit of an unexpected breakthrough this morning. I was trying to encourage Barney back into the kitchen using his squeaky tennis ball so I threw it and... Rusty chased it and brought it back! beating Barney off the mark! He was very surprised when I gave him sooo much fuss. I chanced it and threw it a second time and again Rusty got there and brought it back and got major fuss.

    Its the first time he's shown interest in getting anything thrown for Barney and it's a bit of a relief as he's just not been that interested so far.

    (I do know the arguments against squeaky toys for gun dogs but Barney adores them and he's def not a gun dog)
     

Share This Page