Young lab with retrieve delivery problem

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Jon Bolland, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. Jon Bolland

    Jon Bolland Registered Users

    Apr 3, 2018
    Hello Pippa / all,

    I’ve got an approx. 4-month old black lab. She runs out and brings back retrieves no problem! When she gets to me she chews / mouths the dummy (I’ve tried various shapes and sizes) which she tends to drop, though she will pick it back up. She has done it from her first retrieve and I hoped (perhaps wrongly) she would ‘grow out of it’. I also wasn’t too bothered at first given she was coming straight back. I’m now beginning to worry that this is becoming engrained behaviour which will be difficult to correct in the future.

    When she does return I am bending down on one knee to praise. She is rather excitable, though, regardless of how calm I remain. She will also try and climb on me, which is also the case I kneel down when she doesn’t have a dummy. I am trying not to over handle her, i.e. by reaching for the dummy more quickly to avoid her mouthing / dropping it and/or by putting her into a sit position (without the command) to calm her down. When I do the former I’m fearful I’m encouraging a poor delivery and when I do the latter she tends to drop the dummy quicker.

    As I see it, I have two options…

    1) Not worry. In other words, I continue to praise her return and let her ‘play’ with the dummy and continue to ‘hope’ I can train out in the future. The main questions here are ‘when’ and ‘how’ does that happen??

    2) We absolutely nail ‘the sit’ first. In other words, I don’t do any more retrieves until I know she will sit and ‘deliver’ the dummy properly as soon as she returns. We are some way off this so has serious potential to ‘weaken’ the sit command if I try sooner. If I see this through it could be many weeks without retrieving, which I’d prefer to avoid. Other complications then include:

    a. I am currently using food as a reward for the sit… I don’t want to do this when she does sit with a dummy because it will encourage her to drop the retrieve sooner.

    b. If she doesn’t sit properly / immediately when instructed I could correct her ‘manually’ to put her in the sit position but she will probably drop the dummy.

    c. What if she drops the dummy once sat? Should I let her get it with/without instruction or simply correct for breaking the sit.

    All in all, I’m not quite sure what course of action to take next. Any help / advice / tips greatly appreciated!!!


  2. Valkyrie

    Valkyrie Registered Users

    Feb 7, 2018
    First off are you planning on hunting fowl or hunt tests or both? If you only want a a good hunting dog I wouldn't worry about her dropping the bird when she returns if you want to do hunt tests then she need to learn to "hold it". I did this by placing the bumper in his mouth and saying "hold it". When he dropped it I would say "no" "Hold". If he wanted to spit it out I would place my hand under his chin so he couldn't drop the bumper. I do not believe in force fetch and I never pinched like I was told to do. That seems cruel to me. Once he understood "hold" then as he was coming to me I would re- enforce that command by saying good "hold" as he got closer I would say it more " hold it" " hold it" if he dropped it I would simply pick up place back in his mouth and say "no hold". I didn't worry about sitting until we had a good solid retrieve with him holding his bird or bumper.

    I have found that he chews on a bumper but not the birds not sure why but as long as my birds are not chewed up I didn't worry about it.
  3. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Feb 10, 2012
    At four months I let a pup climb all over me when carrying a puppy dummy or ball to encourage the pup to come close to me. I definitely don't ask for a sit. If it's offered great, but I don't ask for it. A narrow corridor or retrieving lane will encourage the pup to come back to you. Most important bit is that everything you do is fun so that retrieving turns into the best game ever.
    Naya likes this.
  4. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

    Aug 27, 2014
    Andorra and Spain
    For dogs who spit, you can use a "reverse lure" with food in your hand to encourage duration on the hold. If you look up "Retrieving For All Occasions", there is a free video series that shows the process.

    However, as Heidrun says (and she is FAR more experienced than I), for such a young puppy, I would be playing games rather than looking for anything formal. With my young pup, I had her climbing all over me with all her toys to encourage proximity with them. Now, she will bring me pretty much anything because it's such a great game and she started offering a sit and delivery to hand really early on without me having to train it, just because that's what made the fun happen. I had far more success with her than I did being more structured and methodical with my two older dogs, even though I was using positive reinforcement, it simply wasn't as fun.
  5. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

    May 24, 2012
    Hi and welcome Jon! I agree with the above comments - just make it a huge amount of fun right now, don't worry about a perfect delivery, encourage your pup to come right in to you, give hugs and cuddles, don't even take the dummy/toy away each time - don't give her the feeling that if she brings something to you, it gets taken away. Either take it gently off her, and then offer it back again, or give another toy to hold as an immediate reward. But above all - relax, your girl is a baby still; just play with her for now. Plenty of time for the serious stuff later!
  6. Candy

    Candy Registered Users

    Sep 23, 2017
    West Yorkshire
    Yes! Absolutely still a baby! Plenty of time for the rest later, but never stop it being about fun and love!

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