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Discussion Starter #1
So, I got Noelle a dumbbell. She wanted to paw it and chew the bell end, of course, because to her it looks like a bone. So, I held onto the bell ends and rewarded for taking it. She takes it in the center of the stick from different angles, which is good. I accidentally dropped the dumbbell off my bed. Noelle jumped off my bed, grabbed the dumbbell by the stick, jumped back on the bed and handed it to me. Well, that was unexpected! Retrieve and jumping is something she can do apparently. Not bad for the first day.

What Noelle cannot do is sit and hold anything in her mouth. She spits out her tennis ball, tug toy, first and then sits. If she is sitting and I put something toward her mouth, she will take it and drop it instantly. How can I get Noelle to realize I want her to hold something and keep it in her mouth until I ask for it?

This is Noelle, remember. She is softer than a microwaved marshmallow, so any kind of physical punishment will not work with her. She'll shut down and cringe. I'm thinking about shaping a sit while holding something in her mouth using anything but a dumbbell, and then transitioning to the dumbbell once she has the idea she can sit and hold something.

Am I on the right track, or being a dumbbell?
 

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Join the club. I have Babykins jumping over the jump to retrieve her dumbbell and she comes back in front position nicely .......... and promptly lets the dumbbell drop if I don't get my hand under it quick enough. With time I've gotten her to hold it a little longer - long enough hold for WCRL rally but not long enough for Obedience. This is with a dog that refuses to retrieve any toy. I did a lot of shaping.

There are all kinds of variations of ear pinches and I've been avoiding those. I know so many people who have said they dog wouldn't hold until they did the ear pinch. I hope I'm not one of them because Babykins is a marshmallow too.

We've taken a little vacation from the "hold" part - so I'm curious to how other respond.
 

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I would to take hold give in a marshmallowy way for a soft dog. Start with Noelle sitting in front of you. Hold the dumbbell at the level of her muzzle and tell her to take it. If she reaches for the bit (and try to only have her hold it by the bit and to not roll or chomp on it) then let her hold it just for a second and if needed keep your hand under her lower jaw so she can't spit it out and with her looking up at you. Tell her to give and her her put it onto your waiting hand and give her a cookie right away. Gradually you will have her hold it longer and longer (you can tell her good hold and keep your hand under her muzzle for a while). Once she is taking and holding it that way you will lower the hand that is offering the dumbbell until she will take it off the floor. After you get her to take it off the floor you can add duration to the hold. If she drops it tell her to take it again. Don't get into the habit of picking it up for her. Your want her to learn that is her job to take it and hold it first. Then you can start to toss it just a couple of feet and keep her on a leash as she picks it up tell her to come and stand where you were when you tossed the dumbbell and if you can hold the leash under her chin to make it hard for her to drop it. Give her a treat when she comes close enough for you to take the dumbbell without moving your feet, no treat if she is too far from you.


You can separately try tying a sturdy string to the bit of the dumbbell and drag it around for her to stimulate prey drive desire to catch the dumbbell critter. That prey drive is likely to promote a better hold on it, so keep moving once she picks it up and see if that happens.


I had to do a lot of work to get Javelin to retrieve. He does have prey drive, but aside from interactive toys like the flirt pole he really doesn't play anything that resembles fetch. If you look at some of the older YouTube videos linked to in Javvy's training blog you will see me running him around with the dumbbell on the string. Later you will see him on leash with the dumbbell and me backing away from him. I thought his retrieving was going to forever be problematic and although there are things I don't love yet (he pounces on and swats the dumbbell before he picks it up) he is retrieving pretty reliably on the flat and is getting the idea of retrieving over the jump.


I used to say he couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time as an analogy between walk and carry the dumbbell. Now that is all in the past. You will have to shape it, but you will get Noelle to hold and sit at the same time.
 

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Ahh Lucky had this problem. He likes to take new objects I give him and stash it in his pile next to his bed. Here is what I did. I’ve been using water bottles as dumbbells, and eventually hope to upgrade to purses. I would tell him to take it and to stay. To make sure he doesn’t drop it I bottom of his jaw. Then I tell him “hold”. He quickly realized what it means and will “hold” things for a high value treat. Repeat this with the hand under jaw until you no longer need to.

I think Molly had a thread on this a few months ago. Donna Hill also has a great video on this. It would be good to experiment with a bunch of items with varying textures.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Two things Noelle adores: fetch and tug. She's a tennis ball fetching maniac and will fetch until she can't stand. So, I have that going for me. She also loves tug. I think tying a tug toy to the bit, and giving her the opportunity to grab it and really hang on to it for fun is probably my best bet for getting her super interested in holding the dumbbell. I can reduce the width of the tug until it's a string and then remove it. I actually have an unraveled rope toy that I can use. Grab and hold on for dear life, Noelle.

The sit part, yeah, that's gonna be interesting, but that's down the road. My trainer, Karen, suggested getting cat food and a metal spoon and encouraging the dog to chomp on the metal spoon to get the cat food. Bite down on metal dear one. Utility is a thing we're doing some day. But first, Novice A and Rally Novice A. October 5th is coming fast. Ready or not, here we come!
 

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Now that I have a good dumbbell retrieve with Javelin on a plastic dumbbell I plan to mix in using a wood dumbbell to get him used to picking up things with different textures. I also periodically give him a leather utility article for a take and hold so he can practice not chomping on it.


I am now starting take and hold with utility gloves too and will start giving him winter gloves too so he can pick up my gloves if I drop them.


For utility remember you can do any two of three types of articles: leather, wood or metal. I am using leather and wood. Lily had a horrible time dealing with metal articles. Her original metals (back before you could use wood) were aluminum and she would take and hold, but never scented and picked one up. She would dutifully hold the metal article while I helped her hang onto it looking at me like I was poisoning her. I think she was having a galvanic reaction to the aluminum. Once I switched to mason jar ring (steel) articles she was doing them reliably almost instantly. After that the rules changed to allow wood and wood was even happier for her to work.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wood and leather??????? Really? Oh wow!! I am really really happy about this. So much better for the dog, also metal doesn't hold scent as well, either. Wood and leather will hold scent much easier and I can see Noelle being much happier grabbing them for me.
 

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The choice of wood as one of the article types is relatively recent and was most welcome by many people, although I still see "old timers" using leather and metal. I will probably train Javelin for all of them (along with picking up many other things in the long run) but plan to do wood and leather. He happily takes leather but is a little sketchy on wood which is why I sometimes give him a wood dumbbell.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
So, I got Noelle to bite down on the dumbbell tonight instead of licking it. Then I asked for a sit, while I held on to the dumbbell with her. She sat and held it for half a second before putting it in my hand. Today's goal was for Noelle to discover she can sit with something in her mouth. It's like teaching her to pat her head and rub her tummy, but she'll get there.

My secondary goal is teaching Noelle that beating the crap out of my arms with her claws to get the dumbbell is not what I want. That goal is a long way off. I haven't been this beaten up since she was a puppy with sharp teeth. Ow!
 

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It is a totally baby steps process sometimes (for Javelin too, but natural for Lily). As you may recall I used to complain that Javelin couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time with respect to the dumbbell. Make sure that as you see her getting to wanting to spit it out you say give so that she associates getting it out of her mouth with your order. This will be important as you start to add duration to the hold since you need Noelle to understand that you decide when holding it ends, not her.


As to mauling you to get the dumbbell it will happen as she gets better understanding of this game. Once you are ready to start throwing it, don't throw unless she is collected and not jumping all over you to get to it.
 

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If Noelle is so excited about getting that dumbbell - then tossing it might add to that over exuberance and you might end up with zoomies etc.

I started by putting the dumbbell a short distance on the floor and asking Babykins to retrieve it. When it's sitting on the floor it's less likely to trigger prey drive compared to throwing it. I kept extending it farther and farther away. Babykins has to sit and watch me take and place it on the floor, wait for me to return to her and wait till I give her the signal "take".

I can't remember when I added in the jumping over a jump to retrieve - I think one of my obedience teachers in class started it when only two of us showed up to class and I had the dumbbell with me. At home I have a narrow opening which is just wide enough for a jump. This forces Babykins to jump to receive and jump to return - which is a good thing. She has no choice and this is the way she always has to do it at home. The few times we've had done retrieve over a jump in class she has always jumped.

As for that darn hold - we practice it separately as mentioned above - have her take it and then reward the heck out of her holding it - even for short amount of time. I touch her face, stroke her nose to her topknot and under her chin. I know for proofing people tap the dumbbell - we're not at that stage yet.

And to get her to return and sit in front with the dumbbell, one of my trainers suggested calling "front" as soon as she picked up the dumbbell - that seemed to work.
 

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Re scent article materials of wood, leather, or metal... Neely started out with metal because we also compete in UKC, where only metal articles are allowed. Then we added leather much later, and it was pretty much like training scent articles from scratch.

CDSP allows scent articles of any material, so long as they're identical and numbered. (I've seen plastic retrieving dumbbells used.) I'm experimenting with brown cotton jersey work gloves with embroidered numbers on the cuff. Training is going pretty well. :)

Remember that AKC will allow any shape of scent article, so long as it is identical, clearly numbered, in an approved material (metal, wood, or leather). There are stories of leather bracelets or baby shoes and metal kitchen items. No doubt wooden children's blocks are also in use somewhere.
 
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