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Mouthing the retrieve

Have a very aggressive 8 month old chocolate lab that is being trained to force retrieve. He is doing great on the bench. He will fetch, hold & leave it on command. He loves the bench so much that anytime we go near it he jumps on it and waits for me to work with him. When we first started he really wanted to chew so I took an old 3" dummy, cut it in half & inserted a 2" diameter PVC pipe & glued it back together. This stopped the chewing real fast. I have started to work him on being steady & he is doing well but sometimes he still will drop the dummy or attempt to chew on it. When he does I stop the session and put everything away for the day. Is this the correct thing to do or should I take him back to the bench a work him a bit more? He never wants to stop.

I have ordered an e-collar and plan to use it as reinforcement for what he has already learned. I don't want to rush him but he is so aggressive and dummy crazy that I feel I may be taking it a little slow. I haven't introduced birds yet and was wondering if you felt it might be time to start him on the bench with birds?

This is the second dog I have trained & I am thinking of joining a retriever club & starting him on some hunt & retriever trials. The first one I trained was mainly a hunting dog that got some work on blinds & was taught to handle fairly well.

Any ideas on what to do with this very aggressive pup? I think sometime he makes mistakes because he is just so excitable & just loses his mind at times.

Your retriever sounds like a fun pup to work. The hard chargers are always fun because they keep you on your toes.

I don't know how long you have had the dog on the table but it sounds like you need to spend a little more time there. You are exactly right in ending the training session when he chews or drops the bird. This technique avoids putting pressure on the pup when he is at your side for chewing. Pressure on the pup while at your side can cause worse problems (remember this when you get your collar). The mouthing at heel is likely the result of moving on to steadying the pup before he really understands the force fetch. Work on mouthing issues on the table and away from the marking field.

I would not start work with birds until the pup is steady. This dog sounds like a high roller and introducing birds now will likely make control an issue and worsen his mouthing. When you do introduce birds do so on the table and go back to the early phases of force training. Start with a frozen bird then carefully move on to a fresh kill and finally a live bird. Chewing or mouthing should be corrected immediately.

Please take extreme care when you use your E-collar. It sounds like you have a really nice pup. the E-collar will give you the tools to teach and correct in a way that you cannot otherwise do. It will also put you on the edge of destroying your dog. Use it rarely and wisely under the supervision of an experienced trainer to get the maximum benefit.

If you want to learn more about the Force Fetch, and Basic Steadying and Marking, please visit my website and download my retriever training e-Books at .

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retrievers

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