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This thread was started in the Setter behaviour group but I think both Susan and I felt it would be better in the main section as we have plenty of field-trail setters owners that may be able to give a hint. I have trained and competed with differant dogs but have found one scecific problem with most of my setters = Retrieving.
It started with my first ever setter, I was used to training german Shephards and there was no problem to teach them to retrieve. It was a piece of cake...just throw something...and they fetched it.
Well ALMOST as easy as that.
I tried the same with my first setter and came to a grinding halt.
I went to see Mr James (Wendover kennels in England) and told him about my problem.
(These were the early 70's...so perhaps english rules were differant, I dont know) but Mr James told me that a setter was NOT supposed to retrieve! After all, that was what you had other breeds for!
I then moved to Sweden and found setters retrieving at field-trials.
No problem.
Well generally I feel that (compared to other breeds) the irish setters I breed are not too happy about retrieving. A few have been naturals, but frankly most of them NOT.
Susan has a young dog that appears to retrieve everything...but not cold game.
Any suggestions?
We can try to copy in the beginning of the discussion so you can see how far we have got and what suggestions you may have?

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Oh I am a definate kitchen-trainer Susan. Plus the bathroom for sit, down, stand as I have tiles there and a slightly higher step...and at times the studio...and the hall.
But the kitchen is allways the starting-point.
For the better grip I tried jumping, and running with dumb-bell. Same solution as you Susan except I was running together with the dog...but they still did not grip hard enough when it came to the metal.

PS I hope you did not miss the net-stocking/brain-net comment! I was actually quite pleased about the stockings...:-))
I loved your mushy brain comment!! I don't do hunting or obedience(yet!)(just showing and agility)but I found that my setters generally dont like to retrieve very much and dont like to pick up hard objects! I know there are always exceptions to that rule!! All of mine will pick up socks, tennis balls, soft toys etc. but they hate hard rubber toys! My german shepherd on the other hand would pick up almost anything and his grip is so strong! Perhaps the fact that setters were bred to point is why they dont do retrieves as naturally, as labradors, cockers etc.? In our field qualification here in Ireland the setters dont have to do a retrieve(as far as I know!) Not sure if that has changed since we became full FCI members! Will have to check up on that!
If you read the intro-text, Mr. James (Wendover) actually was quite upset about me complaining about this non-retrieving setter...
I am glad to hear that setters dont have to retrieve in Ireland!
As for them retrieving here in Scandinavia, I have been told they are supposed to be very soft-mouthed. Differance being that a german pointer (for instance) is supposed to hand over only dead game (he needs the killing instinct) where as the setter is supposed to hand over the game as found...(could be alive in other words).
Yes it was all so easy with my German Shephards!
And they DO grip!
In fact that can be a problem with them...chewing and trying NOT to let go of the dumb-bell. I certainly NEVER had that problem with my setters :=))).
They sure do have a soft, sensitive mouth! Poor Luka(shepherd) cannot understand why the setters will not grip his offered toy to play tug of war! As soon as he pulls they let go!! But he will continue to offer the toy for a game, so I oblige instead, as I wont let go!;o)
I have exactly the same situation here...French Bulldog trying to play tug-of-war with the setters...on the other hand, a french Bulldog the size of a setter would be no joke! The soft mouth is part of the general softness and gentleness of the Irish setter. Its just us humans being stupid enough to dream up rules were a dog needs to jump over a jump, pick up a dumb-bell in metal and then jump back with it...and then try to do all this with a setter that originally was bred only to find and point...:=)))

(would not want to jump over a jump with a metal dumb-bell in my mouth either!)
I think the problem with retrieving setters began a couple of hundred years ago when retiever breeds were developed - how many of them? Golden, Labrador, Chesapeake Bay, Flatcoated, Curly coated, NSDT. The setters find the birds, the gun shoots them, the retriever fetches them back. That's how it has been - at least here in their countries of origin. Then again there are the 'Versatiles' GSPs, Vizsla etc... if you want a dog the hunts, points and retieves.
I had no luck with Dusty - I would throw a ball for him - he would race after it and bring it back. I would throw it again - he would give me an old-fashioned look as if to say, "OK, you don't want it then, if you keep throwing it away - I'm off to do some serious hunting!!"

'Horses for courses' ;o)) But if you want your setter to retrieve a bit of inclination in the dog and not a little patience in yourself and you should get there !!
Sorry, I'm missing 'my' discussion - I've been out all morning: sunday from 8 -12am is search dog training session. We Swiss enjoy getting up early :o))

Well Ursula, I do quite a bit of hall training too - ideal for recall into the front position. The bathroom so far no, but who knows what is still to come if I follow all your training hints!!?? I've not yet found the brain netting and my style of stockings is not the type you suggest;-)) But I'll keep looking!

I have found that the difficulty of holding metall or other unusual material can be quite easily avoided if the puppies get to know all these things at a very early age. From 2 weeks of age my pups find all sorts of funny things in their whelping box: a glass bottle, iron tube, a metal tin... they play with these items and do not shrink from the feel of it. Most dogs only ever have soft fluffy toys and are then shocked when confronted with anything else.

I play alot with toys by throwing first one and being ready with another when the dog brings toy 1 back close to me. I do not expect hand delivery in this stage!
When starting on serious retrieve I do not throw things for the dog to fetch. I click & reward in the kitchen for just touching the object with the nose, next step is that I do not reward the touch but wait for him to try something else - usually he will try to mouth the object, this I click & reward. I slowly increase the length of time before I click and get him to hold the object for a bit longer. It helps that all my dogs will retrieve and know the kitchen routine, so a young dog can see what the other dogs are doing and is then also given the oportunity. I have all four sitting there awaiting their turn. It works well for me this way. And you are right Ann, patience is a must: I try to build up the retrieve over months (or years?) not weeks.
Correct to take everything in small steps!
Although I train without other dogs in the kitchen to begin with. Thinking they will disturb the beginner...but once they know what to do, this works great.
No brain netting Susan?
No motorist should be without one!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are normally in first-aid-kits for motorists. To begin with I had no idea as to what they were for...pretty bloody gruesom! And I have a strong feeling I would not be up to administering THAT sort of first aid.
As for getting up early (search-training), I should think its like my army-dog-training used to be...at the crack of dawn and sometimes in the middle of the night as well...the worst was that you had to wear all that camo-outfit + cap and giant boots for ALL training.
PLUS (my personal stumbling stone) all zippers on your jacket done up!!!!!!!!!!
Going somewhat off the subject here......:-))
i love your conversation and trying to learn from it!
we were on a field training this weekend and danka showed no interest in picking up the quail. i did not blame her - i would not want to pick it up either with my mouth :-) i brought it back home, knowing that odin would do it (she wouldn't do it when young, by the way) and already some minutes after odin was walking around the appartment with it, danka just had to do it also :-))) also strange that danka would retrieve dummies, sticks, balls, mobile phones, cadavers, etc - but no birds, thank you. but we work on it, please keep on writing here, so i have more and more ideas what could work for her.

one funny story: my parents were visiting me some years ago, mum wanted to look for some food in the freezer and suddenly she started to scream: "aaaaah, there is a dead bird next to the ice cream!" :-)))) guess if they think i am crazy...
About the picking up of birds with (vile) feathers, perhaps YOU have got an old pair of net-stockings (like the ones that Susan is lacking)...
Just a thought Laura...:-))
sure, i use netstockings every day :-))) even on shows and doggie walks and and and :-))))
but i have an emergency box and i know that there is something similar inside which will do.

yes, please come and hold that retrieving class. for free of course as we are friends :-))))

seriously now: do you think that there is a difference in teaching retrieving game, bird, etc versus metalstuff? or is it the same method?
Well Laura, I sort of knew you would be the netstocking-type...they tend to look great with burrs attached as well! :-)

For the actual question: Basically retrieving is retrieving, but there are the (sometimes personal) likes and dislikes of differant dogs.

Metal is not nice in the dogs mouth...its cold (nasty in winter) it does not lend itself to be gripped.
You can start by getting the dog used to gripping metal that has been covered in tape...reduce admount of tape until you are down to the bare metal. (I am now talking about a dog that knows what the object is but that does not want to take the metal).

Birds will be nasty in the way that they loose feathers. Pigions (spelling?) are among the worst! Therefore DO NOT start with them! Start with something that will hold on to its feathers (even after death). Use net that we have discussed before...or something like it and reduce further (less net = bigger holes in net etc) until you end up with just the bird. But (just as Susan) I would start with a wing...indoors etc. A wing is also great to carry in your pocket (well OK-ish at least) and can be dropped when on walks and then found (WOW!!!!!!!!!!) by sheer accident by the dog!

Use your imagination!
Not all methods work with all dogs...but you have got to give each method a longer try before you skip it!





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