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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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Susan Stone

Permalink Reply by Susan Stone 6 hours ago

I'd really like to join this group if you will accept me?

I have a history of dog training since I was 9 years old - and I'm now 41 and still learning new things every day!!! I am fascinated by the way dogs (or generally all living creatures) learn and am training my young dog Glen trying to follow basic behaviour rules & learning theory. All learning must come from the dog's own motivation and the tricky thing is finding the way for him to really want to do & learn what I do!
I am stunned by the enormous potential he is now showing, coming up to 2 years of age. Having bred him myself and socialized the pups according to the most up to date methods (David Appleby, Esther Schalke, Barbara Schöning) I am truly impressed by what it is possible to achieve.
I train my dogs for search & rescue (competition only), obedience and also field work. I also work with the clicker but not only and have no difficulty not clickering if necessary. But I have found the Clicker an immense help to catch a certain behavious or eye contact at a distance and also having someone else click for me when I am working with my dog, telling us that we are both doing well and deserve a treat!

I'm looking forward to further discussions and possibly help when it comes to retrieving a dead duck....
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ursula wilby

Permalink Reply by ursula wilby 4 hours ago
I honestly feel that you can teach a dog ANYTHING...(once you do the basics correctly). As for retrieving, I have had great problems with all but two of my setters. But then a huge section of my obedience book is about retrieving.
If you have never had a problem with it, you dont learn anything. That is why most books (were authors use retrieving-happy breeds) only have like three lines about it...open mouth, place dummy in mouth ...say good dog.
But there are plenty of dogs that have problems.
And my setters particually so I feel.
My german shephards and poodle just went and got whatever I would throw.
So does the french bulldog...
But the setters...that takes a bit more work.
At least for me!

Susan Stone

Permalink Reply by Susan Stone 1 hour ago

Good to hear this impression confirmed by the expert! But we are getting there - dummies, dumb bells (what a silly name!), his dinner bowl, my mobile phone... you name it - he will retrieve it - but he still says NO to that stinkin' bird (not that I really blame him). His mother Erin is good at making him jealous though and I think he is getting frustrated that she gets all the treats... is that meen?

Maybe we should really transfer this thread to the main section...
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ursula wilby

Permalink Reply by ursula wilby 57 minutes ago
Shall we move this Susan?
I think so!
There will be plenty of field-people with a view on retrieving cold game.

But for now... yes, making him jealous is a good one.
I would go about it like this:
Throw the bird...allow ONLY Erin to retrieve.
Keep Glen on line.
Repeat, repeat, repeat...
After a few days of this, and when you see Glen is REALY wanting to go...let him (and keep Erin on the line).
Keep your fingers crossed!
You have come so far seeing that he retrieves just about anything else, so this actually is no problem.
It just takes a bit of time.
I have also had problems with the metal-dummy (any retrieving actually) with the latest Ob. Ch.
I put down the metal-dummy and served her food.
My dogs will wait until told to eat, so she was told to retrieve although she had the food in front of her.
So (nasty me) no food for two meals. After that she retrieved the metal and THEN got the food.
We then advanced to outdoors.
She (Ettan) loves gazing at my chickens...better than TV etc. She can lay in front of the chickenrun for hours and just stare...so she first had to retrieve and then got to look at the chickens.
Fair payment I thought.
Carried on to FIRST retrieve, then swim in the sea...just to get ot
I dont know if anyone can make head or tail out of the copied version below...it starts of with Susans textmatter and then carries on...is there a better (more understandable) way to copy from one forum to another? Does anyone know?
Sure - I can follow it;-)

Ursula, I think we will carry on the way you suggest - after all, that is how he learnt to retrieve to start with. So I must really go back to basics and have the dead bird in my kitchen with the dog food ready to be served. Anyone wanting food will just have to start with a quick nibble at the bird (well, almost). We will carry on from there.
I made the mistake of assuming I could just replace the dummy with a bird and carry on doing retrieves out in the woods and fields. A typical mistake...

I have put the pheasant into an old stocking to make it easier to start with - not so many feathers to spit out.
If I have a problem, I ALLWAYS go back to the very first beginning and start picking it up from there. I will even do this now and then when I dont have problems. Like rewarding EVERY turn and stop with heel-work even though I am in champion-class. Its to build confidence, I do think that is where most problems are...you may think the dog knows what to do, but in fact that is not so...the dog will become uncertain and so it all goes wrong.
Now I did think of another way for you...take it back even further.
Let him take only part of the bird!
Start with a wing.
Advance to a larger bit...all still indoors.
Then take it outside...start once again with a wing etc.
(I hope you have an ample supply :-)))
Yes, you are absolutely right - I must really start him just with the wing, get him really keen and carry on from there - all indoors, then on our front door step and then further afield. Why did I only want to hurry him along so???

Must go and chop up my bird now. No, I do not have an unlimited supply...

I will post pictures when we've got there!
Im certain that now, with this world-wide settersite, the birds will be flooding in Susan!!!!!!!!!!!
Just put out your adress...and there you are.
Then for the next question: Have you got a big enough freezer for all these retrieving-objects that all friendly setter-owners will send you from all over the globe?
Another thought Susan...Im not too keen about you covering the bird/part of bird with a sock. It is TOO effective at taking away that feathery feel of the bird. Can you get hold of some type of net instead? That will contain the feathers and yet hold them in place.

Second part is that you absolutly MUST have plenty of differant birds. Or you may end up in the situation were he will retrieve HIS bird and no other...

(I had that problem once with a dumb-bell...no problem with the dog, she would retrieve right up to the second I took her to her first competition where I was given a "strange" dumbell. She went out to retrieve, opened her mouth and then just shut it again...not "her" dumb-bell. Makes perfect sense, I was just too daft to see this one coming.
I now have the biggest (and weirdest) selection of dumb-bells in the whole of Sweden...:-)) You just never know what type you may come across when you are competing.

(Im sorry if I am so particular, but I try to train so that every possible failure is avoided. Its better moving forwards with tiny steps than having to take huge steps backwards! Also I think training of dogs for a specific purpose is mainly done in the owners head. Think first, train later!)
Ok Ursula, right again - I will look out for a fishing net (easy for you, being near the sea...) to cover my birds with.
I will try to collect a good selection of bird's wings to start with - that is easier than filling my deep freeze with dozens of different birds.
I have also experienced the difficulty of getting dogs to retrieve ALL gamebirds, not just the ones they are used to at home. I try to get my dogs retrieving all I can think of, just so they get the idea that the word 'fetch' really means just that, whatever they are confronted with. I find they actually seem to enjoy the challenge of fetching something new & unusual... it can lead to unforeseen laughter though, as at one training session Glen decided to fetch the trainer's bottle of water which was lying in the grass. A glass bottle mind you!
Net does not have to mean fishing-net...take netstockings...or the type of net you will find in first-aid-kits (to keep mushy brain in place) or...if none of those net-items appeal to you...wrap the bird (or part of bird) up in string...cotton etc. But no covering sock.
As for differant game.
Are you in a group training?
Swap birds to avoid "MY"-bird-problem!
Let me know how you are getting on!!!!!!!
The main problem IS solved, you just need the last little bit!
Hi Ursula, Hi Susan,

I will try to enter your discussion, although it is quite hard form me to write these details in English.

My old Harry is now nearly 11 years old. When he was a puppy he retrieved all toys. I did not have to teach him that, he just did it. But the dumb-bell was a totally different story. He did not want to take it, I think it was not soft enough. But he learned to retrieve it after some training - that was not too complicated. But what he never leaned was retrieving the metal for Obedience 3 test. I tried it in 100 ways, asked many trainers, but in the end we had no real success. He retrieved the metal only on the floor, but not about the hurdle. He had it so soft in his mouth so that it started to shake when he jumped and so he let the metal fell down.
The best thing for my old Harry was Dummy training. We started when he was 7 years old and he loved it from the first second. The dummies were soft and he could fetch them very good. It was very easy to train him, because he knew how to retriever, he was steady after many years of Obedience training and it was also easy to send him to Blinds in different directions, because he was also trained in Agility to be send in front or left or right.
So I decided not to make the Obedience 3 test, but to let him have fun with Dummies.
Later I tried if he will retrieve cold game, but no way!!! He was shocked about the dead pheasant!!! He never saw these things in his first years of live, so he did not want to pick it up.

The next setter for training to retrieve was Lord, the dog of my husband. Lord did not like toys at all, he never picked up anything. So I started with the clicker – and that worked really well. It took about 3 weeks of daily clicker training and than we was very keen on retrieving a dummy indoor. It took another 2 or 3 weeks till it worked also outside. Then we started with the same Susan die with Erin and Glen. Harry and Lord were sitting and I through a Dummy and Harry was told to retrieve it. After 2-3 dummies for Harry Lord was allowed to go out and fetch it. The motivation was much higher to be very fast.

In the meantime Lord likes it very much when he does Dummy training from time to time. But he will never be so happy about that as my old Harry.
After some month we tried if he would retriever cold game – but it was the same as it was with Harry. He went there, had a very close look, but then he returned without. Then we did not train that for a longer time (until Kathy entered our life).

Kathy was a small puppy when I started with cold game with her. Retrieving was not perfect at that time, but I wanted her to have contact with game as soon as possible.

Indoor we had the place in front of the TV, where she carried all her toys. So I was standing there and waiting for her coming back with the things I wanted her to retrieve. And that worked from the beginning on. I asked her to wait in front of the TV, walked out of the room and put the game some were in the house. Then I asked her to search it and she always come back with the game. In the beginning she retrieved a wing of a pheasant, duck,…
Later small birds I don’t know in English (Rebhuhn) and later total pheasants and ducks. Rabbit we only tried once, because as we have some rabbits in the garden as pets, I don’t feel so good in training with dead rabbits. But Kathy had no problems with the rabbit. The pheasant was harder for her, because she did not know how to pick it up in correct way, but she found out. That training was all inside the house. We only made the first step out. I opened the door to the garden and placed the game half meter outside. That was no problem, she came to the place in front of the TV. But than we had to stop with the further training outside, because she did not retrieve at all. Kathy picked up all the things (balls, game,..), but she went somewhere and laid down and started to play. So I first had to teach her to retrieve outside. As she does not like dummies I did that with tennis balls, that she really loves. But as I am pregnant (hopefully only some more days) we did not train so much, so I took some more time. Now she is retrieving balls outside very well and I started again with dummies. Unfortunately I will not have the time now to go on with training in the next weeks to work her with cold game. So we will see what will happen on the hunting season. My husband will take her to field hunting this season. He knows that she will not retrieve the game, but she will find and point. And maybe when she sees the other dogs retrieving, Kathy also wants to do that.

So that was the retrieving - story of my 3 Setters. By the way my Hungarian Puli is retrieving all thinks I ask him. Just for fun I sent him to a pheasant and he went there, was shocked for a second but then picked it up and retrieved perfect. For the Puli it was no difference between toys, dumb-bell, metal or game. He would be a very good hunting dog for picking up. But that is the typically herding dog - he will always do what you ask him to do, and a Setter has his own mind.

Ulrike, ich glaube wir könnten wohl eigentlich auf deutsch schreiben, aber dann kan das ja leider kein nicht-deutsch-sprechender lesen...also weiter auf englisch.

As for the metal dumb-bell in connection with the jump, I have had problems with all my setters. And the same problems as you Ulrike, The setter does just not grip tight enough (in my experiance) and so my oldest Ob. Champion actually ended up with chipped canine teeth both top and bottom. Due to the jumps and the fact that she WOULD not drop the object.
I tried tons and tons of differant ways to get her to grip harder but it seemed hopeless.
My latest Ob Camp (on my profile-photo) I trained in a differant manner. I had the same problem with the gripping but if you look at the photo you will see that she carries the dumb-bell at an angle. This means that she can lodge the dumb-bell in her mouth resting against her cheek and in that manner can jump without problems and no rattle. (Once she learned how to do this she transfered it to ALL objects)
The downside is that it takes her slightly longer to pick up the object...but her teeth are still perfect and she get out of that rattle-situation.

(No minus points at competition for carrying at an angle!)
I started one of my previous dogs with wings and she was great with it! In fact so great that she would go after anything dead she would find on our walks and bring it to me for s swap for treats!
As I walk more or less the same ways, I ended up "paying" over and over for the same dead hare or seagull... week after week. Finally there was almost nothing left, but she kept bringing what little piece she found!
Payment in dogsweets EVERY time!
But that dog was a natural retriever....and to my experiance, setters normally are not.
As I dont do field-work any more, I dont bother with birds and wings at an early age.
And it certainly gives you FAR more room in the freezer! :-)

PS As I said, the French Bulldog will take anything and I used to have a pug that just loved the metal-dumb-bell and you think all this retrieving-talent!!!!!!!!!!! = Wasted!
Hallo Ulrike! Danke für den Beitrag - und Alles Gute für die kommenden Tage & Wochen...

This is a great way for all of us to practice our english:-)) even us with english mother tongue have difficulties with the spelling!

I'm pleased to see that others out there are also working hard on the retrieve - I like the idea of everyone having their little indoor training spot: myself in the kitchen, Ulrike in front of the TV, Ursula I know not where - it does show that to teach something new the dog must be in a familiar, quiet enviroment and be got into a 'teaching/learning' mood. I teach anything new indoors and then slowly progress out.

I enjoyed reading your comments, Ulrike, on the various ways your dogs retrieve and I love the photos. I am sure Kathy will also learn - maybe not immediately with your husband, but certainly later with you;-))))

I have found that long distance retrieves over all kinds of ground teach the dog to get a good grip and enjoy doing high speed retrieves. At the moment I am doing only dummy retrieves outside (no game for reasons obvious from above) and am sending the dogs to unseen retrieves at about 100 metres. What is also fun is sending Glen to 'eye-wipe' Erin if she fails, and vice versa. They try harder next time! These beautiful autumn mornings we are having at the moment are great for motivation of dogs and myself.




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