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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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After reading all these comments, I´m trying to compose one by my self.

I made the same experience like the most of you. My old dog Anu ( old is a little exaggeration,
`caus she`s twenty month old) retrieves erverything without dead birds. She`s running very fast behind them, but she never picks it up. I think we have to train it more intensiv. But by the way I understand her, picking up dead birds with the mouth isn`t very nice I suppose.
The little one Nikita runs also fast after anything we lay down or throw, but she takes it and goes away. She wants to have fun by herselfe. She`s eight month I think with a little training she will do it like Anu.
Next year we want to manage the training more intensive.
Yvonne, this is normally a very easy problem to solve. As soon as Nikita has got hold of whatever you have thrown, you should turn and run in the opposite direction! You should have someone keeping an eye on her so that she does not drop whatever it is. You should continue running until she has caught up with you and then sit down with your back to her...so that she makes contact with you (not you with her). Swap whatever she has got with another (fun) object or food. NO EYE-CONTACT from you!
This works if done properly!
Perhaps we should start a retrieving class somewhere in the middle of Europe...:-)))
Ursula, thank you for the advice, I will try it next time training. I think it`s a good idea to start a retrieving class :-)). I`m sure there are many dogownwers who have the same problems like we have, but I´m also learning by reading the comments on this side.
Retrieving is a massive problem for lots of dogs. Unfortunatly the main problems are the ones created by their owners....:-)))

(Nothing personal Yvonne...just information gained by looking around!)
Hello Ursula, I tried youre advice yesterday and it work very well.
It was the first time, that Nikita brought the ball back to me.
Thank you
Well that is great Yvonne! Now we dont have to have those retrieving-courses every week in central Europe! :-)

But it is a little bit difficult to explain via mail...much better when you SEE the problem! Also with the exercise you did it is so easy to fall in to the trap of making eye-contact with the dog!
This is totally forbidden for you for some time to come!
Just repeat what you have been doing!
Sure, I'd say Switzerland is nicely in the middle of Europe:-)) Will you be flying in on a weekly basis Ursula? I'd volunteer to make the arrangements and organize the training grounds...

Laura, my mother had the same problem with me as a teenager... she kept unwrapping bags from the freezer, wondering what it was and finding dead birds;-))

I don't think retrieving need be a problem. I find it important not to mistake 'throw & fetch' with a trained retrieve (different for the Retreiver breeds I'm sure). As I mentioned before, I like to keep the 'play' element quite separate from the 'work' for a long time. I start with the end of the retrieving chain: the dog presenting me with the object. Only once the dog has learned to master the final steps of sitting in front of me and holding something in his mouth do I proceed to retrieves over a few metres, gradually increasing. For example I will ask for a retrieve from the kitchen to the dog room, when it is feeding time. They quickly learn to work for their dinner...

Of course I'll throw a ball or a toy for the dog, but I will NEVER put the command 'retrieve' to these games.

Glen took off with his rabbit dummy to start with. He soon realized that I would not chase after him but would give him a really tasty treat if he came back to me WITH the dummy. If not, no treat. As before, these retrieves were only done inside the house until he got the hang of it.

Another thing I suggest: tell a puppy what a good dog he is when he carries something in his mouth. Don't grab it and take it away from him. Just talk to and admire the puppy:-))
The swapping works great for puppies...they get a treat for anything they bring to you at any time!
I had one that was great at it and so I ended up with my workdesk piled high with shoes, old bones and twigs from the garden...:-)
Most retrieving-problems are coursed by us not acting correctly. On the other hand some dogs are very difficult...whatever you do with them when they are puppies.

I had this idea of making up three Ob. Champions in a line. Number one had no problem with retrieving and this was clear from the start.
Number two was great...also clear from the start. (She was the one that brought me all those shoes while I was working)
Number three was fantastic...perfect metal-retrieving over jump at a about six months old.
Well, then number three had an anal gland operation go wrong at the age of three (she was by this time in champion-class) and had to be put down.
I re-mated number two who was getting on in age so this was a last-chance to reach the goal of three Ob Champions in a direct line.
A litter was born, five puppies and just one bitch.
She looked like a little spider compared to her normal-sized brothers but she survived. (She had to fight for it!)
I could tell from the word go that this one was totally differant. I think she had a very rough time with her brothers tormenting her!!!!
And she just refused to take anything in her mouth.
Took me one and a half years just to get her to take the dumb-bell in her mouth. Never mind walking with it...that became the next problem...finally it worked.
Obediance champion at the age of five and having had three litters during those years as well.
But it was hard work every step of the way.
So some ARE very differant even though they come from a line of retrievers...

This is stage two: after the kitchen training we proceed to the lane outside our house - loads of distractions there... crows, pigeons, cats...
For our obedience trials the dog must present the dumbell sitting close in front and looking up!
Interesting Susan!
I thought the the FCI rules were the same all over!
We used to be allowed this type of dumb-bell presentation if we told the judge beforehand. (In fact this may still be the case.)
But nobody ever uses this type.
Only time I have seen this presentation is at Crufts.
We have to have the dog come in (either going around us or directly in to our left side with a tight turn) and ending up sitting at our left side with the retrieving object held either high or level.
Also that dumb-bell you are using...what type is that?
We only have wood or metal. The type you use looks like a type I have seen that is metal covered in plastic. Is that correct?
But then what is the middle-part?
Looks sort of differant...
Ursula, I see you have the eyes of a hawk... this is hard plastic, it will even swim (but Glen not). The middle is wrapped with string to make it more pleasant to grip. I use all kinds of objects, but this one shows up well on the photo...

I am obviously causing confusion, talking of obedience. In Switzerland we have many different classes the dogs can work in: these are purely national trials with separate classes covering 'Begleithund 1-3' which would be a type of Family Dog, then 'Sanitätshund 1-3' covering search & rescue, then the 'Schutzhund 1-3' with police dog work. All these trials have a section with nosework and one with obedience. Then there are also tracking dog trials.
In addition there are the international FCI trials: Obedience and IPO.

Back to retrieving: a front presentation is required for all the national tests, so to avoid confusing a dog that works in both national and international trials, a front presentation is also allowed for Obedience.

In the national tests every handler uses his own retrieve item. Only in IPO and Obedience the dogs must retrieve a wood or metall item supplied.

Do you have a similar system?
Susan...dont need eyes of a hawk to see a glaring orange object! :-)

I can see what we (I) compete in is international FCI-obedience. We have none of the (easy) own objects to retrieve. This in itself is a huge problem...there may be 15 dogs competing in one class and they all have to retrieve the same object...and if you have a slightly picky retriever (like setters tend to be) its not too nice to end up as number 15. The dumb-bell out of wood is normally pretty bloody awful! All slimy and reaking of 14 other dogs! And no matter how much you try to clean it, its never especially good.
Particually if you have the misfortune of competing against dogs that both chew and slobber!
Takes a lot of training to get dogs to accept something that tons of other dogs have had in their mouth just minutes before.
The metal one is easier from the cleaning aspect...but I have competed a lot in snow or below-freezing temperature and there you have the problem of ICE-COLD metal objects.

We also have an obedience-part with for instance tracking and army-dogs competitions, but to be quite honest, the level is seldom anywhere near the FCI-obedience (I will learn to spell that eventually!).

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