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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me preface this by saying that this is the coolest thing I have ever tried with my dog from a learning point of view. LOL. I'll admit, I've always been a 'luring' person, but I know that won't work for this type of behavior so I've tried shaping, finally.

I'm trying to teach her to take something in her mouth and hold it until I say otherwise. I started by c/t for looking at the item, sniffing it, pawing it and opening her mouth on it. Now I'm c/t her for putting it in her mouth and holding her head off the floor (slightly carrying it).

But now what? We got through the first few steps so quickly but I don't know how to make her understand that I want her to pick it up. I'd eventually like to use it to teach her to retrieve items to me, or at least hold things in her mouth for cute pictures. :D

(She *kinda* fetches right now when she's in the mood and playing with something really fun, but nothing formal and it's impossible to c/t her when playing because she loses interest in the toy as soon as she sees the clicker and treats.)

Any ideas?
 

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We got through the first few steps so quickly but I don't know how to make her understand that I want her to pick it up.
If she really understands that taking the item in her mouth from your hand is the behavior, then I'd hold the item with my hand on the floor. Then put the item right by my hand on the floor. You might have to wait for a while as she figures it out. Sometimes I have to figure out how to break it down further to get the idea across.

I just did this with Jaia and I used a candy bar wrapper because it's so light. Once he "got" taking it from my hand, I just put it on the floor and waited. He figured out he had to do something to it, so started pawing it, licking it and as soon as he started to pick it up, I c/t. As the dog gets used to this type of training, they get more creative and willing to offer various behaviors to interact with the items.

Does that help?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I actually have been doing the reverse of what you're saying. She is taking the item off of the floor, not from my hand. I tried both ways, but she does better when it's just on the floor and she puts her mouth on it. She seemed confused when I held it in my hand.

I tried to wait longer before c/t'ing for holding it in her mouth off the floor, but she literally picks it up, picks up her head and tosses it immediately back down. If I wait too long for her to offer the behavior I want, she'll get frustrated.

Using something very light might be a good idea, though. Right now I'm using a stuffed toy, which isn't heavy, but I get what you're saying about something like a wrapper 'staying' in their mouth a bit better.
 

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Oh, Sorry, I misunderstood. :) I'm still not sure - Is it the holding that you're asking about?

I would get her to take it from your hand, then. That way she already has her head up. But you're right. Getting her to hold it is a bit more tricky. I just spread it out over several sessions (I'm doing this now) and once she has it in her mouth, wait just the tiniest bit before clicking. Just an instant. The next time, wait another instant. She will get to the point where she waits for the click before she put it down (hopefully). I'm counting on that, anyway. :)

I "cheat" sometimes, too. I might get her to pick it up and then say, "wait" (real quick) then click. Then you can draw out the "wait", a little at a time to get her to hold it. Then change the cue to "hold".

I'm still learning, too, but I do it every day and we're all really enjoying it. I'm always figuring out ways to get them to know what I want.

Hopefully, someone else will have some good ideas because I'm working on this with Jaia now and I would love some pointers, too.
 

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I have a really, really good step by step article on this very topic that we used when teaching Libby to retrieve. It is fantastic, but it is scanned as I only have a print version. I could email it to you if you like...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Definitely interested, Squeeker, thanks a lot. Should I PM you my e-mail address?

Oh, Sorry, I misunderstood. :) I'm still not sure - Is it the holding that you're asking about?

I would get her to take it from your hand, then. That way she already has her head up. But you're right. Getting her to hold it is a bit more tricky. I just spread it out over several sessions (I'm doing this now) and once she has it in her mouth, wait just the tiniest bit before clicking. Just an instant. The next time, wait another instant. She will get to the point where she waits for the click before she put it down (hopefully). I'm counting on that, anyway. :)

I "cheat" sometimes, too. I might get her to pick it up and then say, "wait" (real quick) then click. Then you can draw out the "wait", a little at a time to get her to hold it. Then change the cue to "hold".

I'm still learning, too, but I do it every day and we're all really enjoying it. I'm always figuring out ways to get them to know what I want.

Hopefully, someone else will have some good ideas because I'm working on this with Jaia now and I would love some pointers, too.
Yeah, maybe I expected too much too soon, as I only just started this tonight. I tried to sneak in a wait but she had already spit the toy out. We'll see.. thanks FIC!
 

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Definitely interested, Squeeker, thanks a lot. Should I PM you my e-mail address?
Yup, please do!
 

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Squeeker, I would love to have that article, too, if you don't mind. I have PMed my email addy to you. Thank you!
 

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Yeah, maybe I expected too much too soon, as I only just started this tonight. I tried to sneak in a wait but she had already spit the toy out. We'll see.. thanks FIC!
Yeah, it can take some time. I went with the more traditional method of teaching "conditioned hold". My dog is highly motivated to retrieve and carry objects, but he initially rejected the concept of taking items from my hand--but only if I wanted him to. If I was holding something and not paying attention, he'd snatch-n-run. He'd swipe things out of my pockets (gloves, ball point pens, or whatever). If I tried to get him to take something from my hand--even a dog biscuit--he'd clam up and turn his head aside.

A dog who's not hard wired for that kind of work may present a different set of challenges. Either way, it doesn't always happen in one or two sessions.
 

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Squeeker, I would love to have that article, too, if you don't mind. I have PMed my email addy to you. Thank you!
No problem!

A dog who's not hard wired for that kind of work may present a different set of challenges. Either way, it doesn't always happen in one or two sessions.
Very, very true. This did not come natually for Libby, unfortunately, but we did NOT want to use the traditional "force break" for her hunting retrieves. The "fetch" command, as eventually accomplished by following the article I mentioned, was probably the single most time-consuming thing we have ever taught her... but we did it :D and now she LOVES it!
 

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Very, very true. This did not come natually for Libby, unfortunately, but we did NOT want to use the traditional "force break" for her hunting retrieves.
So-called "conditioned hold" is typically a precursor to "force breaking". A pretty darned good response can be achieved with just the former.
 
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