[nagdu] Training the Retrieve/find, I did it!

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Thu Aug 13 17:24:57 UTC 2015

Hi Raven,

Thank you for this.  Your explanation is clear.  My dog enjoys picking
things up in his mouth as well, especially soft things like laundry...
I have wanted to channel that behavior into something positive, and
I've always wanted to teach him to find things.  I hope these steps
work for us as well as they worked for you.

On 8/13/15, Steven Johnson via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Raven, that is awesome, and thank you for the tips!
> Steve & Benny
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Raven Tolliver
> via nagdu
> Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:32 PM
> To: nagdu
> Cc: Raven Tolliver
> Subject: [nagdu] Training the Retrieve/find, I did it!
> Off and on, someone asks how to teach their dog how to find certain objects
> or retrieve dropped objects. Fortunately, I've attempted and been
> successful
> at this with my dog.
> Before I get into details, I taught my dog how to locate dropped objects. I
> do not want him retrieving things, so I did not focus on that behavior,
> though if you need your dog to do that, I explain a bit about how to do so
> below.
> Below are 3 days of journal entries detailing how I trained the Golden Guy
> to locate dropped objects in the house.
> Day 1.
> My mother gifted me a decorated silk or satin purse from Japan, a souvenir
> from her recent trip. this is a small purse with no straps or handle. It is
> about 5 by 3.5 inches.
> The Golden Guy fixated on soft things, as most goldens are, was naturally
> attracted to this purse. He's never retrieved socks, shoes, slippers,
> clothes, or anything outside of toys and stuffed animals.
> He's displayed attraction toward small pillows, but nothing else really.
> While I was holding this purse, he started sniffing it and put his mouth on
> it. It was extra soft because it has a wool insert in it to keep its shape.
> Instantly, an idea popped into my head. I took the purse from his mouth and
> dropped it. Just as I thought, the Golden Guy picked it up.
> I could use this purse to train a retrieve! I really could.
> I put several objects in the purse to make it weighted. My mom had also
> given me some yin and a heavy metal key ring, and I added them to the purse
> to get the Golden Guy used to grabbing something with weight.
> So the training began. I started tossing the purse a short distance from
> me.
> And the Golden Guy went after it, putting his mouth on it.
> Not the best treatment for a gift from Mom, but hey, it's productive.
> I did this several times. And each time, I said "yes!" when he dove after
> the purse and grabbed it in his mouth; I praised him up for holding his
> position rather than leaving the purse; and I asked him to "drop it" in my
> hand. The Golden Guy was very excited by this, because at this point, he
> still thought the purse was a toy. He brought the purse back to me, likely
> to play tug, but I asked him to "drop it"
> each time before tossing it again.
> After several repetitions, I gave the command "Get it!" in an excited voice
> each time I tossed the purse. This put a command to what he was already
> naturally inclined to do. Several repetitions of using the command with
> this
> behavior, and I ended the training session with lots of hugs and praise.
> This training session was ideal for both of us. It only lasted 10-15
> minutes. I took steps toward teaching a behavior by capitalizing on my
> dog's
> natural inclination to play with and carry soft objects, and the behavior
> is
> self-rewarding because by going after the object, my dog thinks this is
> playtime rather than a set-up training session, which stresses some dogs
> out. The Golden Guy gets a bit stressed by set-up training sessions because
> he's one of those dogs who needs to know upfront what you expect, rather
> than taking steps to show him, which obviously isn't always possible.
> Day 2.
> Tonight, we worked for another 10-15 minutes. I took a step back in the
> process first. This way, I started the session with something I knew he was
> familiar with and successful at. This allows the dog to have expectations
> and understanding of what is being asked of him, and it allows you to
> successfully add steps and build on the behavior.
> I tossed the purse a short distance from me, giving the command "Get it!"
> Just as he did last night, he went after the purse. However, he made some
> connections in his brain last night because rather than grabbing the purse
> in his mouth, he simply dove for it and put his paws on it. Very nice. I
> would rather him do this than retrieve it in his mouth. It was clear that
> he
> understood this was a training session rather than a pure play session.
> After several repetitions of this, I told him to heel off-leash. As he
> walked beside me, I tossed the purse a short distance from us. "Get it!" I
> commanded. He went after it and put his paws on the purse. Yes!
> Several repetitions of this.
> Next, I took the heavy key ring out of the purse. Hiding the purse in my
> shirt, I stood still and tossed the key ring a short distance. I cued him
> "Get it!" And yes, he dove after it, just as he did with the purse. I
> repeated this several times, before I added the walking in again. So again,
> I had him heel, off-leash, and tossed the key ring several times. Each
> time,
> he went for it. Great!
> After this, the Golden Guy actually wanted to play and abandoned the purse
> for one of his stuffed animals for a good game of tug and fetch.
> Even though he likes the purse a lot, it's good that he understands it is
> not a toy. But I think the purse got him excited for a real play session.
> I decided to end the training session when he grabbed his toy. That was the
> Golden Guy's signal that he was done with the set-up training session, and
> he wanted to play. He likes to play for 15 minutes after he works to
> unwind.
> If I wanted him to find and retrieve the objects, I would have done things
> differently the previous day. I would have concentrated more on him holding
> the object in his mouth, praising him for carrying it back to me, and
> eventually matching a command like "bring it" to that behavior. But I don't
> want the Golden Guy to pick things up, I just want him to find them.
> The golden Guy might go back to grabbing the purse in his mouth, which is
> fine. As long as he doesn't try to play with it or chew on it, I am okay
> with him grabbing softer objects. I don't expect him to grab hard objects
> like keys, coins, or my credit card.
> If you want your dog to retrieve the objects, I suggest training for 3
> behaviors, "Get it," where they locate and grab the object, "bring it,"
> where they carry the object in their mouth back to you, and "drop it" where
> your dog returns the object to your lap or outstretched hand.
> If your dog does not naturally grab the object in their mouth, do not force
> them to. Praise them for locating the object for you. If you're trying
> something metal, dogs are less likely to pick it up, so make an attempt
> with
> something soft like a wallet or fabric coin purse.
> If your dog automatically grabs the object, this is the dog you can easily
> train to retrieve, as they are naturally inclined to perform that behavior.
> Day 3.
> Again, I started with tossing the purse several times, giving the cue "get
> it." He found it successfully for me each time, putting his paws on it,
> hovering his head over it, or laying down with the purse between his paws.
> He did pick it up in his mouth a couple times.
> Next, I repeated the same thing with the key ring. He indicated this object
> in the same ways as the purse, though he never tried to pick the key ring
> up.
> I walked with him heeling by my side off-leash, and dropped the key ring
> while walking. When I cued "get it," he indicated the key ring.
> I then tried this with my credit card. We were golden. He indicated the
> credit card each time I dropped it by stepping on it or hovering his head
> over it.
> As a nice bonus, I actually did drop my credit card as he and I were
> playing
> after the training session. I didn't know where it fell, so I said "get
> it."
> He looked around for a moment, then moved forward a bit and indicated the
> credit card by stepping on it. I praised him up.
> So far, I've only worked on this in the basement apartment and upstairs
> living room, so I will continue training this behavior in different parts
> of
> the house. I'm sure he'll be successful.
> I don't plan to work on this in public, as this behavior is more useful at
> home for me personally.
> If you want to use it in public though, I suggest starting from the basics
> again. This immediately rings a bell in the dog's mind, and communicates to
> them what is expected of them. It enables them to generalize performing the
> behavior in a variety of locations. Start somewhere with little to no
> distractions, and work your way up from there.
> If you choose to use treats as a reward, that's fine, too. I simply used
> physical and verbal praise each time he found the objects, and this was
> reinforcement enough for him to continue with the behavior.
> He is a praise-motivated dog, so this worked for us perfectly.
> I hope this made sense and helped someone. Even if you don't need this
> behavior, it's still great to teach our dogs new things. If I was too vague
> somewhere, let me know.
> --
> Raven
> Founder of 1AM Editing & Research
> www.1am-editing.com
> You are valuable because of your potential, not because of what you have or
> what you do.
> Naturally-reared guide dogs
> https://groups.google.com/d/forum/nrguidedogs
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Julie McGinnity
National Federation of the Blind of Missouri second vice president,
National Federation of the Blind performing arts division secretary,
Missouri Association of Guide dog Users President
graduate, Guiding Eyes for the Blind 2008, 2014
"For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7

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