Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fetch, part 2

We've been practicing Fetch with Haddie as mentioned in my last post. We have two hallways in our house, both about the same in distance. One is downstairs on hardwood, and the other is upstairs on carpet.
My son started training first this week on the hardwood. However, it got shut down rather quickly due to noise. The plastic bottles were bouncing down the hall, Haddie was sliding and thumping against the doors, all the while my husband was trying to wrap up his work day at the end of the hall in his den. It proved to be a very noisy training session.

So we moved it to upstairs where there is carpet - the only ruckus noise is caused by a human's bad throw when an item bounces off the wall or stair railing. Otherwise, it is much more noise tolerable.
Haddie gets in her workout. It is like wind sprints really - as soon as she comes back to Drop the item, she is off running after it again. She is panting and tired by the time I decide we are through.
It did take a fair number of turns before Haddie was willing to come back with out a pop-of-the-leash reminder. Now she is fairly consistent on coming all the way back to me and not turning her head away from me when it is time to give up the goods.
I began to wonder if she would correlate the Fetch game to real life. For example, if she found a Pumpkin Scooper on the floor, what would she do? If she found many items on the floor, what would she do? I was so curious in fact that I eventually threw a handful of items all at once.
In typical Lab style, she tried to pick up multiple items at one time. When she figured out it was not working correctly, she dropped a few and came back with one in her mouth. I told her to Fetch, and she turned around and grabbed another and returned. We continued the routine until the floor was cleaned up.
It was kinda fun.
Accidently, we were able to apply the Fetch game to real life scenarios yesterday. So far she is 1 for 1 when tested off leash. I had dropped an empty toilet paper roll in our bedroom; which was headed for her Fetch Box. She grabbed it and I encouraged her to come to me, but it wasn't happening.
However, hours after that she found a large plastic clip (like what you use to clip chip bags closed) on the floor .... and ... she brought it to me right away. YEA!!!
I think the Fetch training is our new favorite thing. It keeps her mind active, and it is so fun to see her brain processing behind those adorable eyes.
Side note - her baby molars are popping out left and right. Gross if you ask me because sometimes I can hear her chewing the tooth - not because it is floating around in there, rather it is because it is so crooked loose that it is hanging out and sideways and eeewww - so gross. And then her mouth gets really bloody. SO - any advice during this yucky part of teething would be appreciated. She's a really messy teether, so she's spent those parts of the day in her kennel. 


  1. Inspired by this post we've been working on Fetch with Orent. He's good about getting within arms reach but still turns away if we reach for the ball/toy. Maybe unlike Haddie, he's SUPER kibble-motivated, so much so that if we reward with treats for fetching, he won't run after the toys. He just sits and downs and rolls in succession hoping we'll give him more kibble!
    I'm wondering how Haddie gives you the object. Do you take it from her mouth? Does she drop it on the floor? In your hand? How are you working on that? And, are you using treats? Does she ever ignore the toy and focus only on the treats?

  2. Max - Haddie knows Drop and so as long as she comes to me, she will release the item into my hand when I give her the command of Drop. However, the Fetch game came about because she would not come to me when she had something in her mouth. I taught Drop much earlier by having her exchange the toy/item for a treat. According to my trainer - IF Haddie would not release the item, I was to grab the item from her mouth - your hands should only be on the item, not the dog. Praise WHILE the item is still in the mouth. So to start training Drop, I would command Drop, grab, yes, then treat. My trainer said she always has the dog Drop in her hands, only because she does not want to bend down any further. =) She said, however, that a Drop at your feet is acceptable. I just so happened to train Haddie to Drop in my hand - by pure accident. =) No dogs in class were rewarded with a treat during the Fetch game. Instead we use the "Let's have a party" reward system. Lots of praise and whoop it up ... and then throw the item requesting Fetch (never Get) and start all over. Because we don't treat during the Fetch game, I am not sure if she would ignore the item and go for the treat. She probably would. =) I hope this answers your questions. Let me know how it goes!!