View Full Version : HOLD

01-15-2004, 02:38 PM
Hey guys....Well i have been working with my 6m old blk lab male pup on the hold command for the past few weeks. He has gotten down the heel, sit, wait very well. I have been using the 10min Retriever for a guide.
Well back to HOLD, he has been progressing through this slow, this morning he did great, never mouth the soft dummy i have him hold, but this afternoon..he won't hold good, he kept on mouthing the dummy. This is a common occurance with him, its a day by day problem.
I have been giving him a wack under the bottom jaw(like the book states) when he mouths the dummy and repeat hold. Is it just a time thing, more reps, and positive reinforcement and he will come out of this mouthing problem?

01-15-2004, 06:02 PM

Does your pup have all of his adult teeth in all the way? Are the gums bleeding or look swollen?
If either one is happening, then you need to stop. He is not ready as is teeth is still coming in or his mouth is still growing. He will chew on anything that is forced in his mouth because it is irratating him.
6 months is a little early for a male to me. I usually only start females at 6 months, as they mature faster. Males usually start FF'ing around 7-8 months. That is what I have found to be the norm.

Good luck,

01-15-2004, 07:54 PM
Actually he is going to be 7months on the 18th, He went through all of the bleeding gums in November and early december. He has all is adult teeth i had the vet take a look when i brought him in for is rabies shot a while back.

01-15-2004, 09:05 PM
That was good to have your take a look. But I had 2 dogs last year that their gums swelled on them from their mouth growing. I was scratching my head also until I took a close look into their mouth. Their mouths grow until they are over a year. It is just a thought.
If the dog know what and how to hold, have you started to pinch the ear? Have you put different things in his mouth? Different sizes? Try walking away while he is holding and wait until he drops it, scold him, pinch(while commanding hold) and keep the reps. I even try doing FF twice a day.
I still think it has something to do with his mouth. What is he holding? If it is a dowel, stop using it. I never use them. The dog gets bad about rolling them in their mouth. If it is a soft dummy, try a hard dummy. I use everything from a dummy to a steel pipe to a piece of firewood.


01-16-2004, 08:13 PM
i have been using a soft foamrubber type dummy, and a larger canvas dummy. I have been making him hold like you said and walk away from him, walk around him, when he drops it i take the dummy place it back in him immediatly and say hold with a firm voice or if i see him going to drop the dummy i wack him under the bottom jaw and give him a hold command.
Than i break that up with making him heel and putting him on a sit ...than back to hold....i do not use a dowel..my buddie also said not to use one

01-16-2004, 08:24 PM
Do you have a pro near you that you could work with? You need to have some hands on help from some one that REALLY knows what they are doing. Find some one that has had several years of experience and a good track record of training hunt test or field trail dogs.

01-16-2004, 08:56 PM
My "buddie" is a professional trainner in town, i take Jhett out by him when i run into a road block in training... He lets me toss clip wingers, dummies for his field trial dogs and in return he helps me out with jhett and he has really made me appricate the job of training dogs...I just like getting some other thoughts from you guys....i dont really think i am going to FF my dog, i dont really feal comfortable... i was just going to get him to understand the HOLD command good and than turn him over to my buddie for FF.

01-17-2004, 07:24 AM
There are a lot of people that would love to be in your position with a pro trainer just down the road. You made a very wise decision to let him do the force fetching on your dog. It is great you are exchanging in help. I would ask him if it would be ok to watch him work with several different dogs in different stage of force fetch from introducing hold up to force to pile. There are a lot of people that think they know what force fetching is but really donít have any idea what the complete program entails! Good luck and let us know how it works out for you!

01-17-2004, 11:59 AM
Yeah i really got addicted to training dogs , i enjoy watching my buddie work his field trial dogs to seeing thie greenest pup come in and watching the dog start to understand the basic commands..It really make you think about how much work really goes into making a gun dog, im glad i have this to do in the off season!!
Thanks for you help, i'll try to get some pics out and keep everyoine updated.
:cool: :TT: :wak:

01-30-2004, 06:51 AM
no doubt that the professional advice is the best, BUT i was wondering how long you have been working on HOLD. sometimes it takes a while, as you mentioned before. my most recent episode took a few weeks. i had a pro (kenny trott) helping me and it still took two weeks...granted my dog is a chesapeake! good luck.

jake latendresse

01-30-2004, 09:10 AM
I'm confused, was this dog force fetched already? If he has been the hold would be accomplished if he hasn't been...I wouldn't stress so much about it right now as it will be conditioned in the force fetching.

On a side note sometimes applying pressure (positive punishment) by slapping the dog, using elect. stim or other, can have an undesired effect. The dog may associate holding the bumper with impending chin slaps, and depending on his "nerve" or drive, may begin working the stress out through his grip on the bumper.

If HOLD is your primary concern right now than you have to complete a TRAINED retrieve wether by force (negative reinforcment and positive punishment) or by positive reinforcement grip training.

I find that using an obedience dumbbell forces the dog to take a good center grip, and applying positive reinforcement ( I personally LOVE using conditioned reinforcers for this) as soon as the dog grips the object, and before he rolls or regrips it. When the dog has a quick and good grip even though short, I start to make him hold it longer (seconds) and shorten the duration if he rolls or regrips. I continue to increase the duration until the dog is holding the object longer and longer, THEN I teach the hold cue and not before.

It looks like this:

hand dog object (into mouth)....YES THAT"S IT...food
repeat a lot

hand dog object...wait...no rolling, good grip...YES THAT"S IT...food
repeat a LOT

have dog reach for object...grip...wait....YES THAT"S IT....food
repeat a LOT

etc.! Increase distance to reach to ground, add "fetch, back, and/or hold cues", change up the objects, add weight, size, feathers, fur etc etc etc

Note that a force fetching method goes:

Apply pressure (stim, toe hitch, ear pinch or flank)..present object to dogs mouth...instantly stop pressure...Yes that's it

Any mistake in timing, like presenting the object, while or before applying the pressure can creat BIG problems and improper associations (blinking, dodging, poor grip etc.)...not ending the pressure at the exact moment can inadvertantly reinforce whatever the dog is doing the moment the pressure ends...releasing the object, rolling, overgripping etc.

With what you are describing the dog may be associating some things you don't intend to the "hold" command and it may not be in your best interest to link the cue up to the level of response the dog is currently giving you. If you've never read anything on "stimulus control" look it up online. The idea is to link up the desired cue to the desired behavior. The problem with asking a dog (this is JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION GUYS) is that you are linking the finished cue (command - hold) to a very unfinished behavior...then presenting the same cue (hold) as you desire improved behavior...the dog may be responding to the hold cue as he/she understands (the introductory or starting training) but you are asking for an advanced response. Giving cues with unfinished behaviors can slow and hinder progress (again just my opinion and I'm not a field PRO).

So in a nut shell I teach a hold by putting the object in the dogs mouth ( start with an obedience dumbell ), and marking it positively YES (or a clicker) remove the object and reinforce with food, repeat a lot of times until the dog is "catching on". Then increase the time the object is in the dogs mouth to "earn" the reinforcement. Then get the dog reaching for the object, reaching closer to the ground, finally off the ground and out of your hand and then your hand out of the picture.

You basically follow the exact same progress as you would with force fetching, but use positive instead of negative reinforcement.

The criteria continues to increase as the dog progresses, until he is "going out" to pick up the object and returning and performing the delivery you like (at heel or in front)...

I'm sort of rambling and at work...but that is the approach I have found very successful, outside of going through the force fetched method which will establish the desired result just using different quadrants of reinforcement.

blah blah blah thinking out loud...hope it helps even a little.

Have fun

Wayne Dibbley

Woods and Water
01-30-2004, 09:48 AM
Force fetch is something that if your not comfortable doing(first time)then take advantage of your friends expertise,I think your doing the right thing.Good luck!

01-30-2004, 10:24 AM
a lot of professional trainers like to get to WALKING HOLD before they put the dog on the table. i think this might be why he is asking about HOLD...pre-FF.


01-30-2004, 11:39 AM
Never heard that approach taken, what is the advantage or purpose for developing the walking hold first do you know?



01-30-2004, 11:53 AM
It give the dog confidents and if done right a sort of happy feeling or contentment. I will have young dog hold the dummy then release it. It will run around and even air out still holding the dummy. And this is before we start the pressure on force fetch. Like walking hold or heeling hold you just stretch it out!!

Woods and Water
01-30-2004, 12:29 PM
Jake again you have some good info dude.......

01-30-2004, 01:24 PM
yeup...shootem hit the nail on the head. its all about confidence and it also gives the trainer a chance to guage the maturity level of the individual dog and how sensitive he/she is.

you guys shouldve seen kenny trott's assitant reanne trying to teach walking hold to Tanner (my chesapeake). he was so freakin stubborn, it looked like she was trying to break a mustang.:VC: itll drive a man to drink. fortunately, Tanner got through it and is doing well now...that i have half the hair and bit my fingernails down to the nubbs!:Rich:

rusty...sounds like you are definately headed in the right direction...so just be patient, brother. im sure your pro friend tells you that all the time.


02-01-2004, 12:00 PM
guys, jhett has the hold command down and is prroceding to walk at heel with the canvas dummy in his mouth..it seemed that the smaller the dummy the more he mouth it...now i am using a larger canvas dummy or yesterday i used a dokin mallard and he has not mouth those. i can place him at sit and walk around him and walk behind the house where he cant see me and he continues to hold...than i give him the command here or whisle blast and he comes to heel with the dummy...i cant believe how fast he has been catching on...just in the last week....total time it took to get the HOLD down was around 3.5 weeks or so....He has begun his FF....the first day he truned on me and decided to take a bite...but i think he was scared or suprised that i would do that to him(my trainer left for texas, so i am going to attempt FF).
after a 2 weeks he has fetched with pressure to the dummy and just yesterday he fetched on command with out the pressure for the first time.... and now that he see the dummy in my hand he is stepping forward and is attempting to fetch it without me saying anything....i have not yet lowerd the dummy closer to the ground...

02-02-2004, 10:17 PM
hey rusty...looks like things are going well...and you can see the light. now you know why everyone emphasizes patience. its like...just keep paddling hard and eventually youll get through the break (ever see castaway?) i think this is the most important aspect for us amateur trainers to undertsand...if you have a proven program to folllow, stick with it with deligence and persisitence. this means you have to trust the program. when you hit a bump, consult a pro or a group. way to go, man. be careful with FF and take it slow, and like everyone else will tell you...consult a pro often! good luck, partner. good job!


Old Timer
02-03-2004, 03:50 AM
I don't know much about training waterfowl dogs, I train upland bird dogs.
My gsp loves to fetch and everytime I go get him out of his kennel he has to pick up something (leaves, twigs, etc.) to give me.
Sounds like your getting great advise from all these fine people.

The only 2 cents I can add is that if your dog starts to bite down to hard, wrap your retriving aid in barb wire. This developes a soft mouth. This might sound cruel but it works.
It's cheaper then purchasing a spiked harness to put on the bird.