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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi all! Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I have a quick question. I have a lab that I rescued from the pound. He's about 2 years old, and just sweet and awesome and obedient.

I thought I'd like to start training him to find shed antlers, but here's the thing: I can't get him to retrieve anything! Tennis balls, toys, dummies etc. I'll throw something and he'll lope after it. He even does well at waiting beside me until I say its ok to go after the object. But he never brings it back. Sometimes he'll pick it up, but sometimes he'll just sit there next to the object and look back at me.

Is there anyway to teach him to fetch? Or is it probably too late?
 

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Since he has the desire to chase something, then you have hope.

I have two or three suggestions.

First, cut out the obedience until you have built up a desire to retrieve. I'm talking about in the retrieving context. Don't worry about making him sit while you throw the object, don't make him wait to be released. Get him all crazy about chasing stuff. Once you get him wild to retrieve, you can add in the rest.

Second, just do short throws. Wave the item in front of his face, get him excited, and just do a short throw of a few feet and praise praise praise him he if chases it. Don't worry if he doesn't pick it up, don't worry if he picks it up and runs around...yet. The idea of the short throw is that his momentum over the excitement of the thrown object might result in him going after the object without thinking about it.

Also you might also check out www.retrievertraining.net for advice.

Best of luck with the new guy. It is sad that he does not want to chase a tennis ball! I hope he is just needing to get settled in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks rlpenn. I'll try that. I've got him retrieving a tennis ball if I only throw it about 2 feet. At least its a start and better than he was doing!
 

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The biggest thing you can do to help your cause is PRAISE. Anytime he does something good the way you want it praise him like crazy. Use a high pitch voice and lay it on thick. Dogs are amazing at reading and interpreting expression. They can tell whether your happy or mad by the slightest inflection in your voice. Everything you do with a dog they are looking to you to determine whether they are right or wrong. If you treat them right they will want to continue to make you happy. You can not over due the praise, which is not true for punishment. Remember also, patience makes the dog. It can be a long process. It sounds like he is trainable, so with good effort should come good results. I rescued a lab that was 5 years old. She had the same issue. We were able to work through it with a less strict version of "Force Fetch". You can YouTube "Force Fetch" and see about a million different versions. It is probably the most popular training method for teaching a dog to fetch to hand. Good luck, it is very rewarding to train then hunt over a dog!
 

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Here is link to video by Bill Hillmann trying to get a puppy with low prey drive jazzed up, it is one of several. These might give you ideas about how to bring out your dog's retrieving instincts:

 
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