The Higgins Method – http://www.higginsgundogs.com
Ekahi Learns the Retrieve
Brad’s method breaks the retrieve into 2 parts. First the release to go get the bird then a here command to return with the bird. It is done this way because a predators brain can only focus on one thing at a time. They must complete the first thing before they can focus on the 2nd thing, they can learn to do 2 things or more at the same time but it is not natural.
In this video you will see that I start with Ekahi on the cord so I can show her what i am asking. I will toss the dead bird so she can retrieve it , then without saying anything, I will wait patiently until she puts the bird in her mouth and lifts her head up. Right at that moment, when she has completed the first thing, I am able to ask for the second thing which is the here command. She comes right in with the bird. At the end, you will see that I don’t hold the cord. Since we associated squating down with the here command, I don’t have to say anything. I just squat down and Ekahi demonstrates that she understands what i am asking. She does a beautiful retrieve to hand with no pressure. In the beginning the dog might drop the bird when you say here and then come in, remember at this point she is still learning about doing 2 things at the same time ( go get the bird and bring it to me). When this happens, I don’t get upset because the dog did what I asked, it came to me when I said here. I was not telling her to carry the bird. So what I’ll do, is say in a happy voice “where’s your bird go get it”, and send the dog back out, just a few times of that and she starts to understand that I want her not only to get it, but bring it to me also. From then on, you will have a retrieving monster. Patients will pay high dividends.
Have a great day everyone
Curious if you do anything in particular to prevent or cure hard mouth. Sometimes my Annie is pretty aggressive with her bite… But not always.
Chewing on birds or being hard-mouthed is caused by the pressure you are putting on her to retrieve. People bring me hard mouthed dogs to fix all the time. One of the first things I do is remove all pressure to retrieve. After I say “fetch”, I walk away in the opposite direction. After just a couple of birds, she will go get her bird and return to join me in my walk. I NEVER say anything or ask for the bird. It’s up to her to decide to offer it to me. After all, she sees it as HER bird, not mine. My goal is not to make her retrieve MY bird, but to encourage her to share HER bird with me. This is the difference between an obedience based method and mine, which is based on free will, trust and cooperation.
Once I have changed the strategy from obedience to free will and cooperation, she will choose to retrieve her bird to hand beautifully.