I've resolved to follow through on things in general, so I'm back to report my progress with getting Orson to return fetching toys to me.

I'm frustrated to report that I've failed with all of the following:

Trading toy for toy. This is mainly because, I've figured out, he sees specific toys for specific occasions. ie., 'donut' (tennis ring) is for water fetching, while 'log' (tennis bumper) is for land fetching. I'm making an effort to mix them up and to continue trying to trade, but he's pretty insistent that when fetching on land, the log rules and the donut holds no appeal.
Playing hard to get/ignoring until toy brought to me. Utter failure. I can stand around for 15 minutes, ignoring him, and he won't bring me the toy. He'll come to me to check up on me ('why aren't we playing anymore?') but he always leaves the toy behind.
Food trade/bribing. He's mighty interested in the food, but he won't bring his toy to get food. I'll show him the hot dog pieces, tell him to get his donut, and he'll comply. But he won't bring it all the way to me. He'll move it a few feet forward, even repeatedly. But never closer than about 5 feet away. He gives up and just comes and offers behavhiors to get the food.

Rewarding him with tug when he brings the toy to me. I've had a few opportunities to practice this, because occasionally I can block his exit from the water and he has to give me the toy. I don't think he enjoys tug I think he sees it as me trying to take the toy. So I tried other rewards, a lot of goofy 'good BOY!' and scratching, but he's definitely just biding his time until he can get his toy away from me. He doesn't trust that I'm not going to snatch it away from him. Did I mention that he's super protective of his fetching toys (when outside) from both humans and dogs?

Next I'm going to try Dianne S's method of short retrieves and 'take' and 'give' for food inside the house. I think Orson and I have trained each other well enough for 3 years so that we're going to have to start over and go s-l-o-w-l-y.
Cate
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I've resolved to follow through on things in general, so I'm back to report my progress with getting Orson to ... come to me to check up on me ('why aren't we playing anymore?') but he always leaves the toy behind.

Why would you ever expect a dog to bring anything TO you willingly, after you've invested so much time and energy in trying to take things AWAY from him?
tell him to get his donut, and he'll comply. But he won't bring it all the way to me. He'll ... just comes and offers behavhiors to get the food. Rewarding him with tug when he brings the toy to me.

If you ever expect to get a reliable, enthusiastic retrieve to hand, STOP playing tug of war with him.
I don't think he enjoys tug I think he sees it as me trying to take the toy.

Absolutely.
And can't you see why that might just have a negative effect on his enthusiasm for RETRIEVING things for you?
Retrieving and tugs go together like apples and razor blades.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
I used Shirley Chong's methods to get my Ibizan hound enthusiastically retreivieng - worked great.
www.shirleychong.org I think!

Melissa S. Frye
Skyrocket cockers www.mfrye.com/skyrocket/

"
I used Shirley Chong's methods to get my Ibizan hound enthusiastically retreivieng - worked great. www.shirleychong.org I think!

http://www.shirleychong.com , actually. Thanks for the suggestion. I assume you're talking about this: http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/retrieve.html

A clicker. Duh. Haven't used one since the early days, but I'll try her method. And maybe getting a dumbbell will help, since he's never seen one before, and since he doesn't associate it with any location or activity.
Cate
I used Shirley Chong's methods to get my Ibizan hound enthusiastically retreivieng - worked great. www.shirleychong.org I think!

http://www.shirleychong.com , actually. Thanks for the suggestion. I assume you're talking about this:http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/retrieve.html A clicker. Duh. Haven't used one ... will help, since he's never seen one before, and since he doesn't associate it with any location or activity. Cate

THat's it - if you actually work through all her steps you do get a great retreive - same reason FF works welll - breaking it down into little steps and building it up very slowly produced a very finished product.

With Kizzi the light really dawmed one day and she stopped spitting toys at me but now has a beautiful hold...
She loves retreiving now too.

Melissa S. Frye
Skyrocket cockers www.mfrye.com/skyrocket/
Retrieving and tugs go together like apples and razor blades.

Not necessarily; it depends on how you teach the dog to play tug in the first place. It also depends on your definition of (or perhaps that should be "expectation of") what retrieving should be.
If what you want is a good play retrieve- dog gets toy, dog brings toy back and lets go of it so you throw it again- tug can actually be a good way to TEACH it.
Tug is how I taught "take it", "drop it", and "give" to my Jack Russell, and she has a beautiful play retrieve (as Cate can attest, having seen it ). Brings the ball back, drops it right at your feet, and will- if asked- drop it into your hand.
She'll also drop anything, including live prey, on command, let me take anything out of her mouth, and has excellent bite inhibition- all taught with tug.
Trading toy for toy. This is mainly because, I've figured out, he sees specific toys for specific occasions. ie., 'donut' (tennis ring) is for water fetching, while 'log' (tennis bumper) is for land fetching.

Erm- so then you need two donuts and two logs, right? I think I may have forgotten to mention that when I used the two-toy method with Bren, it pretty much required that the toys were nearly identical. In his case, that was easy, because we were using tennis balls at the time.
Food trade/bribing.

But never closer than about 5 feet away. He gives up and just comes and offers behavhiors to get the >food.

Does he leave the toy and let you pick it up? If you could get a reliable drop-at-five-feet, it wouldn't be perfect but would at least let you keep throwing the toy. As I understood your original post, the main issue is seeing that he gets enough exercise.
I don't think he enjoys tug I think he sees it as me trying to take the toy.

That's definitely counterproductive.
He doesn't trust that I'm not going to snatch it away from him.

Next I'm going to try Dianne S's method of short retrieves and 'take' and 'give' for food inside the house.

I think that's a good idea at this point. Similar to Nessa's issue with Bagel, it sounds like you need Orson to A. learn in a more controlled situation what "take", "give", and "drop" mean and B. learn to trust giving things to you.

Sarah
Brenin, CGC, AD, O-EAC-V, O-EJC-V, EGC
Gwydion, Handy Cat
Morag Thistledown, Novice and Open Triple Superiors, EAC, O-EJC Robyn Meezer, Inspector of Human Activity
Rocsi Cadarn, S-NJC, O-NAC, O-NGC, O-OAC NGTG, OGTG

we can be seen at: and
Retrieving and tugs go together like apples and razor blades.

Not necessarily; it depends on how you teach the dog to play tug in the first place.

Dog owners/trainers/hunters who are SERIOUS about retrieving should avoid playing tug of war with their dog at all costs and under any circumstances.
It's all risk, and no reward.
It also depends on your definition of (or perhaps that should be "expectation of") what retrieving should be.

Absolutely.
I'm talking about SERIOUS retrieving, where style, a soft mouth, retrieving to hand, enthusiasm, speed, reliability, etc., are of paramount importance.
If what you want is a good play retrieve- dog gets toy, dog brings toy back and lets go of it so you throw it again-

That doesn't sound like a tug of war to me.
tug can actually be a good way to TEACH it.

Not if you're actually going to TUG hard on the object in your dog's mouth, which will only encourage HARD MOUTH if you're making a tug of war game out of this, which is the cardinal sin of competitive retrieving.
It's one thing to have the dog bring you the toy and give it up voluntarily, it's something else when you do something to actually ENCOURAGE a STRUGGLE with the dog over the object he's retrieving.

The handler's outstretched hand should only mean one thing and one thing only to a retriever a depository for the object being retrieved, not the beginning of a game of tug of war.
Tug is how I taught "take it", "drop it", and "give" to my Jack Russell, and she has a beautiful play retrieve (as Cate can attest, having seen it ).

Yeah, well, it ain't working so well on Cate's dog, is it?
Brings the ball back, drops it right at your feet, and will- if asked- drop it into your hand.

Well, if you're satisfied with "play" retrieves, it's probably no big deal. On the other hand, I don't know why any trainer, for any reason, would ever want to do something that can only make his/her job harder, which is why I replied to Cate's comments.
A retriever needs a tug like a fish needs a bicycle.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
Erm- so then you need two donuts and two logs, right? I think I mayhave forgotten to mention that when I used the two-toy method with Bren, it pretty much required that the toys were nearly identical.

What are you, some kind of genius? I definitely am having massive brain farts when it comes to this.
Does he leave the toy and let you pick it up?

Hm, he leaves the toy, but if I make a move toward it, he goes back to get to it first. I can make him 'wait' and 'drop' when I get to him, which is just letting me take it out of his mouth, but he usually won't stand idly by and let me pick up his toy. On occasion he will, and the occasions he will are increasing, so I guess that's a good thing, at least.

If you could get a reliable
drop-at-five-feet, it wouldn't be perfect but would at least let you keep throwing the toy.

Yeah, I've tried transferring the 'drop' that he's learned (which as I said is him letting me take the toy from his mouth) to actually dropping it kerplunk on the ground. But since he's already associating 'drop' with me proactively doing something, I think I'd have to switch words to get him to drop it on the ground.
As I understood your original post, the main issue is
seeing that he gets enough exercise.

Yeah, it totally is. I definitely don't have or need a 'working' retriever, don't need to ensure that he's bringing me what I shoot or anything like that. I just want to be able to play fetch with him without walking all over a field, which is what I do now. I start out by throwing the toy. He gets it and brings it in my direction but not to me, and so I walk and get the toy back, then throw again. There's nothing inherently wrong with this (and I certainly need the exercise myself), but it's annoying. And I don't want to engage in a power struggle, even on a low level, which is what I think his keep-away mentality is.
I think that's a good idea at this point. Similar to Nessa's issue with Bagel, it sounds like you need Orson to A. learn in a more controlled situation what "take", "give", and "drop" mean and B. learn to trustgiving things to you.

Yes.
Cate
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