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How to Force Fetch Your Hunting DogProper Force Fetch Technique That Deliver Results:

Also known as force-breaking, force fetch is almost universally seen as one of the most difficult stages a duck hunting enthusiast will face when training a good retriever. It’s not just amateurs that have trouble either. Even experienced hunters that have successfully trained many dogs can find the process frustrating. However, it’s important to understand that “difficult” does not equal “impossible”. Here we’ll take a closer look at one of the more effective ways to force fetch your duck hunting retriever.

The Origins of Modern Force Fetch Technique

All modern force fetch training techniques have their roots in a method pioneered by David Sanborn more than 100 years ago. The Sanborn Method was so effective because it is methodical, as well as gentle, combining praise with just enough pressure to cause the dog to respond. Some techniques are very similar to Sanborn’s original approach, while others seem very different despite having the same origins.
The following method will work well on any duck hunting dog with a retrieving instinct. However, the dog must have all of his permanent teeth and already be obedience trained in order for it to be effective.

The Stages of Force Fetch Training

Force fetch training for duck hunting has two basic stages – a stage that involves working on a training table and another that involves work on the ground.

  • On the Training Table
    Once the dog has been acclimatized to the table, you will begin by teaching him to hold using a training dowel. Attach the dog to the table and give the command “fetch” while physically prying his teeth apart so you can insert the dowel. Then gently hold the dog’s mouth shut (to prevent him spitting the dowel out) while giving the command “hold”. Next teach the dog to drop the dowel at your command of “out” or “drop” using the same technique. Repeat as needed.

At that point, you’ll teach the dog to “fetch”. This will be done using mild pressure via a basic toe hitch. Apply pressure to the toe hitch while giving the “fetch” command. Place the training dowel into the dog’s mouth at the first opportunity and release the pressure on the toe hitch at the same time. The dog will eventually learn to “turn off” the discomfort of the toe hitch by retrieving the dowel.

  • On the Ground
    The next step involves reviewing the hold, drop, and fetch commands that the dog learned on the training table on the ground instead. By now, the dog should have already learned that compliance with the commands averts uncomfortable pressure. Ground training involves the same techniques detailed above, but with a mild pinch to the dog’s ear in place of the toe hitch.

Use the ear pinch to teach your dog to fetch from the hand and then fetch from the ground in the same way you taught him to fetch on the table. Use a variety of objects in addition to the training dowel, including – eventually – real birds. Be sure to praise the dog each time he performs the fetch sequence correctly.

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