User:Lindsay Ridgeway/The 2Q Retriever/Fetch
Verbal Fetch 
Discovery Returning with the article is obviously of paramount importance in a field retrieve, but unfortunately, the return and delivery are not intrinsically reinforcing for some retrievers, and probably no retriever finds them as reinforcing as the chase to the article that occurs at the beginning of the retrieve.
That creates the sequence of valuable stimulus A, the sensation of chasing, preceding less valuable stimulus B, the sensation of returning with and delivering (giving up!) the article. High value A followed by lower value B is not the ideal sequence for an intrinsically reinforcing behavior chain. In fact, depending on the dog's nature, it can cause a decline in the value of A to the dog.
Yet a retriever can discover great value in the Fetch, that is, the return and delivery of the article, if a concerted effort is made to show the dog that the next thing that will often happen is another opportunity to retrieve, which of course begins with the opportunity to chase, perhaps the dog's favorite of all rewards. Bearing this in mind, many trainers often set up sequences of multiple retrieves so that the dog, especially in her formative period, learns that when one retrieve is completed, another is likely to follow.
Initially, the sequences are "singles". That is, the dog is sent immediately after each article is thrown.
Later, multiples like "doubles" and "triples" are also introduced, where two or more throws are made before the dog is released to retrieve all of them, usually beginning with the last one thrown (the "go-bird"). When the dog is ready for multiples, the anticipation of retrieving the "memory-birds", and perhaps also the mental challenge of remembering where all the articles have fallen, sometimes seems to be an even greater motivating factor than a sequence of singles in completing the earlier returns.
Risk Great care must be taken in training the Fetch, and that is all the more true with 2Q dogs. The reason for this is that the open field provides countless opportunity for undesired, but highly self-reinforcing, behaviors that are incompatible with a correctly performed retrieve. Examples of such behaviors are chewing or even eating the bird, stalling at obstacles such as high cover or standing water, parading with the article by making a tour of the throwers, spectators, or other handlers, and other resource-guarding behaviors such as head-throwing or playing keep-away. A single incident of such behaviors is not enough to form a habit, but with each additional incident, the dog develops a reinforcement history for the undesired behavior that may compete powerfully against any reinforcement history you will be able to create for the desired response of racing straight back to the start line, swinging to heel, sitting, and giving up the bird.
Therefore . . .
Checklist Proof the Verbal Fetch with with a variety of articles including dummies; oddly shaped and weighted articles such as sets of keys, hammers, and boots; dead birds; and clip-wings:
- ☐ Living room
- ☐ Living room with distractions
- ☐ Yard
- ☐ Yard with distractions
- ☐ Open area
- ☐ Open area with distractions
- ☐ Field area
- ☐ Field area with guns and birds
- ☐ Group training day
- ☐ Event