About a two weeks ago I began force training Ridge. If you are unaware of what force training is you should read up on it. A good book is the Tri-tronics book of Retriever Training or the articles by Mike Lardy. You can find information online. In a nutshell, force training is the use of negative reinforcement to increase a dog’s desire to retrieve, even in unpleasant circumstances. Negative reinforcement should not be confused with punishment.

When punishment is used the dog receives correction of some kind AFTER he has done something the handler does not desire. This is in an attempt to extinguish that particular behavior.

When using negative reinforcement the correction is given BEFORE the behavior is induced and then stopped at the time the behavior begins. This creates a Pavolovian response and an increased desire to continue the behavior. (you can call me if you don’t understand these terms)

On the first day of force training, we began by introducing the hand into his mouth and getting him to accept it without resistance. Most dogs rebel when the hand is introduced but Ridge very calmly held and accepted my gloved hand.

In the past week he has progressed more rapidly than any dog I have had. Currently he is reaching out to get the dummy and is holding it very well. We have had some difficulty in getting him to transition to a larger bumper as well as other odd shapes such as a hammer, cleaning brush, and a force fetching buck with wire wrapped around it. When we began to experience some hesitation we went back to immobilizing his head and starting back at the beginning.