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Newbie q.

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Nov 14, 2012, 9:47:27 PM11/14/12
Hi all

We own a German Pointer, about 7-8 months old (not sure of age as it
came to us from a farmer who himself had no idea..) Anyway, a
wonderful dog, extremely bright, learns new tricks very rapidly EXCEPT
when it comes to retrieving. In the backyard, he'll retrieve a ball
and bring it back, with or without treats...but take him to the leash
free park and he changes completely. I throw him a stick and he takes
it as his own, not wanting to bring it back. I have tried treats,
ignoring him, using the short lead to show him how to bring the stick
back but nothing - he won't have a bar of it. Same thing happens if I
use a ball.

As this is one way that I can get him to do extra exercise, I am
really keen to see what else I can do to change this behavious so
hopefully someone out there can relate!

Thank you

Jo Wolf

Nov 15, 2012, 12:39:27 AM11/15/12
Part of the issue is AGE. Part of it is environments. Part of it is

Yes, your guy is old enough to master fun retrieving, but whether he's
mature enough to be consistent is highly individual. The nice thing is
that he's constantly getting older and more mature....

For the environmental part of it.... There is less going on to distract
this pup in his own backyard than there is in the park. It can make
that difference between consistent returns in the yard, and inconsistant
returns at the park.

You may be expecting him to retrieve longer distances in the park than
at home.... and those distances may be too long for right now.

Shorten up the distances. In the park start out at 3 feet, then to 6
feet, then to 9 feet, etc. Stay at one distance until he's 100 % before
you increase. Failure to bring the stick or ball to your hand results
in no praise, no treat. (NO scolding or other correction.) Bringing it
in is like a touchdown; huge happy praise, quick treat, immediate throw

Use the treat to help him get close with the ball or stick. If you're
using broken up dog biscuits as treats..... Booooorrrrring! Little
flavor, little scent. Ramp up the scent and flavor of the food
reward.... string cheese, Pup-peroni, left over meat, hot dog bits. The
treat should be about the size of a pea.... largest, the size of a

Use two or more sticks/balls. When he has the item in his mouth, and
is coming toward you show the second one to him. Drop this one at your
feet, aiming to get him to come in all the way carrying the first item.
As you wait longer to throw the second item, he's likely to bring the
first in closer..... until he's consistently bringing it in all the way.

If you have a retractable leash, you can use it to help him remember to
bring it in closer and closer. I do not use this type of leash for
walking the dog, but it is handy to help teach the retrieve anywhere and
to teach the come outside of a fenced area.

And ALWAYS stop before he's quite ready to stop. Leave him wanting
more. This will vary by the day.

Jo Wolf
Martinez, Georgia, USA


Nov 15, 2012, 3:45:12 PM11/15/12
Thanks Jo, sounds good. You make some very good points (eg distance,
maturity) - I actually tried 2 balls at the leash free park (but
didn't have any treats!) and it worked on a few occasions, so, as you
quite rightly say, a combination of age, environment and ME will
hopefully lead to success! Many thanks again!


Nov 15, 2012, 9:57:57 PM11/15/12

mine GSP behaves exactly the same way.It is his way to play with me
and I believe yours doeas the same. He wants to be chased, most pointers
do love chasing (and wrestling) games.
I do allow for this behaviour but will soon have to adjust it so I can
teach him to a formal retrieve for obedience. I may be in trouble with it
as he is already 2 1/2 years old. GSP's are natural retrievers however
they do that for themselves ;-) they were bred to point and flash birds
and hair, to retrieve the game or toy you will have to teach them and if
you only play now in future your formal retrieve will be poor.

Jo-Wolf is giving a nice explanation of what to do in your case.
I add that it is a good practice to restrict your plays to only time when
you want it and with the toys you choose. The only 'toy' that is
available to dog is his chewing bone, all others are put away and used
during training times. If your relationship with your dog is mutual he
will always try to initiate some play/game with you !
Many GSP's are also very excitable and can be very hard to control in
outside environments, they do "must" investigate so they tend to sniff
and scan visually for all new scents(they are extremely good at it)
and for anything that moves, they always ready to hunt it.
I do highly recommend obtaining the book: "Control Unleashed: Creating a
Focused and Confident Dog" by Leslie McDevitt. There is also "Control
Unleashed. The Puppy Program", newer and a bit finer, perhaps will suit
you better. I do have both as well as all her dvd's.
There is also yahoo group discussing all training exercises from the
above book. Please follow this link and it will help you if you join:
Please visit our youtube channel:
I credit Leslie McDevitt for all our achievements.

Good luck in training. enjoy and love your pup !


Nov 18, 2012, 9:40:12 PM11/18/12
> Good luck in training. enjoy and love your pup !- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

THANKS! I do have one other "trait" that you (or others) may be able
to help me with..When he stops, during a walk, should I force hime to
walk where I want him to OR let him follow the scent or whatever else
goes thru his head, eg I am just going to hang around for a while :-)

Jo Wolf

Nov 19, 2012, 12:39:47 AM11/19/12
Um...... Who is the boss here??????????? Who pays for the food, the vet
bills, the cozy bed??????????????????? That's who should be in charge.

You may allow the dog to stop and sniff or piddle.... WHEN YOU WANT IT
TO DO SO. Yes, I'm yelling. Good grief.....

This young twit should walk without pulling on the leash, and you should
not need pull on the leash to keep him near and moving with you.
If there is pullin' goin' on, both of you need a GOOD basic obedience
class. (NOT one at a chain pet store.) Ask the staff at your vet clinic
who teaches a good class. Sign up for the next one. It'll probably
start in either Jan. or March. One hour a week of class for 6 to 10
weeks, depending on what is taught in the basic class, with a few
minutes of practice daily at home. The course should present walking on
a short loose leash (NOT the same as "heel", which is precision work
that comes much later), sit, down, come, stay, wait, and right, left and
about turns, as a bare minimum.... and maybe stand...

Prices will vary, often depending on the rental cost of the location of
classes.... Kennel clubs have volunteer instructors from among their
members; people with experience of training their own dogs for
precision work in competition and more informal stuff for daily life,
have normally apprenticed under more experienced instructors before
assigned a class of their own. Private instructors with credentials from
NADOI, APDT, and one other group with a string of letters, have to know
what they are doing to get those credentials. "Certified" trainers,
with no further explaination usually got certified by PetsMart (yeh....)
or some 6 month shake-and-bake "trainers school".... and are likely
doing work of very uneven quality. Those teaching at chain pet stores
generally lack supervised experience and have no problem solving
preparation..... I've seen them reading to their classes from the
chain's trainers book..... Instructors without organization credentials
may have obedience, agility or field training titles, and can be
excellent..... ASK! Many of them taught first in the club system.

Now... to address the problem. Treats. Heard of those? Nice smelly
PupPeroni, string cheese, hot dog.... held right in front of pup's nose
when the twit thinks it's appropriate to stop or dawdle. Nose follows
food..... Mouth gets food after a few yards. Without you stopping.
Only use the food when he's stopped or lagging, not when he's happily
coming along with you.... not ahead, not behind. With.

And, oh, by the way, you can teach this little twit to stay near your
side and not pulling by frequent offerings of food..... not stopping to
treat..... not every ten yards.... If you Also use a very happy,
high-pitched voice to praise him with each award of goody, soon your
voice will be sufficient reward.... maybe with a nice touch under his
chinnie-chin-chin. Keep the hand with the treat Near your body. NEVER
reach out to give the treat; he has to come and get it or be right in
the right position to get it while moving. If he's not.... too bad....
so sad....

Want a fun game? Teach him to catch a treat that you've tossed
underhand. Or teach him to catch one you've spit out at him (at your
side or facing you very close....). Those big yellow cheese puff balls
or unsalted popcorn are easily seen and a bit slower (float in the air
more slowly) than the usual treats, for the learning phase. No rush to
teach this.... take your time. It's a trick at first. Comes in handy
during later training. His eye-mouth coordination has to develop with
practice..... You weren't a major league catcher your first year in
Little League, either.


Nov 19, 2012, 2:49:03 PM11/19/12
GSP's do a lot of sniffing and at times it is nerve wrecking,
yet please remember they were bred for it and also is theirs
natural instinct. You will decide what you want to allow and when
however if you work with insticts you'll be better off then working
against it. You need to do careful planning and use a lot of management
to prevent behaviours you do not like or not proper(disturbing) at a
given time.

You will find a lot of web-help here:

and here what Your First Behaviors might be.


Good Luck


Nov 20, 2012, 3:45:50 PM11/20/12
Well, I have to hand it to you, so far it seems to be working, I have
started in the backyard and then on a short walk, and the treats
certainly keep him in line! Thanks!

Jo Wolf

Nov 20, 2012, 5:29:16 PM11/20/12
Been teaching basic obedience classes since 1985..... first 5 years as
an assistant, then as the senior instructor, and since '93 as a team
member of a team of 2 and 3 instructors with about 100 -160 new students
per year, and the new sport of Rally since about early 2000s. So have
lots of practice and a big tool box of methods. I may not teach
advanced levels of obedience, but I've trained my own dogs at those
levels, and assist and observe.... so know "how" for some things I
rarely work with directly, just not as many methods. Having started
training my own dogs, terriers, before the days of using food or
clickers or targets, I certainly appreciate what some trainers call
"hot dog power".


Jul 7, 2020, 6:34:47 AM7/7/20
I know this thread is old, but training your dog is the only long-term solution, OP.

I love my dog so much but it constantly did the things that irked me most. It would chew on things that it shouldn’t or jump up and down out of the blue.

Whenever I put on the leash, it would pull on it. Whenever it was out of the house, it would continue digging on the ground - I wish I could tell what it was looking for down there. The same goes for all the nasty urine.

All the things it did left me feeling depressed as if I failed it monumentally.

But since I discovered Brain Training for Dogs and applied the system offered, it now behaves the way a beautiful dog I always expect of 🐶

Here's a link to their site: http://hiddendogintelligence.club/

Good luck!
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