My present Labrador Retriever is high drive and aggressive. Gigi is through FF and well into transition. However, there is one aspect of force fetch that needs more work. When making a retrieve, she instinctively will shake whatever is picked up and sometimes growls in the moment. Therefore, this winter we began doing daily OB sessions with a bumper in her mouth (often). The idea is not unlike learning how to walk and not chew gum at the same time. 

We've begun working towards "remote drop" by practicing OB four out of every five days in the last month (January). The cold weather made this the only choice (I am too old to train out there in cold weather anymore). The sessions have been productive and responsiveness has grown. We have reached the stage in Gigi's OB work where remote drop is next. The first day was confusing (for her). The force fetch process produces a conditioned standard based on hold. Therefore, the remote drop transition must introduce a modification to that conditioned response (hold). It is not a one day process. There is a level of anxiety that must be overcome. Calm, focused finesse is cool. The new skill set will include "It is OK to drop....on command". Progress was made (not a lot, but noticeable the second day). Since her basic OB is almost in maintenance mode and we are well into transition, Gigi was ready. She is an ideal example of a retriever that will benefit by doing so. Eventually (not soon), we will enter into the most challenging phase of remote drop - real ducks/feathers. The duck is always mine.

If she looses her focus and drops, mouths or holds a bumper in any place but in the middle, it is calmly adjusted or re-fetched. The focus is to remind and condition the proper expectations.  When she does the right thing...there is a calm, quiet "good" and maybe a head pat. The OB sessions are geared to be upbeat, focused and fun. The teacher/trainer must be consistent and prepared to manipulate the proper the moment.

If I recognize that things are not going well, the reaction is to slow down and simplify. The most challenging aspect about this is remaining calm and not matching the dog's anxiety or desire for any out of control action(s). There is always tomorrow. We've been working on this about four out of every five days over the last two months. Training has progressed well and we reached a point today where her OB it is almost in maintenance mode (off lead). Soon, we will enter into a higher distraction phase. The word seamless is important.

A new "thing" (skill set) was recently introduced. Gigi, in mid-February, began learning a concept called the "remote drop". The philosophy behind this skill is to make it perfectly clear to a highly prey driven retriever that the bumper/duck is not theirs. No matter where they are, if a whistle sit is requested with an object (eventually a duck) in mouth, she must sit, "drop" it on command and return to a heeling position without the duck. She will not pick it up later. It is mine.

In essence, there are rules for retrieving that must become conditioned responses. If they are not (properly conditioned responses), a dog will become out of balance (generally in times of exciting distractions and/or genetically driven desires).

Several years ago, Lardy had an article in The Retriever Journal. The topic was "remote drop" and its application to high drive issues. It was referred to as a proactive approach.
       definition: proactive approach is any self-initiated action that prepares to handle the future 

If high energy/exciting situations that inhibit progress are recognized, it is best to slow down and modify. The most challenging aspect about these moments is to remain calm and not match the dog's anxiety (or desire) for any out of control action. The worst example is "freezing". Remote drop is a plausible, proactive approach (solution) to avoid an out of balance retriever. The following links are pertinent to the remote drop skill set. The first is from the original WEB. There is an additional link (within the first) related to similar issues.

Heel, here, sit and down are all known and practiced command/actions. We have extended OB routines to include a three minute remote sit or down. This winter we have practiced about 5-6 days per week. Recently, Gigi has begun working on remote sit and down  "with bumper in mouth". The final stage involves being "down" for three minutes remotely (no bumper). It is winter....very cold and snow on the ground. We have an indoor, heated training area.  

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