FORCE FETCH, A HUNTER'S PERSPECTIVE
Updated: Jul 4
Should I force fetch my dog?
This is a question that seems to be asked often by dog owners and handlers. It is usually followed up with the following; At what age should I begin?
In my humble opinion you need to break a dog to force fetch only if they don’t retrieve naturally. Other reasons would be if they do not retrieve reliably and if they happen to have the two difficult mouth problems, hard-mouth and sloppy-mouth. And of course this is from the view of a hunter.
I play retrieve with my puppies both in the house and in the yard starting from the day they arrive to their new home. They soon learn the game of fetch and give as I condition my puppy to learn to love retrieving.
I have owned less than a dozen pointing dogs in my life and only had/have performed force fetch to 3 of them. But then again I am an avid hunter and I don’t always require my dogs to retrieve downed game. When sent I do not require delivery to hand. I recently failed a leg of an AKC Senior Hunt Test when my dog did not retrieve a downed bird as specified to the test requirement. In a Senior Hunt Test the dog is not required to retrieve to hand, one or two steps is acceptable.
Force fetch is necessary to ensure consistent delivery with manners. One should enlist the help of a professional and know that the process may not be fun at times. Force fetch trains the dog to know that there is no other option to bring the bird, bumper, etc. on command.
I do believe force fetch helps in other areas like the dog adjusting to training pressure.
It generally draws the handler and dog closer together, improves obedience and cooperation.
The answer to the second question is generally 7 to 9 months old. By this age the dog should come when called, runs in the field with lots of drive, purpose and excitement.
My question would be why wouldn't you force fetch train.