How Do I Teach Retrieving?

I feel that sometimes force breaking is necessary. However, you should always consider the nature of your SM first – and the possible ill effects to his sensitive nature. Force breaking has its advantages. Once broken in this manner, a dog can be expected to be directed to retrieve any type of game bird, hare, rabbit or even fox. Many methods and devices for this end have been employed – but perhaps you don't feel like using force.

So here's a method that is simple, effective, and not quite so drastic as most other methods:

When the young dog (on a check cord) noses the bird or fur but won't pick it up, simply take either front paw and double it back at the first joint. He will open his mouth, and you can insert the bird in his mouth with your free hand. After insertion, release the paw, and if he drops the bird, repeat the procedure three or four times. He probably will be more responsive in the next session. Eventually, he will hold the bird correctly. Once he has decided to do this, start backing up, holding on to a short length of the check cord, and voicing the command "FETCH!" as you reel him in to you. Once he gets to you, don't be too eager to receive the bird, but praise him and allow him to carry it around for a while. The procedure for you to obtain the bird when he's ready, is to sit him on your left, reach down your outstretched hand under his lower jaw, nuzzling your hand under the protruding bird, saying "Give" or "Drop". If he doesn't release the bird to your hand, pet and praise him again and repeat the command. If he still persists in holding on to the bird, lift an ear flap with your right hand and blow into his ear. This will usually make him release the bird into your free hand.