Question: I've been working through your hold conditioning program with my GSP for about a month. He will now hold anything I give him for as long as I desire, but he will not accept anything without me opening his mouth and inserting it. He also will not retrieve. Any suggestions?
Answer: Thanks for the message. I think there is a lot here and it might be most helpful to have you listen first to our recent podcast. It was based on a similar question and I think it would be good for you to hear my response. To give you a cliff notes response, see below.
1. I don't need the dog to impulsively or otherwise take or grab objects. That is not the reason for Hold Conditioning. 2. Retrieving is necessary first and foremost. Hold polishes the delivery, it doesn't teach dogs to retrieve. 3. Not knowing the age of your dog (which is important) it's a little like the chicken and the egg, which comes first? I always have my dogs making some kind of retrieve before I go into any kind of formal hold. That's not to say that you can't do it reverse, but I think the understanding of hold is meaningless without the ability to connect it to the act of retrieving. That's why I figure out how to bring out retrieve in the dog first. Your dog almost certainly has some natural retrieve inside it, you have to get that going before you can formalize the delivery.