For you readers who wish to study Wildrose’s traditional method of hold conditioning, you may turn to pages 117-121 in Sporting Dog and Retriever Training the Wildrose Way, (New York: Universe Publishing, 2012). Mike’s detailed discussion of the conditioning sequence also features two pages of illustrative photographs.
The discussion in this article presents an alternative method of training a dog to hold a bumper, using a group of dogs. It’s a very useful exercise for dogs who have not performed flawlessly after traditional training. This training exercise employs a dog’s willingness to mimic another dog’s behavior.
Here’s how the group dynamic positive hold conditioning method works: The handler places a dog-in-training between two dogs that are seasoned veterans. First, the handler places the bumper in one veteran dog’s mouth and praises the dog, by name, for holding it steadily. Then, the handler places a bumper in the other veteran dog’s mouth and praises both dogs for holding—again naming both dogs.
Next, the handler places one of the bumper’s in the dog-in-training’s mouth. Having just seen that the other dog’s get praised for holding the bumper, the dog-in-training mimics them. Again the handler praises the dog, stating his name. The handler then takes a bumper from one of the veteran dogs and places it in the other veteran’s mouth. This is a strategy to get the dog-in-training to hold the bumper steadily with a distraction. Again, the handler praises both dogs, each by name, for their steady holding.
The photo sequence in the gallery shows this exercise with Indian and Beretta as the veteran dogs.
Note: This article is a companion to the training article that Mike has printed in the current Wildrose Journal. Please refer to the Journal for another training exercise on hold conditioning.