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Lettre d'information de février 2010

Pass Along RJ
February 2010

The Two Sides of Force-Fetch

by Steve Smithbird image


There are two camps with opposite views, and sometimes it's like the blue and the gray the night before Pickett's Charge -- you get the feeling that here is an irreconcilable difference that could erupt.

For those who aren't acquainted with the concept, FF -- or the "trained retrieve" -- is the process by which a retriever is made to undergo being "taught" by pressure of some kind, that he just must retrieve when commanded. The dog may be a perfect natural retriever that fetches with enthusiasm and joy. Doesn't matter. He gets taken to school with an ear-pinch and sometimes the e-collar. It's a process that can take weeks, the dog can get sullen, and after a while, you wonder why you're doing it. The dog is your pal, after all, and this is supposed to be fun.

The anti-force-fetch folks know all of this and can best be described as belonging to the "natural retrieve" school. With the right breeding, a retriever will eagerly do just that -- retrieve. Why force him to do what he wants and indeed lives to do anyway? It can turn him off to the entire enterprise, they say.

On the other side, the pro-FFers, is the following rationale: Everything we command the dog to do, from simple obedience to whistle-sits at a distance to complicated handling, has a mechanism for making sure the command is obeyed: a leash, a longline, an e-collar -- whatever. Why, then should we not have a mechanism in place to enforce the command to retrieve? Retrieving, after all, is why we got the dog, not for sitting or heeling or staying. Proper FF training ensures the dog will retrieve every time, not just when he wants to, but when you want him to. And he'll have fewer mouth problems -- mashing birds, loose holds, those sorts of things.

Whichever side you come down on, understand that there will be pitfalls and pratfalls. At some point, the natural-retrieve followers will experience a time when the dog simply chooses not to retrieve, or chooses to be sloppy about it. The FF proponents will sometimes have the training experience turn into a battle they'd just as soon avoid; there have been cases of well-mannered dogs trying to take a chunk out of the Old Man during the process. Nobody promised us a perfect world.

No matter how you feel about FF, rest assured you have lots of company, and to an outsider looking in, no one can claim absolute surety. Ender

February is Pet Dental Health Month -- Keep your dog healthy!

Dental disease is one of the most common problems in canines, and one of the most preventable! Not taking time to take care of your dog's mouth can lead to severe health issues, including cardiac, kidney, and liver problems. What should you do to keep that from happening? According to Dr. Dave Erlewein DVM, our online health correspondent, "Proper basic dental care involves four basic concepts: 1) A healthy, nutritious diet; 2) Effective chew treats and toys; 3) Home dental evaluation and cleaning; and 4) Professional evaluation and cleaning when needed."

Suggested by Dr. Erlewein, the Veterinary Oral Health Council's list of diet, treat, and chew products given their seal of acceptance can be found at

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