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Friday, December 12, 2008

Forced Retrieve / Ear Pinch

A couple of days ago, I blogged about my struggles with teaching Bosley about Dumbbell work.  A couple of the comments on my comment page were asking how would an ear pinch work to teach a retrieve.  

I have not used this method, but I know that it is a very popular way for hunting enthusiasts and competitive obedience people to train a retrieve.  I cannot personally comment either way about the positives or negatives about using an "ear pinch" except to say that it is not the way that I choose to train.  I try to use mostly positive reinforcement in my training where as the "forced retrieve" uses negative reinforcement (something removed increases behavior).  The ear is pinched and when the dog holds the dumbbell the pinch is removed and as the operant conditioning theory suggests, the dog will be more likely to increase the frequency in which he holds the dumbbell in order to avoid the negative reinforcer (ear pinch).

Here is a link to an article that explains this method better: Ear Pinch


  1. OUCH... I believe in positive reinforcement!


  2. for the record, this is not how EVERYONE trains an ear-pinch. Connie Cleveland, who is a great trainer in her own right, has a very large section in her book on the ear pinch - it is not an aversive used to get the dog to TAKE the db, it is used as a correction for the dog that fails to take the db. A dog is not pinched to get them to open their mouths.

  3. Hi Doberkim,
    So you are saying that the ear pinch is used as a Positive Punishment - the ear is pinched in order to decrease refusal of the dumbbell? Do I have that correct? Since I do not personally use the ear pinch method, I do not want to have the wrong information. All the videos I have seen and what I have read seem to lead towards the ear pinch as being used as a neg.reinforcer. The ear pinch(or pressure, as most trainers seem to call it) is only released when the dog grabs the dumbbell or is holding the dumbbell without struggling. Can you briefly explain or give me links to me the method you are describing?

  4. Way back when I was training my first collie, we were taught the ear pinch in classes!! This was about 1978, it was the Koehler method....we used the pinch to make the dogs open their mouth , I never thought anything of it at the time, it worked, then to teach the retrieve I remember the same thing, you took the round part of the choke , put it against the dogs ear, hold it there without pinching, but if they didn't start out for the dumbell, you pinched. It was horrible , & now that I know better, (I was only 15), I wish I could see my collie Ben , hug him, & ask his forgiveness at being so stupid.

  5. I read the article & it didn't sound as bad as when I saw what my trainer did to my friend. I am a soft dog & anything can crush my spirit, easily even with a raise of your voice. That day when I was strangled, my love for OB was shut down & Mommy just wanted to cry coz I used to hate OB from young but then later loved it when Mommy made it fun. But after that day, I hated OB again. Mommy was so upset that she allowed me to go through such trauma just to hold the dumbbell. My trainer is a nice man but he is more into military kinda training. He doesn't understand that he cannot use the same method for all dogs. It just doesn't not work that way but I forgive him.

    You see, what works for some dogs may not work for others & definitely this method, is not for me & not for other softy dogs. For hardy & hyperactive dogs, it may be a different story. Anyway, Mommy has no rush in teaching me to do any commands. She say it's okay if it takes up to many weeks, months or even a year. She said, just as long I learn it, do it correctly & love what I'm doing. That's all!

    Butt wiggles,
    Solid Gold Dancer