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Do We Need a New Form of Force Fetch?

It’s nothing new to overhear, or in the case of social media, see someone making the claim that Force Fetch is outdated, unfair, or simply unnecessary. As someone who has gone through the traditional Force Fetch program a number of times now, I personally don’t find it as concerning as others do. That’s assuming the trainer understands the program completely and goes at an appropriate pace. Both of which are very large assumptions...

Lucy, the Small Munsterlander, during Force Fetch back in 2019

The reason why I don't find it as concerning as some might is because, ultimately, I do think the program is fair to the dog. When going at the appropriate pace, everything has been shown to the dog and conditioned to where the "force" part of the program is very minimal.

That being said, I have even found myself doing away with certain aspects of the program every time I go through it. I recognize that, if the desire to retrieve is there along with the dog understanding how to turn pressure off, then a lot of the steps or processes of a traditional program can be unnecessary or simply inefficient at best. Inefficient in time and repetitions required to get through the program but also in regards to the relationship between handler and dog. Let's face it, certain steps requiring direct contact from the handler to squeeze an ear or pinch a toe to cause discomfort is, by definition, inserting conflict between the handler and dog on the table.

I enjoy exploring new concepts, theories, and approaches in the dog training world. This doesn't mean I apply everything I hear or learn, but I do recognize the only way to get better is to acknowledge and dissect others' approaches to figure out why something works or doesn’t work. One area in which I haven’t spent much time exploring alternative methods would be Force Fetch. That is until I started hearing from numerous listeners, taking notice of the social media posts that seem to be growing more frequent, as well as reading other written pieces by other trainers or platforms.

This is how I found myself in discussions with Chris Armanini of Full Send K9. Chris comes from the world of NePoPo® and brings a fresh new approach to the gun dog world in what a formal trained retrieve program can look like in contrast to the more traditional approaches we have all become more familiar with.

Over the next few weeks, we will feature written blogs by Chris breaking down his approach and step-by-step process to his "Unforced Forced Fetch- NePoPo® Style." This isn’t an attempt to turn your world upside down and completely alter how you perform your forced fetch program. Moreso, this is to help inject some much-needed modern thinking into the program that hasn’t really altered much in generations. If nothing else, hopefully, this blog series will provide you with the opportunity to better understand your own process!

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