Without breakfast, Kiara was very keen to train today. After one warm up try in the house, we took the newspaper outside for the first time. And Kiara brought it back beautifully, whether I threw it, or placed it in the garden with her inside. From a shredder to a retriever in around 8 training sessions of maybe 5 minutes each. Next step: Hide the paper.
Kiara, my whippet, used to shred the rolled up newspaper in the front yard whenever she could get her paws on it. I decided to try and teach her to find and bring it back instead some time ago. Problem was, she wasn't interested in putting it in her mouth at all. But I had been able to train her to retrieve balls and other toys successfully (so much for whippets not enjoying retrieving), so it should be possible with the newspaper.
We started a few weeks ago. I held the newspaper up in front of her (if it was on the ground, she started shredding it), and clicked her for sniffing. Then for opening her mouth a tiny bit. Then for allowing me to put the newspaper in her mouth for a fraction of a second (not actually holding it). Then for a tiny hold. A slightly longer hold. Dropping it in my hand, not on the floor. Walking one step and dropping it in my hand. And so on. By now, she bounces up to me as soon as she sees the newspaper. Now I can place it on the floor, she will pick it up (not shred it), carry it for a few metres and drop it in my hand. We're ready for the cue now ("get the paper"), and I might start hiding it a little. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to shape her behaviour with clicker training.
I started my dog journey with Jessie, a small white fluffball bichon-schnauzer cross. She was trained in the traditional way by choke collar and praise via voice. After she died, Giro, my smooth collie, taught me how wrong this approach was. Kiara, my whippet, reaped all the benefits, and can't wait for her training every day, all day!