As many already know - I've been experimenting with the trained retrieve as an alternative to force fetch. It's been a while and I have had a couple interruptions of Field Trials, etcetera - I thought perhaps an update was in order.
I started with three pupils. A six year old Vizsla Female, (Tessa) A 3 1/2 year old Vizsla Male (Hank) and an 18 month old Vizsla Male, (Leuc). The first observation is the males seem a little slower to "get it", but then the sampling is very small so take that for what it's worth. Of the two males, the one is to the point of almost picking up the dowel from the floor - he is the slowest, but also the least food motivated. I've found he takes the treat - but by giving loads of praise at milestone moments it helps set the behavior better in his mind.
The younger male is very food motivated and will offer other behaviors. Keys with him seem to be proper timing of the click and also copious praise at milestone moments. I moved too quickly on the transition to whole chuckar from the chuckar feathered dowel and backed up running through the same steps as a first introduction. He understands the steps and is progressing through them quickly. I anticipate he will be reliably retrieving the whole chuckar in the training setup within a week. A client loaned me a Go Pro headset camera and I'm testing it out in this video.
The female just ticked everything one by one off the list. It could be her age, it could be her food motivation.
My conclusions thus far are that I like this method. It takes some time, but the dogs look forward to each session and it builds a learning link between handler/trainer and student. I've gotten to the point of shooting birds over the female and have gotten about 90% retrieve. All of them are understanding what I want as a trainer and are trying to please. Hope it is useful to others! If questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.