Michelle... these guys are right. All of them in different ways... I would take ALL of their advice!
1. teach him to "take it" and "out", reliably (100%) with low/non drive items, something he does not connect with any drive (chase) behavior, something completely neutral (old cup, dumbell, spoon, etc), better yet, something he doesn't even want.
Use a HIGH value food reward. Something he REALLY likes so he will be more focused on the food than the object. (so you don't create a similar drivey reaction with a new object) Teach him to take it with marker training. You will identify the correct behavior, gradually shaping it from a touch, to mouthing it, to taking it, each time identifying and rewarding the desired behavior. When you identify the correct behavior, like 'take it', he will drop it to get the treat. you then start having him hold it longer and stop identifying the take or hold, but put your hand under or on the object, present the treat, say out JUST AS he is about to release and identify the release and then reward. Work on this with many different objects, until he will take and release ANYTHING!
2. you should not add throwing and getting a retrieve with any object until you are reliable without the drive. Remember, that is part of distraction training. If he cant do it (anything) when he is calm and focused, he most certainly cant do it when he is all revved up. You have to work up to that.
Teaching a "back up" prior to throwing things is also a good idea. It is asking for space and respect for your ownership of that object before you give it back.
3. I think your biggest problem is that you are too eager to compete with your new "working dog" before you have properly taught him HOW to do what you are asking in a calm focused way (this includes games like fetch)... stress #1... you take him to stimulating environments to ask for behavior he cannot perform reliably in a NON stress environment... get him revved up... and put pressure on him... stress #2, 3, and 4... redirected biting? I cant imagine why
A common problem I see in all sports, is a trainer encouraging a dog to work in a higher level of drive than they have ability to control. They see the best border collies in agility, the best protection dogs, or field dogs are super drivey... It is not all about drive. If your dog isn't calm enough to focus, and you don't have the control you need, its all a waste. You have a lot of fast, inconsistent behavior. Those awesome dogs have owners that can handle them (thus the term "handler"). You have a lot to learn. Riggs will teach you a lot, but you must teach him first. Prepare him fairly and you will go far.
Please DONT think I didn't learn all of this the HARD way! Just trying to save you, and your dogs a lot of frustration.
I don't ask my dogs, to do anything, in any environment I haven't properly prepared them for. If I am taking them somewhere new, its my priority to teach them in that situation, not test them. A match or schooling trial is not where you train, its where you test your training. I think you dog has trouble trusting what you ask because he has not been properly prepared. It doesn't matter if its agility, protection, taking a walk, or playing fetch. He has a lot of energy that needs to be drained, he needs to be trained, to do LOTS of stuff, thoroughly and reliably, under many distractions (gradually) and environments. You are very strict about how you live with, exercise, feed and control your dog, but not as thorough about training. I know you are eager to do lots of stuff with him... but wait and do the things he can handle, when he is ready. Otherwise you blow his trust and increase his stress and affect his ability to be reliable.
You are encouraging a high energy level, combined with an obsessive behavior, drive, and a lack of control.
My opinion is that your redirected biting, during fetch or bite work, IS handler error. But not the way you think. He is redirecting his frustration (stress) for the ball, or the helper, toward you... that is a cue to get him working better, and more calmly so he can have more confidence and less conflict with what he thinks he is supposed to do. Its a stress response... triggered under pressure, in drive.
You CAN have TOO MUCH drive stress.
Sparing in boxing or karate is about calm, focussed energy, directed in a very specific way to be efficient. Agression occurs when too much energy and excitement cause agression and frustration. Then you begin to react rather than think your way through your counter respose. You LEARN to react effectively... instinct helps, but cannot be allowed to rule.
Wolf puppies have prey drive, will chase what moves, but if they dont learn to control that drive, they will never be efficient hunters.
If you asked a hyperactive child with ADD who couldn't read very well to do so out loud in front of a class (social stress). He would either rebel against his teacher, peers, or avoid the situation to the best of his ability in this position in the future. Will he be asked to do it again? Yes. Will he do it? Yes. But wouldn't it be so much better to teach him to read first? Then when he is calm, confident, and paying attention, and capable of it, ask him to do it?
He KNOWS how to CHASE a ball, GET the ball, and KEEP the ball. Just start over.
You wouldn't allow him off leash, in a field, with chickens... if he hasn't been taught to listen, come, and ignore the chickens first...
Remind me to keep my chickens in when you come over.
Sorry for the long post Michelle. Not picking on you. Just had to get MY frustration out.
Lets make plans to train again soon... I will show you what I mean.
Guys... also notice I was encouraging her to use FOOD in her training... Riggs is just thin because she isn't teaching him enough! He is starving for knowledge!