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Thread: 4 year old silver lab?

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    Member shimano 33's Avatar
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    Default 4 year old silver lab?

    I was offered a silver lab today and was wondering how hard it would be to train a 4 year old lab to retrieve ducks? Is it worth taking the chance and trying to train? or best to break down and just buy a pup? Thanks for any info

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Why not ask this question on the dog training forum? Are you new to the internet and not familiar with how forums are used?

    Is the dog's obedience really good now?

    Does the dog have a lot of drive?

    In order for the dog to learn it has to have drive and you have to be able to control it so that it can focus on its job.

    You have to consider that you are going to have to spend a lot of time reversing four years of learned behavior.

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    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Ray. Lots of ?s would have to be answered before I'd buy or accept a 4 yr old lab (for hunting). If the dog has been trained before and has been hunted over than you might me ok. If the dog is gun shy or has never been exposed to gun fire you may have a tough time. My dog is only 2.5 years old but we have put lots of hours of training into him and I wouldn't have any other way. If you have the time and resources I'd go with a pup. Just my two cents. It's easier to start new then try to fix old habits.

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    Let me just put in my own experience, and you can take it for what it's worth-about as much as you paid for it.

    I got a 6 yr old yellow lab from a hunter who was moving, bla bla bla. I was told: "He's a great hunting dog. Hunted him the last 4 seasons bla bla bla." Double marks and blind marks really well bla bla bla." "Whistle trained and not a lick of gun shy. (That one was actually true.) Bottom line, the guy who gave me this awesome "free" akc registered dog from a hunting kennel in the Lower 48, gave me a used car.

    The dog does awesome with training bumpers. Not so much with birds. He has tons of drive. He would retrieve bumpers until his heart exploded if I let him. He's actually a lot of fun to train and work with. But he's not (as yet) a hunting dog. (Might not ever be.)

    He has a problem with food posessiveness. He can't get enough food, and it distracts him from everything. My son left a happy meal on the kitchen table, and within seconds, the dog was on the table and had woofed it all down. He eats random food scraps he finds on walks, then vomits it up in the house at night. Yeah, it's like that.

    In the blind, when he sees a duck, he starts jumping and whining; he just wants to "go" so bad. (I'm told that is simply a lack of experience, which disspells all the fluff I was told when I got the dog.) (By the way, He gets the same way when he sees me with a shotgun.) Last season, on our first three ducks, he did an AWESOME retrieve. My girlfriend held him out of sight, on the other side of a hill from the pond we were hunting over. She turned him loose after the shooting stopped, and he climbed the hill, ran down tot the water, jumped in, sway 30 yrds, grabbed the first bird and brought it right to me (another 20 yrds.) The he refused to let the bird go. He eventually ate the entire bird, and, of course, puked it up 6 hours later. (Worst smell I ever smelled.) I sent the nephews out in a canoe with a fish net to get the other two ducks.

    But the dog is actually a terrific dog. He's GREAT with kids from toddlers on up. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Sooooo we started to taking him to Baron out at Wetland Retrievers. Now Baron is awesome, and the dog made great improvements with him. But Baron doesn't train for free, and we've probably spent close to $800 or so thus far. I plan to have him out there a lot this summer, although I don't know where the money is coming from yet.

    So there you have it. Free dogs are never free, especially hunting dogs. This silver lab, even if it's a great dog with a lot of heart, will cost you some bucks and a lot of time at the least with zero guarantee of anything. On the flip side, I've really begun to believe that I saved this dog from a pretty sad life, and I look at the idea of a "rescue dog" differently than I did in the past. I get the impression that hunting dog "wash outs" are as common as, and similar to, sled dog "wash outs."

    I apologize for the length of the post, but I didn't want to just post "don't do it" with nothing useful to support that opinion. I think you could have a real winner on your hands, but you could have a disaster there as well. If you go into this, go into it expecting nothing in return. (That's not to say have no expectations of the dog.) I'm not sure I would do this again, hindsight being 20/30 or something.

    But hey, if you do decide to take this dog on, get in touch with Baron out at Wetland Retrievers; you'll probably need professional help with it. Also, I see from your profile that you're in Anchorage. Come by anytime and we can work the dogs together. (My dog LOVES other dogs-almost to a fault.) I've got a lot of training aids and such, just don't take my training advice lol.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by FL2AK-Old Town; 04-19-2012 at 00:45. Reason: grammar

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    I get the impression that hunting dog "wash outs" are as common as, and similar to, sled dog "wash outs."
    Also called "started" dogs in some areas of the country........started down the road to insanity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Also called "started" dogs in some areas of the country........started down the road to insanity.
    That one made me laugh.

    I'll say one thing though: I may not have a hunting machine, but I've learned a lot about dogs and dog handling since I got mine, and that has been a valuable return.

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    I got a "started" dog as well. He is the most gunshy dog I have ever had. He could be a great hunter if he could get over the gun issue. I still love him to death though. Even though he is a big pain in the butt most of the time.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
    I am a shoveler's worst nightmare!

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    I got a "started" dog as well. He is the most gunshy dog I have ever had. He could be a great hunter if he could get over the gun issue. I still love him to death though. Even though he is a big pain in the butt most of the time.
    One way to possibly cure gunshyness.....

    If you have other buddies with dogs (that aren't gunshy), have them come over to a place you all can shoot. Put your dog on the chain where he can see the action. Then take the other dogs over a ways and throw the dummies and shoot and REALLY raise a ruckus having a good time....praising the dogs and really hamming it up. Be really loud with the "good boys" running around throwing the dummy, shooting, running....just really act like you are having a ball. If your dog looks like he's going nuts wanting to join then let him. Bring him out, throw the dummy and shoot. If he shy's away again, but him back on the chain. Then repeat the whole thing all over. This has been known to work on dogs that love to retrieve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    I got a "started" dog as well. He is the most gunshy dog I have ever had. He could be a great hunter if he could get over the gun issue. I still love him to death though. Even though he is a big pain in the butt most of the time.
    And that's something else to take into consideration-if the dog won't hunt, but the whoe family loves him, you're stuck with him for life.

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    I would say blessed with him. He's a great dog.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
    I am a shoveler's worst nightmare!

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    I wonder if the OP ever decided to accept the dog or not.

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