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Thread: How much training is necassary?

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    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Default How much training is necassary?

    What's the least amount of training required for a retriever? Kind of a weird question and maybe requires a case by case answer. I have been training my lab pup. He is 7 months old. He seems very smart, eager to please and a ton of drive. My one complaint is he seems to be a bit mouthy. But I think I'm getting it dialed down. I think,,,. He is also a soft dog. He responds well to praise. Better so though than negative reinforcement.

    We recently went through force fetch. He hated it of course and I think it set us back in training. He went from never having associated me with anything unpleasant to now he has.. I regret that.

    Anyway, I'm watching all these training videos and its piles and piles of drills. How much is really necessary? I just want my dog to get me grouse or ducks. I don't care if he cheats the shoreline, Or a deliver to hand. At my feet is just fine. For 10 months of the year I really just want a buddy.

    I'm really more concerned about him having good camp/blind/boat manners. And I want him to hold still.

    I've seen some videos where dogs went out and got ducks, with just minimal playing fetch in the yard

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    Where I am at with my dog. He sits very well, and will stay sit for a long time. At least 5-8 minutes. Which is about when I get bored of watching him sit. I have walked away about 300 yards from him as well as out of his sight and he still sits. He sits on a whistle as well. He comes and heels good. walking heel he gets out in front a lot, we are working on that. Right now we are just starting casting and he is picking it up very well.

    I do need to get more birds in his mouth though. the couple that have been in there he wanted to chew up.

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    First, I'm not giving advice, because I don't know what I'm doing. I've read a few books (water dog, etc.) and watched a few dvd's, and that's it. Maybe this post is to make you feel better about your training :-) Sounds like your dog is pretty good for a 7mo retriever.

    I have a 7mo lab. I did an ok job of working with him until November, since then it's just been 'fetch'. I have tons of 'excuses'.....

    He sits, lays down, and will stay but not as well as your dog. I still give a treat sometimes on a retrieve. I've tossed a frozen wing and he's all about it- but he has to be on the lead and get dragged back- he does NOT want to give up the wing. A ball or dummy he'll drop but not the wing. Need to work on that.

    He's recently started to enjoy stealing my girl's mittens...and not bringing them back. I won't chase him...which has made me start thinking about a shock collar. Not sure that's a good plan or not and I haven't read up on it.

    My original goal was to work with him for 15 minutes a day. That's a tolerable length of time for man and beast. I'm going to try to get back to that goal. From what I've been told, fifteen minutes a day will suffice for a good gun dog.

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    I raised and trained labs for many, many years to hunt, retrieve, hangout with and be a buddy in the field. With that being said the training never stops from time in the house on the does and don't of house behavior to being in the truck going to the store or traveling to the field. I would rather the dog behave and follow direction in whatever we are doing than the need to make a double blind retrieve. If the dog can't behave at home then he will not behave in the field which equates to no harvested game. Besides at the end of the day he's still your buddy that is setting in the muck with you. Training does not have to take an hour everyday it can be as little as 5 min in the morning or evening or even putting him on a sit and hold walk 25yds away and have him wait to get pulled off. You are teaching far more in keeping his attention in something as simple as that than you would ever believe. Keep thinks simple and short and have fun.

    Sweepint
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    I had my pup out hunting with me and retrieving at 11 months. We had the obedience thing down pretty good. If you have him well mannered he should be out there with you hunting right away and getting used to all the things that go on in the duck blind. Go with a buddy and pay attention to your dog and not so much the birds (tough to do on opening day) let your buddy shoot and you take the time to handle the dog on the do's and dont's because the first hunts will be something completly new for him. If he is well mannered it shouldnt take too long before he gets what his job is when hunting.
    My dog was absolutly terrable at marking shot birds and looking where the barrel was pointed when we first started, so get him familiar with hand signals. She is now 2 and is pretty good at marking now.
    I was so excited to send my new pup on her first retrieve and see how a summer of training would work out, well the first bird went down and I sent her out to go pick it up and watched as she lined right to it only to step on it on her way past it. My mistake was that I had only used bumpers for her to retrieve and didnt use anything that even resembled a duck so when I sent her out on that first retrieve she went looking for her bumper and not a duck so if you can get a frozen bird or wings and get him used to the smell of birds that would help.
    I am by no means a trainer and wouldnt even consider myself a novice but this is what helped with getting my gun dog working for me. Its awesome watchig your dog make good retrieves.
    Good luck

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    Ill always keep him brushed up on his manners. He's a very mellow dog in the house and the truck. So long as he gets some exercise everyday. I have a frozen grouse that we are practicing holding with and not chewing up. I had bumpers I was wrapping with duck wings, but those were getting eaten. I saw on craigslist some mallard ducks for sale. I think Ill buy one here soon so he can practice carrying that. Luckily during the day we get lots of short sessions of training in.

    Also its not that I don't want to spend the time training my dog, but its boring for me as well when we are just forcing to pile or doing a lot of stern work. Id rather just throw bumpers and balls for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweepint View Post
    I raised and trained labs for many, many years to hunt, retrieve, hangout with and be a buddy in the field. With that being said the training never stops from time in the house on the does and don't of house behavior to being in the truck going to the store or traveling to the field. I would rather the dog behave and follow direction in whatever we are doing than the need to make a double blind retrieve. If the dog can't behave at home then he will not behave in the field which equates to no harvested game. Besides at the end of the day he's still your buddy that is setting in the muck with you. Training does not have to take an hour everyday it can be as little as 5 min in the morning or evening or even putting him on a sit and hold walk 25yds away and have him wait to get pulled off. You are teaching far more in keeping his attention in something as simple as that than you would ever believe. Keep thinks simple and short and have fun.
    I like this advice, Matt.
    Can u explain what u meant in post 1 by ... "Mouthy''?
    My pup, Nova, just turned one yr in Feb. She is doing real good by my standards, which are similar to yours. Sweetpints advice about making it fun is important early on. They have short attention spans when young. I attribute my success to my dogs 'natural' abilities. If there's good genes, their basic instincts do a lot for them. Encourage those natural instincts. It will grow into something bigger and better. Seven months is still a very immature dog.
    I went to an electric collar at about age 6 months. One of the best ideas you could do. ( I too, was reluctant to go that way. But do it, Matt. ). It will make training soooo much easier/ better for the both of you. Plus, for the rest of the dogs life, you will essentially have a long 'leash' on your dog whenever you want. Invaluable!
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    [QUOTE=rimfirematt;1530220
    Also its not that I don't want to spend the time training my dog, but its boring for me as well when we are just forcing to pile or doing a lot of stern work. Id rather just throw bumpers and balls for him.[/QUOTE]

    What is... 'Forcing to pile'?
    My thoughts on your above quote, to me, is a bit of a red flag. If you're bored, the dog probably is as well. Training a young dog has to be fun for them. It all about 'fun' when they are young. I would be ' sneaking' the training parts in, as u are having the fun with your dog. A quik 'heal' here. A quik 'whoa' there. Mix diff commands in with play times. Guard against forcing them into doing things longer than they are comfortable with. That will come later.
    I have been fortunate to get Nova at about my retirement time. So I get to spend LOTS of time with her. While there are still things I want to improve on her, I am pretty sure they will come to fruition. At 6 months she stood by my side as I shot my blackie. She retrieved ducks at 7 months. She's a 'pointing fool' for spruce hens. (I never knew our population of them was so good down here till she showed me this past fall/winter.).
    Nova has picked up ques from me in the field by being in the field with me, a lot. Give your dog more time. It will come.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Whenever he brings a bumper back he is always chomping on it. That's what I mean by mouthy. But I think he only does it if I make him sit and hold it.. If I let him just run up to me with it and let him spit it on the ground then I don't think its a problem. He does know the hold command, but he definitely doesn't do it naturally. Forcing to pile is where you work on your hand signals. Its just a big pile of bumpers that you have them go over to over and over. Now in the limited casting that we have done, my dog gets in the brush and he will hunt and hunt till he finds that bumper. in fact if I make him sit and look at me he has a hard time seeing what I'm signaling anyway. He doesn't need much help from me. But I can see the advantage if the action is hot and you need him to get birds quick so he can clear the area. I do have him an e collar. and he is conditioned on it with his basic obedience commands of sit, here, and heel.

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    A lot of this, perhaps most of this, has to do with what you want out of your dog in the field. Sounds like you two have bonded well and you have made, or are in the process of making him a good citizen while teaching him commands that will also keep him safe from harm. Not everyone who has a hunting dog needs to have that dog performing up to field trial standards. All the training must be fun for the dog and,likewise, the time you spend hunting with him must also be fun for both of you. Otherwise you don't need a hunting dog/partner.

    I like to spend at least 15 minutes twice a day working with pointing dog pups. But then, everything you say or do around the pup is training in one form or another.

    Wishing you both the best. You have a grand adventure ahead of both of you. Your dog is the best friend you'll ever have, bar none.

    Jim

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    First off.....you will get out of your dog what you put into him. The more time you put in the better the dog will be. As sweepint said, for some, training is a nonstop thing. It was that way for me. But if there is only a certain amount of training that you desire your dog to have then that is only up to you. What I do know though, that when certain situations develop in the field and something comes up that you hadn't trained for, you'll really, REALLY wish you had.

    Some guys could care less about hand signals, some don't care about using the whistle. Personally I believe hand signals are essential to a good bird dog, but could go without the whistle. I never used it when first training but when I decided to try it the dog picked up on it really quick.

    One thing that a buddy of mine and I were talking about recently, as he is now training his lab, is what we feel is a must that a good bird dog should learn? I thought about it for awhile and personally I think it is to train the dog to take a good line. Letting a dog use it's instincts is one thing, but in order for the dog to do that it needs to know what general area the bird is in because there will be plenty of times when you shoot, or somebody else does, and for some reason or another the dog will miss where the bird fell. If a dog will not go where you tell it, you will end up making a lot of retrieves yourself......lol. Yes, to me getting a dog to take a straight line for as long as you tell it, weather it be 50 yards or 500, weather over water or land, or water land and water again, will really make hunting with them a joy.

    I feel a big part of training is to work on the dog's attention span. And an even bigger part is getting the dog to trust you. Meaning, training the dog to trust that you know where the bird is. When a dog learns that then the sky is the limit. All the dog wants to do is find the bird, so if he knows that YOU know where the bird is, then he'll watch and listen intently to your signals. This again is all based on teaching a dog to take a good line....because they trust you.

    7 months is still very young. Some breeds don't come into their prime for years. But this doesn't mean becoming complacent. There will be times when your dog doesn't want to go to school, and if you've done your part there will come a time that all the dog wants to do is go to school. Just be open to the signs of what he/she is telling you. Have you shot over the dog yet? You need to make sure you break him in the right way there. Some dogs it doesn't faze, some it can dang near destroy. How about scent? Has he smelled any birds yet? All things to think about.

    Understand that if you get bored then the dog will get bored. There are all kinds if things that you can work on to make a better dog. Mix it up. Try new things. It's all about time invested. There's a huge difference between a dog that "might" find your bird, and a dog that WILL find it every time. Nobody wants to loose a bird. Don't make the mistake of thinking that if you only put a few minutes a day into your dog that it will find the bird every time. It just don't work that way. In the end, do you want a dog that you have to yell at to do everything the whole time you're out in the field? Or do you want a dog that will do everything really well on it's own with only a little "handling" from you?

    If you ask me, when it comes to doing something that you love, which is bird hunting, then it doesn't get any better than a perfectly trained dog in the field. Those dogs literally put food on the table.... I mean, if that's what you want.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    What's the least amount of training required for a retriever?
    Now that I think about it, it's a pretty easy answer really..... Until you have the kind of bird dog you want.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Thanks for all the replies guys. We just had another good training session. One thing I realized is I have a lot of time till bird season. And that I'm smart enough to tailor training to my dog. As in, I can think of different ways to skin a cat if I need to. I did that today and got a good response. I just got a little put off by this force fetch thing. And I picked up a video series by mike lardy. Its supposed to be a great series to watch and learn. But man he seems like a jerk to his dogs. That to me I didn't like either. I did pick up a video by Bill Hillman. I like his methods but his videos leave a lot of questions unanswered sometimes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    But man he seems like a jerk to his dogs. .
    All I gotta say is a guy better know his dog loves him a lot for him to take the chance of being a jerk to it, especially at the early stages. The last thing you want the dog to do is associate you being a pri*k when it's training time....

    No thanks......

    Oh and btw...I never had to do the force fetch thing with my dog, and she ended up being a phenomenal bird dog.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Oh and while I'm thinking about it, when you say your dog is being hard mouthed, is he actually chomping down on it or just moving it around in his mouth? If he is chomping down there are things you can do. Some guys put a few nails through the dummies at different angles with the points sticking out a little. Other guys would wrap a bit of chicken wire around it. They almost have to grab it easily that way.

    Personally, when I caught my dog starting to be a bit hard mouthed I would run up to her and first say the word "NO!!!" just once....then reach out and while the dog was holding the dummy, put my hand under her jaw so she would keep holding it, but I would pinch her lip against one of her canine teeth while softly repeating the word "easy" a few times. She learned after awhile.

    I don't know if you're doing it or not, but one of the best ways to make a dog become hard mouthed is to have them retrieve sticks or tennis balls. If you want to let them play with sticks or tennis balls, that's ok, but don't associate it with retrieving....just playing around with it.

    My chessie did have a tendency to be hard mouthed so I made sure she wasn't a stick dog. And I didn't ever let my kids, or anybody else throw sticks for her. Besides, you'd much rather your dog not bring back some ol' stick if he can't find the bird.....right?.......lol
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    Thanks for all the replies guys. We just had another good training session. One thing I realized is I have a lot of time till bird season. And that I'm smart enough to tailor training to my dog. As in, I can think of different ways to skin a cat if I need to. I did that today and got a good response. I just got a little put off by this force fetch thing. And I picked up a video series by mike lardy. Its supposed to be a great series to watch and learn. But man he seems like a jerk to his dogs. That to me I didn't like either. I did pick up a video by Bill Hillman. I like his methods but his videos leave a lot of questions unanswered sometimes.

    Im in agreement on your comment on 'more than one way to skin a cat'. I hope u keep posting on here Matt (and others). I am really interested in the input from all, too. I am still trying to learn tips and ways others have done things. I didn't teach mine hand signals in the yard during training times. Rather mine picked them up thru our daily walks in the woods an neighborhood. I started that as soon as I got her and now it's just natural for her to know that it means 'that's the way we're going'. Hopefully that will translate in the field next year for ducks too that she doesn't see go down. Although, like I said, this dogs nose is phenomenal. (She has smelled spruce hens in groves over 100 yards away more than once.) A couple issues I still want to improve on are... Always bringing bird back ALL the way to me. And getting her to stay put AFTER a shot until I release her. I think both will come with more experience so I'm not worried. I could probably do more of that work in the yard to help those things but, being in the field every day is so much more fun for us both.
    Funny too, how one day you question yourself or the dog cuz of a certain training session, and then you go out again and all seems great again. Happens to us all. Don't sweat it. It usually works itself out quickly. ( as u may have found out).
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Force fetch is not to be taken lightly, and often is best left to a pro trainer.

    Hand signals are very effective and make life much better in the field. Training hand signals can be fun for both you and the dog. I begin in the home, or you might have a better place at work or any place with a relatively long hallway with doors on both ends and a door in the middle of the hallway. Use pieces of hot dog or other treat. Kneel in the open doorway in the middle of the hallway and have the pup sit out in front of you. Get him interested in the treat and then toss it off down the hallway and use your hand to send him off in the right direction while you tell him "over." Do this in both directions. Then close off all the doors and take up a position at one end, and with the dog sitting out front of you send him "Back" and use that hand to send him off again after the thrown treat. Works for me and I like my pointing dogs to take my hand directions in the uplands when I have an area I want them to hunt, or if I know where a downed bird is that perhaps the dog didn't see.

    DVDs are great, but you don't have to do everything on every one of them. When training horses I watched all the videos and listened to all of the trainers and clinicians, then I learned to use different methods taken from each of several trainers to work horses. I tend to let the horse or the dog tell me what works best.

    Again, best of luck and enjoy the journey. I wouldn't hunt birds without a dog, and I've hunted birds a long time and hope to do so for a long time to come.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Oh and while I'm thinking about it, when you say your dog is being hard mouthed, is he actually chomping down on it or just moving it around in his mouth? If he is chomping down there are things you can do. Some guys put a few nails through the dummies at different angles with the points sticking out a little. Other guys would wrap a bit of chicken wire around it. They almost have to grab it easily that way.

    Personally, when I caught my dog starting to be a bit hard mouthed I would run up to her and first say the word "NO!!!" just once....then reach out and while the dog was holding the dummy, put my hand under her jaw so she would keep holding it, but I would pinch her lip against one of her canine teeth while softly repeating the word "easy" a few times. She learned after awhile.

    I don't know if you're doing it or not, but one of the best ways to make a dog become hard mouthed is to have them retrieve sticks or tennis balls. If you want to let them play with sticks or tennis balls, that's ok, but don't associate it with retrieving....just playing around with it.

    My chessie did have a tendency to be hard mouthed so I made sure she wasn't a stick dog. And I didn't ever let my kids, or anybody else throw sticks for her. Besides, you'd much rather your dog not bring back some ol' stick if he can't find the bird.....right?.......lol
    He is biting on the bumper. He about does mini tosses in the air with it while clamping down. I did read an article today that the author suggested it was the plastic bumpers being the culprit. Because they get slimy. He said he always trains with canvas bumpers. I did wrap one bumper with a bunch of wire that I twisted to make spikes. Then I wrapped those with duct tape. SO for the most part its not gonna stab him unless he bites down. I alternate with that bumper, a piece of ABS pipe wrapped in Duct tape and a Frozen bird. He holds all those well. But its when he is amped up and retrieving that it gets bad. and I'm too afraid to throw that spiked bumper for him. I don't want him getting hurt.

    I'm gonna continue hand signals. He's got the aptitude. And we have started anyway. He's dead on when we lay out the bumpers and he can see them. He still has trust issues though if I send him out on something he cant see and I try to cast him more than 30 yards. I might hide that grouse tomorrow and see what happens then. Also I'm gonna pick up more bumpers and lay them all in a straight line so he gets used to getting away from me.

    He doesn't get any sticks tossed to him. But I have been letting him play with a tennis ball. Its his reward for doing something good. Figured It would be easily distinguishable from all the normal training gear.

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    Matt,

    Train the dog until you are happy with the performance. With a young dog keep sessions short and make sure both you and the dog are in a good productive mood. I'm not sure what force fetch routine you went through but here are some steps I suggest. Start wherever you are and don't move to the next one until you have the previous steps down. Also, if there is a regression at any time or age back up and give your good dog a refresher. ( (do not start this until all adult teeth are in.

    1. "Hold"the dummy. No mouthing, no loose grip, hold it in the middle with head up like you are enjoying things. Except nothing but perfection, and praise profusely when you get it. 10-15 seconds is great. Command "give" with you hand on the dummy and tell your pup he's great when he does this. Flushing dog should sit while holding and so should my pointing dog but some pointing dog trainers like a standing retrieve.

    2. Extend the "hold." Good mouth manners, sitting or standing calmly for 15 minutes. Do this in the eve while you watch TV and for a few minutes before work. Once the pup can go for a minute start moving away from him bit by bit. Each session have a goal like 30 seconds or steppjng five more feet away until you can leave the room for a bit while he holds without moving his body or chomping or relaxing grip for 15 minutes. This could take a couple weeks for a diligent trainer.

    3. Add other commands "hold" with "heel," "here," and "whoa/sit." This takes a couple sessions or more. Be ready for your pup to drop the dummy when asked to do another command with the "hold". Get perfection on this, do it in multiple locations. Some say 7 locations are required for a dog to generalize a command. Keep sessions short 2-15 minutes. As with all steps end on a positive note.

    4. The force. Here is where you teach to reach and grab. Ear pinch or other force gets pup to open mouth and you push mouth to object. Add "fetch command while pup is grabbing dummy. Hold dummy about 6 inches in front of dog and remember to push dog into object. Dog should grab object 6 inches away on the word fetch before moving on. At this time, the ear pinch or other force will need to occur any time a second command is given because the dog did not comply on the first command. (Hint if you did your prework training the other steps there is usually very little force). In this step more than all the others keep sessions short and be in a good mood when training. Just wait till tomorrow if you had a bad day at work.

    5. Extend the fetch a few inches at a time until the dog fetches from you hand an arms length away.

    6. Move the dummy down a few inches at a time until the dog fetches from the floor.

    7. Move your hand from the dummy. Go from holding the dummy on the floor to touching the dummy on the floor to pointing ant the dummy from a few inches away to moving your hand farther and farther from the dummy.

    8. Start sending the dog from your side. First the dummy is 12 inches from the dog and then slowly move it out. Put a leash or check cord on the dog here so you can pull him in and place him by your side.

    9. Throw the dummy and get recall with the cord.

    10. No cord, add e-collar if desired.

    11. Guns, birds, blinds, multiple retrieves, drags, etc. always back up as many steps as needed if your dog has an issue. When you introduce a new object such as a bird, start from hold and run through the steps.

    After each short session smile and remind your pup how great he is.


    PS. Each dog creates different challenges. You can pm me with questions if you like and I can give you advice or suggest some good books and videos.

    -Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    A couple issues I still want to improve on are... Always bringing bird back ALL the way to me. And getting her to stay put AFTER a shot until I release her.
    Concerning bringing the bird all the way back to hand.... When this would start to happen when training with the dummy, what I learned and has always worked for me, was as soon as it looks like the dog is starting to slow down as it gets to you and acting like it is about to drop it, I would crouch down a little (closer eye and hand level), extend my hand, and while backpedaling quickly saying "good girl...come, come, come" the whole time. For some reason, when the dog sees you starting to move away quickly it makes them want to run towards you. As they do, and when close enough, then take the dummy from their mouth saying "Ok" and when that works of course praise the dog. I taught my dog "ok" concerning a number of things, but you can use whatever term you like of course. I also did this when the dog would want to stop and shake when leaving the water before bringing the bird in all the way. It worked. Then I just expanded on the whole thing by teaching the dog to come around and "heal up" while still holding the bird until I reached down and took it from her. The great thing about teaching your dog to heal up and hold the bird, especially ducks, no matter how long it takes, is that if more birds are coming in you don't have to worry about grabbing the bird and you can keep focused on what the new birds are doing. Another thing about bringing a bird to hand, rather than spitting it out on the ground is, what if it's a cripple....is it gonna run off or fly away when the dog drops it? Imo, a dog patiently sitting at your side holding a bird is a class act.

    Staying steady on shot.... Probably one of the best things to do, depending on how bad your dog is, is to have it on a short lead, a long leash, or a little longer rope. When you shoot and the dog takes off, just as the dog gets to the end of the leash/rope yell "STAY"!!! and give it a heck of a yank. If your dog is smart it won't like getting upended for very long and should learn to stay in pretty short order. I never used a shock collar either, but I'm sure that would work well when the dog starts to break after the shot....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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