Training Dog Question
Hey guys I'm training my first duck hunting dog he's a 12 week old yellow lab and everything is going great but he just doesn't really like to fetch that much...just recently he'll fetch a toy stuffed duck but won't have anything to do with bumpers??? Is this something I should be concerned about? If so, what should I do?
Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Try taping some feathers to your bumper. I had the same problem with my golden, which I am trying to train as a bird dog. She is 11 weeks, and after I taped some random seagull feathers from the beach to the dummy, it became her favorite toy.
Nothing to worry about. Bumpers are not a natural thing for them to pick up. He wiill eventually, once he loves retrieving more, he will be bonkers over bumpers. Some pups have a hard time fitting the bumper in and it can be sensitive to their baby teeth so You can start with easy stuff ( a ball, kong toy, stuffed sock something that gives a little movement and creates excitement about retreiving etc) in a hallway inside the house then outside and eventually move to bumpers...dont rush the bumpers, if you make bumpers a bad thing now you could be setting your self up for trouble later...the feathers will also help when you get him doing well. I have some frozen birds (chukar) if you live in the Valley area and would be willing to give you some. Send me a PM if you want a bird. You can use the wings and a bird itself. Dont spend long periods of time at any one session, as puppies tend to lose interest quickly.
Dont worry he will learn in time...be patient
Last edited by Burke; 08-14-2007 at 21:12.
thanks man...I sent you a PM
I have a golden that is nuts about water and is a retrieving fool. He never failed to bring me a pheasant or chukar I'd shot. He'd play fetch until he dropped if I let him. I took him for a field test and it was his first experience with ducks. Do you think he'd put that oily, stinky thing in his mouth? No way. I couldn't believe it. I called the breeder for some advice and he said that I needed to make sure to get him some ducks or duck wings as they are a lot different than upland game birds. Some dogs are put off by their oiliness. Last year I got some duck wings and at first he was very reluctant to pick them up. Now he'll steal one if I'm working with my other Golden and he'll throw it in the air and snatch it on the way down. If I don't catch him right away he'll eventually sneak off and eat it. Under supervision he he knows the rules, sit, mark, wait till released, retrieve, sit and put it in my hand. We'll see how he does this fall during duck and goose season.
My point is to make sure that you are getting your pup real feathers from a variety of species so they will be comfortable with everything from ducks to ptarmigan. Just keep the training sessions short, fun, and frequent.
Not to worry. Take your time.
Plush toys are great for now but take them away as soon as they start teething. Then give them things you don't mind getting chewed on. Let them focus that energy on those items instead of your shoes or sofa. The bumpers are too hard and they will have to really bare down to pick them up. You don't want to encourage hard mouthing habits. Use items that your pup can pick up easily. You can use a canvas or cloth puppy bumper. Most of the sporting stores carry them.(Sportsman) Never scold a pup for carrying around an item in his/her mouth either. Just simply remove what they are not suppose to have then place in what is allowed. Then praise them. Vigilance on our part cures a lot of puppy problems. Simply taking away temptations.
Retrieve games should be kept very short. Like 2 or 3 tosses down the hallway. Use a small rope to pull them to you if they don't return. Lots of Praise works wonders. Make retrieving fun with lots of reward for the dog. Picking up the item and returning it to you is a big item to get right -right now. Also make your pup steady and wait to be sent for every retrieve. Don't teach anything you have to unteach later. If steadiness is taught now it will become just routine.
OK OK I know I'm rambling but here's one more bit of advise. When the pup brings the item back. Don't immediately take it from them. Simply take the rope or collar and hold them there beside you letting them hold it. Praising them of course. Some pups will drop it out on their own if not after about a minute slowly and gently coax it from them. Doing this prevents them from seeing you as an adversary. A litter mate that is going to steal his prize. In which then the chase game begins or prey possessiveness.
There is so much more to talk about. Let me know if I can help.
Choose good times to train
Pay attention to sleep, eat, play cycles. No sense trying to play when they are sleepy or hungry. Tease him with a toy, ball, stuffed sock, whatever. The only things I NEVER throw for my labs are sticks and stones. Otherwise if they want to carry it, I will pretty much throw it. Including, if she is not looking, my wifes shoes.
A few rules I always go by and try to teach.
1- Keep it SHORT! Short training sessions to build and keep eagerness. Short throws to keep the interest. Short grass/cover so they use their eyes, not their nose. (they will always figure out the nose)
2- KISS! Simplify, simplify, simplify. Single concepts built from the ground up. That pup only knows what you teach it.
3- NEVER EVER give a command you are not willing or able to enforce. 20 below, snow on the ground, in your pjs and no slippers. Do not say come if you are not willing to go out and get that pup.
4- Be consistent. SIT is always SIT. COME is always COME. Commands are never questions, you never give them twice without a correction.
5- Last one for now. TEACH, TRAIN, TEST. In that order. Build the basics slowly, deliberately, carefully. Teaching takes longer than training, and testing is only done after both the teaching and training are finished. If in doubt, and you should have doubts, do not test. Failures set you back a long way, and repeated failures to perform teach the dog they can do what they want to do.
I am writing this as my 9 year old gray beard male is laying at my feet. He is potentially the last of a line of retrievers that I have had since 1978. I love him as an old man, but I miss the puppy. Good luck, have fun, and don't get too serious.
I really appreciate the tips and I've learned a lot by reading some of the recent posts. As of now he'll fetch his stuffed duck as the day is long but has some reservations about some of the bumpers but I don't see that being a big deal as of now. He has brought a lot of laughs and good times to my family and I really enjoy training him. Any more tips would be greatly appreciated.
keep it up
Good on you to realize what leads to success. If you can, mix it up with a soft ball, like a tennis ball. Something that rolls or bounces for him to chase a bit.
Old socks filled with rags and duct taped are cheap and soft and small enough diameter that the pup can easily hold it. Use white so they are easy to see. be careful though as sharp puppy teeth get snagged easily. That is why I add the tape.
I'll have to give that a try. Hey I have a question...
about how often would yall take your pup to the pond to play with him and fetch? Just wondering bc I didn't want to over do him or train him too long.
Thanks again guys,
I started my lab on small soft canvass bumpers. Taping a few feathers cant hurt either.Not much, but hope it helps.
Just a bit more info. I never actually started working fetch training with my dog until she was about 6 months old. The first 6 months with her all I worked with was sit, heel, and come. It got pretty boring but it paid off when I started working with fetching. She was my first dog so I dont really have much to compare her too but it seems to me it was a lot easier to train her on things like blinds and hand signals with the basics crushed. Shes 10 months old now and a great duck dog, I am jumpy for Sept 1st!!
pups and water
I used to take the whole litter to the pond where there was shallow water. What a hoot to have a bunch of pups chasing you through ankle deep water. Your last question is actually 2 separate ones. Water and fetching. I like taking a pup to play in the water at least one time per day. Just play. Wade in first and let the pup follow. You take the straight lines just like you want the pup to do later when he is retrieving. Don't worry about swimming yet. Build confidence. Take your time before using hip boots and going to deeper water. After a while the pup won't even realize that swimming may be an issue.
Save the fetching for the backyard or baseball fields (remember the "SHORT" rules. Don't play in the water, then fetch on shore. When the pup really likes retrieving and is running hard, and has been accustomed to at least shallow water, then go out in the water and throw short throws from there. Don't give the pup a reason or chance to try and "cheat" the waters edge. Yep, you might get wet. Big deal. Take a towel for the both of you.
Most guys start there pups from land to water. It can be done successfully, but I see a lot of fussing around when the pup comes out of the water and drops the dummies to shake.
You know what? I don't know if I like you or not. Now you have me thinking more puppy thoughts than a guy ought to. My old dog would not be very happy to have to share play time right now. Hmm, just where are my whistles anyway?