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Thread: Rescued Lab - retraining to work.

  1. #1
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    Default Rescued Lab - retraining to work.

    Does anyone have successful rehoming and training successes with shelter dogs?
    I not only want to put a feature in AlaskaDogNews.com about it, but also work on my own dogs. I've had several requests for that kind of info.

    Two years ago I decided to try to rescue Labs and train them to work.
    Here is what has happened so far.
    Molly the first rescued Lab retrieved with a little enthusiasm. In fact, her best retrieve for an entire year was when we first met her. After about 3 weeks I started my usual force fetch routine and it failed miserably. She is a sweet dog but not real driven. She obviously had been bred a lot. I tried ramping up the pressure then backing off. Still she shut down and would not retrieve anything. I was advised to give up. But if a bumper was thrown into the water stand back, she was all over it. Over the next year Molly started getting excited to retrieve anything in the house but a bumper. A toy, rubber Kong, glove, but the moment any pressure was placed on the item she quit. Slowly, by rewarding each retrieve with kind words or a treat she showed more interest in retrieving. Now 2 years later, she fetched a bumper outside,from the ground on command. I started throwing her a bumper a few times a week, no more than 4 at a time. Now she was getting manic about her toys, fetching them, bringing them to me. I was able to transfer that enthusiasm to the bumpers. We have had a few sessions of lining to a pile having to correct one retrieve out of 5 ,mixed in with a happy bumper. We will try birds here shortly. She is a good DockDog jumper too.

    Bailey is our newest rescue. I am 95% sure he is full Lab. Possibly some show lines in there with his massive head square head . He was allowed to run loose for the first 2 1/2 years of his life breeding all over the area. He is the kind of dog I like to train. Dominant, forceful, with a soft side and easily corrected. He seems to have no desire to retrieve bumpers, balls or any other item except a plush toy. I have been using that to show him to bring it back to me. I think that retrieving is way down the line for this dog. We have to break the bolting and wandering habits first.

    Most field people would throw these dogs away. I think they can be saved and retrained. Im sure the desire is there, just sleeping.

  2. #2
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda View Post
    Does anyone have successful rehoming and training successes with shelter dogs?
    I not only want to put a feature in AlaskaDogNews.com about it, but also work on my own dogs. I've had several requests for that kind of info.

    Two years ago I decided to try to rescue Labs and train them to work.
    Here is what has happened so far.
    Molly the first rescued Lab retrieved with a little enthusiasm. In fact, her best retrieve for an entire year was when we first met her. After about 3 weeks I started my usual force fetch routine and it failed miserably. She is a sweet dog but not real driven. She obviously had been bred a lot. I tried ramping up the pressure then backing off. Still she shut down and would not retrieve anything. I was advised to give up. But if a bumper was thrown into the water stand back, she was all over it. Over the next year Molly started getting excited to retrieve anything in the house but a bumper. A toy, rubber Kong, glove, but the moment any pressure was placed on the item she quit. Slowly, by rewarding each retrieve with kind words or a treat she showed more interest in retrieving. Now 2 years later, she fetched a bumper outside,from the ground on command. I started throwing her a bumper a few times a week, no more than 4 at a time. Now she was getting manic about her toys, fetching them, bringing them to me. I was able to transfer that enthusiasm to the bumpers. We have had a few sessions of lining to a pile having to correct one retrieve out of 5 ,mixed in with a happy bumper. We will try birds here shortly. She is a good DockDog jumper too.

    Bailey is our newest rescue. I am 95% sure he is full Lab. Possibly some show lines in there with his massive head square head . He was allowed to run loose for the first 2 1/2 years of his life breeding all over the area. He is the kind of dog I like to train. Dominant, forceful, with a soft side and easily corrected. He seems to have no desire to retrieve bumpers, balls or any other item except a plush toy. I have been using that to show him to bring it back to me. I think that retrieving is way down the line for this dog. We have to break the bolting and wandering habits first.

    Most field people would throw these dogs away. I think they can be saved and retrained. Im sure the desire is there, just sleeping.
    I have proven over and over that any dog or cat can be trained to retrieve. By isolation and boredom, they all will retrieve. It takes longer to type it all out than it would in a conversation over the phone. If you would care to talk it over, PM me and we can talk it out, over the phone.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  3. #3
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default investment

    Your a better man than I. I guess that maybe I'm just to busy with my children to really even consider taking on dogs like that.

    I've got one Springer that was a poorly bred dog and he is like the first dog you mentioned. He'll retrieve but as soon as I put the pressure on him it goes from fun to 0 real quick and I can't get him to retieve. I know I could invest the time and positive reinforcement to get him on track but I always find myself focusing on the other dog with real drive.....

    When I'm hunting I get a little rough....not physically abusive or anything. I just loose that soft voice and easy demeanor. I just really want a dog to get a job done in the field and I've seen my poorly bred dog just crumple with even a moderate amount of displeasure. He is really sensitive dog and keeps my little girls and wife super happy. I'll take a head strong dog too for real field work. Its just a tremendous task for me as it is with dogs I've had since pups I can't imagine getting strangers and starting from scratch knowing very little of their background.

    So if your asking its something I wouldn't do and I don't have experience doing it. Too much of an investment of time and $$$$. My life is too short and I take my time in the field real serious to be trying stuff like that. I think you realize that by what you said about "throwing dogs out". So once again.....good on ya! Those dog need guys like you to allow them to perform and search out their instincts.

  4. #4
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    Default Better man............eek

    No one's ever called me that before or maybe it was for the other post but we dont have kids. Maybe since I missed the trials and tribulations with teens and young adults, begging for money, driving parents crazy, making them worry, making the parents want to kill them or at least throw them out I get these canine misfits and try to fix them. Just so I can be frustrated like my girlfriends dealing with their nearly adult kids....

    I trained with many, many amature trainers over the years that went through dogs like socks. They created the wash outs. I've had several well bred dogs and one now that was responding to whistles and retrieving from birth. Not much challenge there. Only guilt when I know she could have been so much more if I had more time and money. These rescued dogs give me so much satifaction with the smallest of accomplishments. I'll always keep a reliable "pick up" dog around though. Someone has to bring home the meat. I'd have lost two bumpers today without her.

  5. #5
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default opps

    Details, Details. Sorry about that. I think your on to something with that rational. You can certainly replace some of the tribulation of child rearing with some pets. I'd venture to say your not alone in that. Include me in that catagory. I'll keep pets as long as I can to stay active in caring for someone or something.

    I'm glad you recovered those bumpers.

  6. #6

    Default Lab Rescue experiences

    Well, as you know. I have lots of experiences. During the five years that my wife, a handful of volunteers and myself ....we successfully adopted out about 400 retrievers of various breeds. We placed them through out the state and even some to the lower 48.
    It was an awesome experience. But believe me, it is a lot of work. When you get them in you don't know what you have. So you have to start working them on regular everyday situations and establish some obedience. Once they have been well rounded in my training program I then would interview potential families. The key to success is to make sure that the dog you adopt out is a match to the new family. For example you wouldn't adopt out a hyper high energy candidate to a family with little kids or an elderly couple.
    As far as breeding: If the pup you rescued doesn't have a high retrieve drive it may be that this dog is not wired for it. A lot of breedings(uneducated breeders) lately aren't considering what they are producing. Breeding dogs that have undesired traits or factors that lead away from the breed standard. So you may wind up with a pup that doesnt retrieve because the prey drive just isn't bred in from one generation to the next.
    But if you do rescue a dog that has been abused......then it is simply a confidence issue. Make the world positive for them instead of negative is the way to go. Socialization is key to everything.
    My personal rescue story:
    As an example: Laying beside me right now is a 4 yr old yellow male. He has a super bred pedigree. The owners payed a thousand dollars for this breeding and when this puppy reached 6 months of age they brought him to me for placement. Saying that he was too much and was destroying the house. Well today, this dog with three more passes will be a AKC Master Hunter and has already been through NAHRA Senior hunter. Also is competing in Qualifying field trials.
    So yes rescued dogs can become great. It just takes the right person. God bless those that can.

    What makes a retriever great?
    Breeding, Training, and Training Consistency

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    Thumbs up Name

    Susan Sampson she works at Aurora Animal Clinic in Fairbanks
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