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Thread: Lab and desire to hunt/fetch

  1. #1

    Default Lab and desire to hunt/fetch

    I have a 10 month old lab and took her duck hunting for the first time today. I shot a duck and she didn't see it fall so I didn't expect her to fetch it. I sent her after the bird and she wasn't trying to hard to find it. I finally walked over and pointed at the bird and she sniffed it a few times and looked at me, she had no interest in the bird. I threw it a few times, but she wouldn't fetch it. She would sniff it and walk away. I tried throwing a rubber bumper a few times and she wouldn't fetch that. Usually she does a great job fetching the bumper either on grass or in the water. Tried throwing a stick and no dice. Was odd. Had the same thing happen 2 months ago ptarmigan hunting. Seems like she has no desire to fetch a bird. What was really strange was after she had the experience with the bird she wouldn't fetch at all. I'll admit I haven't done any training with bird wings/feathers and this might be part of it. Is it possible that she doesn't have the drive to hunt and retrieve? When we got home I threw the bumper down the driveway and she retrieved it fine. Any advice on how to get the dog fetching birds? The breeder I bought the dog from admitted her dogs weren't the best hunting dogs, but they are great companions. I didn't plan to use the dog for hunting when I bought her, but thought I'd give it a try. This dog is an awesome pet, super smart, and a great all around dog. I'm 100% happy with this dog in all other aspects. What I'm left wondering is should I devote more time to training this dog or should I start thinking about a puppy from a breeder that focus on great hunting genetics.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    You said you wern't intending to hunt with your dog, now you are considering getting a hunting dog. What happenedA?? Baron from Wetland retrievers would be best to go to for some help and training assistance. He will give you some free help or set you up with a full time training program, or somewhere inbetween. Sounds to me like you have a dog without a lot of drive or natural instinct, however he should have some. You can do a little training and prepair for next season, its a bit late to expect results for this fall. Force fetch would get you and your dog over the majority of problems you are having, it would be worth paying a trainer to do a thourgh job on, makes all the difference in the world in training your dog. Then you can work on simple retrieves and the dog will bring the bird or bumper back to you reliably. We are going to shoot some pen raised ducks at reflection lake tomorrow, if you want to bring out your dog pm me with phone number. Can't guarentee we will have enough birds for everybody, but a fresh killed one would be a good place to start also. Bud

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    Default Think twice about that

    He says he has had 2 problems w/ birds in the field, and you suggest he come out to try it again? Not sure how you think it will be different, or why. Regardless of the issue, that seems like putting the dog to a test, not teaching it. Now if you are offering that he take a bird home, and try it in his yard, then ok. I am more on board there.
    Western, there is way too much we don't know about the dog. Does she like to play? Is retrieving, or was retrieving, in the yard fun? Was she enthusiastic? Spastic? Wild? Crazy? Or just kind of ho hum, just doing it for dad? I know you say she did a great job on bumpers, but describe what that means?
    How much do you tease her? Play? Make retrieving fun? Did you just pick the bird up and throw it? Or did you make a game of it?
    We don't know enough to give you any real advice. But I would be hesitant to take a dog, that does not have a lot of drive, that has not had lots of retrieves, that doesn't like birds, out to a place with lots of people, dogs, distractions, and stinky birds.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default Professional training

    A learned from a professional trainer that alot of people think that what we think of a bird dog is not fully true. While we use certain breeds for bird hunting, it is not natural for them to fetch a bird. Even if you have a dog that has fetched birds before, one of the necessary evils in training if "force fetching" while it is unpleasent for you as well as the dog it will ensure that no problems ever arise later and thus less stess on you and the dog later in the hunting life of the dog.

  5. #5

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    Things might be looking up. I cut the wings off the mallard yesterday for future training. I spent about 15 minutes in the backyard this morning with the dog. I threw the bumper a few times and she fetched it great. I then threw a wing out there. She ran out there sniffed it for a few seconds and then brought it back to me. I threw the wing about 10 more times and everytime she ran out there, picked it up, and brought it back with no hesitation. She would hold it in her mouth until I said drop. The last time I threw it up on the hill where she couldn't see it land. She hunted around in the bushes for a few seconds, found it and brought it back. I'm wondering if part of the problem in the field is that she is used to fetching in the yard and might not be able to focus out in the open. I think I need to get her out in field for more training.

    The dog is an enthusiastic fetcher in the yard for about 10 to 15 minutes. When she gets tired of fetching she will let you know it. I try to stop before she does. To be honest maybe I've been stopping to early. Her previous stopping was when she was about 6 to 7 months old.

    When we bought the dog we were looking for a family pet. I've always liked labs and decided we should get one. We chose this dog for temperment, conformance, etc. Now about a year after deciding to get this dog I've grown more of an interest in bird hunting. I've always liked wing shooting. I also like to wake up early, hunt for 1/2 a day and get home by dinner as opposed to the fly in for a week of big game hunting. I like big game hunting, but can't do it every weekend where grouse and ducks you can. Hence my interest in duck hunting a year after choosing this dog.

    akblackdawg - thanks for the offer, but I'm tied up with kids activities today. Where do you get pen raised birds? I'm wondering if getting a duck for the dog to chase around a little will get her more excited.

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    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    I would HIGHLY suggest finding a book or DVD training program and following it. It sounds like since you and your dog are new to this and you don't have time to send it to a trainer, but you do have time to train at your house, a program would be a good idea. If it's a lab, somewhere in it's genetics it's going to want to retrieve. It's your job to harness that desire and use it to train a hunting dog. There is plenty of information out there for you to use. Google Evan Graham, Mike Lardy, Butch Goodwin, Richard Wolters, etc. You'll find that having a program that tells you what to do as well as how to address problems will help you tremendously. If you're around Anchorage, shoot me a pm and I'll see what I can do to help.

  7. #7
    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    western, another thing to keep in mind is that the alaska working retirever club and retriever club of alaska combine and put on a weekly training class starting usually in feb that goes through april. all you have to do is join the club and it is free, joining is cheap. loads of information on training from basics for new pup to very advanced. my thoughts were to use the live duck to build enthusium in your pup. pigions would work almost as well, and easy to clip flight feathers on their wings with sissors. we get our birds off craigs list. like river rat says, do not try and set up a test situation for your dog until he is retrieving consistantly both bumpers and birds. bud

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    I had the same problem with my dog when she was young. I fixed the problem by putting up the bumpers and using birds a wings. I dont have a problem anymore. I also force fetched her. I suggest making sure one of those wings are on everything you have her fetch if you want her to get birds for you. I have gone away from using only plastic bumpers. If I expect my dog to retrieve ducks and birds then in training it makes sence that she fetches ducks and birds. Hope this helps.
    "A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine." Marley and Me

  9. #9

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    Looks like I better figure out what force fetching is.

    Thanks for all the input.

  10. #10
    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    Probably a good idea. You should definitely look into a program. Most of them have different parts from basics all the way through advanced training, also including force fetch.

  11. #11

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    Not a uncommon response.
    Simply put........this is different....way different from the normal routine that your dog has been exposed to.
    Look at it this way.....you can't send your 4 yr old child to the garage to get a basketball unless they know what one is.
    It's all a matter of routine. Exposing your dog to all the sounds, scents, varying birds that you will be hunting before season. Even get them use to finding these birds in the cover you will be hunting.

    Force fetch does fix a lot of mouth issues and gets the point across that retrieving is now a reinforced command. It will also get the message across that this is a team sport to your dog.
    BUT......force fetch is not a way of introducing birds to your dog. So resort back to your puppy days and make these birds something wonderful. Once your dog is introduced then FF is an option.

    Baron

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    Western,

    I'll simply add to this how you shouldn't be play fetching until your dog tires of the game. Make it all gret fun, all the time. Get the pup fired up over that which you want pup to fetch. Have pup fetch said item, whether bumper or bird, only about three (3) times each session and then hide the bumper/bird.

    Best of luck to both of you.

    Jim

  13. #13
    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Western,

    I'll simply add to this how you shouldn't be play fetching until your dog tires of the game. Make it all gret fun, all the time. Get the pup fired up over that which you want pup to fetch. Have pup fetch said item, whether bumper or bird, only about three (3) times each session and then hide the bumper/bird.

    Best of luck to both of you.

    Jim

    Exactly. With your pup being 10 months already, you could do a little more than 3, but definitely quit while pup is still high energy and excited. This will create the desire you're talking about lacking. If you throw bumpers until the pup is tired and then keep going, it's making it more of a job for your pup. If you quit while it's still exciting and interesting, it's more of a game. Eventually the sight of a bumper/bird will make your pup excited.

    I think the best idea is to start some type of program, as I mentioned earlier. There are plenty of books and DVD's out there. Check out www.gundogsupply.com. If you're willing to put in the time and you have the information readily available, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to turn your dog into a decent gun dog.

  14. #14
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
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    Ditto what others have said - get with someone or pick up a retriever training book & start from the beginning. Evan Graham's "Smartwork for Retrievers" vol. 1 (avail. http://www.rushcreekpress.com) or John & Amy Dahl's "The 10-Minute Retriever" (avail. from Amazon) are affordable & step-by-step.

    There's a LOT that goes on before a dog is force fetched. Don't skip the steps & training/teaching that go on before that. Heck, she might not need to be force fetched, but rather learn how to retrieve & take commands. No one should expect a retriever to retrieve birds with no training/exposure to them. Just because the dog is a retriever breed, doesn't mean they will retrieve. Take advantage of offers to help you too, or local retriever clubs' training classes come "spring".

    Good luck!

    Karen

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    Chris Akin from Avery Sport Dog has a dvd out called gun dog basics. It is a very simple step by step process on how to train a gun dog. It is geared more towards the average guy who is training a dog in his back yard. The dvd goes through things like socializing your dog, play retrieving, gun breaking, introduction to water, force fetch, steadying, hunting from a blind, singles and double retrieves, ect. I would highly recommend this one.
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    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    Western,

    Are you in Anchorage?

  17. #17

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    I'm in Eagle River

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