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Thread: What the hell is wrong with my dog?

  1. #1

    Default What the hell is wrong with my dog?

    LOL - okay, so maybe that is a little extreme, but I wanted people to respond.

    I have a 12 week old Chessie pup. She is absolutely brilliant in everything. She is already near 100% response on sit, down, come, and heel, and will stay for as long as I tell her to. She picks things up very quickly and is very obedient. She was housebroken in under a week. I am impressed with all of this BUT I have one MAJOR concern: she doesn't seem to like retrieving very much!

    Of all the ridiculous things, I can't figure it out. I can throw a small dummy in the house and she will go pounce on it and bring it back fine, but she loses interest after 3-5 throws and when I try it outside, I get the same thing at best. Today she went to the dummy twice, barely played with it, and left it. After that, she didn't even care to go get it. She ran back to the ATV like she was ready to go. Everything I have read says retrievers will normally retrieve all day if you let them, but to limit the throws to 3-5. She seems to not care at all. Needless to say, I am quite concerned about having a retriever that isn't crazy about retrieving!

    The only thing I know to change is her playing with our other dog. He is a 1 year old Yorkie and they are about the same size (yes, he is huge for a yorkie) and they love to wrestle and play. For the time being, I am putting her in her crate instead of letting her run loose in the house with him and making her free play time all about retrieving. I am hoping that her eagerness to play will translate into eagerness to play with dummies and retrieve. Is this the right move? Any suggestions on how to fix this? Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Nothing is wrong, some dogs take time to like to play fetch. My 7 month old lab didn't like fetch tell she was 5 months old. Now she won't quit and loves it. I wouldn't worry much about it. Some dogs just take time. Just keep playing with her.

  3. #3

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    Well that is good to hear. Do you think I should limit her play time as I said or should I just keep letting her run free with the other dog?

  4. #4

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    The only time I keep my dog away from the other one is during the day when I'm at work. Other than that, I keep them together expect for when I'm working with her and then it's just her and I. I don't think playing with the other dog is a real distraction, but that's my oppion. I think keeping dogs together isn't a problem, but I'm not an expert either. I just know that my dog is first a member of the family and second a hunting companion.

  5. #5
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    This may seem kind of dumb but take a pair of your dirty socks and let her play with them then use them for a retreving toy. I had my chessy sent up from CA. But before they shipped her I sent them a toy Moose that had my scent on it. Right out of the kennel she came running to me. The second day that I had her we where in Valdez getting ready to go to bed and I took my socks off and threw them over by my boots. She was watching me all the way and the next thing I new she brought my socks back to me. Mine will retrieve any thing that I throw or drop. So try the sock thing it might just work. Make it a game and she should play along.

  6. #6

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    Coo.l. Thanks, Cap. I'll give it a try.

  7. #7

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    Take things slow, when she loses interest, change the game or stop completely.
    Puppies have short attention spans, she will come around!

  8. #8
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
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    If what you've read says pups will "normally retrieve all day if you let them", then what you're reading is wrong (sorry to be blunt, but that's hogwash!). There are reasons for limiting the retrieves to a max. of 3 per session -- pup doesn't tend to lose interest, end on a successful note, and she's a puppy not a machine. Are you bringing her out to retrieve fresh, or after playing with the other dog? Try putting her in her crate for a half hour or so (if she takes a nap, wait 'til she wakes up), bring her out, let her air (pee/poop), on a leash have her sit/here/heel on command (only for a few minutes), then do a few retrieves, and end the session. Short, simple & successful -- Jackie Mertens' "3 S's". Sometimes it takes awhile for the drive to retrieve to kick in, sometimes using a sock, paint roller, smaller/lighter bumper, or something that's easier for her to pick up will help. Do you have anyone there to help you? Or any books or DVDs on retriever puppy training? It's all baby steps & she'll get there!

    Hang in there too!

    Karen

  9. #9
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
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    A few good books that won't break the bank:

    "Retriever Puppy Training : The Right Start For Hunting" by Cherylon Loveland & Clarice Rutherfood - http://www.gundogsupply.com/bkk-0523.html Excellent, covers the basics and inexpensive

    "The 10-Minute Retriever : How To Make A Well-Mannered, Obedient, Enthusiastic Gun Dog in 10 Minutes A Day" by John & Amy Dahl - you can find it at Amazon.com

    Evan Graham's "Puppy Program" DVD I haven't seen, but a lot of people like it. His "Smartwork For Retrievers", vol. 1 covers basic training, step-by-step. His books/DVDs are available at http://rushcreekpress.com/allproducts.html

    "Sound Beginning" by Jackie Mertens (DVD) - available at http://www.puppyvideo.com/ & other gundog supply places

  10. #10

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    Thanks, Karen. I have been working from 2 books: The Ten Minute Retriever and Water Dog - taking from both of them, as they are pretty close in what they say with a few different ideas on how to do things. I tend to take the Ten Minute Retriever approach first, if they differ, and then go a little sterner like Water Dog suggests if the first one doesn't work. So far, it is going very well.

    I actually did what you suggested this morning - I left her in her crate longer and did not let her play with the other dog. I let her eat, took her out to pee/poop, and then we started some whistle training on sit and come, as well as worked on heel. She is exceptional at these - she stays at perfect heel off leash after only one 10 minute session on leash a few days ago. I still go back to the leash occasionally, but she really doesn't need it. She knows come and sit and stay and is starting to associate the whistle commands pretty well. But she still wasn't interested in retrieving. I worked with her on heel for about 2-3 minutes and then threw some bumpers and she just went back to the ATV like she wanted to go. Really weird. It is like she is scared to get them out where we are working. I took her around a hill onto the frozen river where she couldn't see the ATV and let her romp a little and then threw another time - twice she sprinted and pounced on it, then looked up as if distracted and left it there. The third throw she was not interested. Then we came home, I let her play a while, then threw one in the kitchen and she retrieved with no problem. She is quite good at it here, but not outside. I don't know if it is the snow or what. Just strange. My only thought is that she will do as commanded outside, but when it is fun time, she would rather be indoors. I really don't know. I just hope she starts to come around.

  11. #11
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
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    Oh, but not really so strange! Puppies/dogs are place oriented -- may do everything perfectly in one place, but seem to go brain dead in other places. And puppies go through a variety of phases or stages. Each one seems to be a little different too. Some pups are unphased by snow or mud getting on bumpers/birds/wings, but others seem to take their time getting used to picking things up outside of the house. It'll come & there's nothing wrong with your pup. She's just being a pup & gotta be patient. Also, sometimes without realizing it, we change our body language or tone of voice when things aren't going as well as expected.

    Heck, the dog in my avatar went through this "Retrieve, you want me to retrieve? Not on your life" phase at 3 1/2 to 4 months. What to do? Panic, or call the breeder, or go OMG she's a dud? No -- we didn't even try any retrieves for about a week & didn't worry about it. Instead we went for walks, exploring "expeditions" around the property, worked on obedience 5-10 min. a day, and didn't sweat it. It was more a matter of disciplining myself not to throw marks.

    Hang in there!

    Karen

  12. #12

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    Well again, that is good to hear. I guess I just assumed that is all they ever want to do if given the chance, but I will just keep steady and I am sure she will loosen up. Thanks!

  13. #13
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    As others have said: There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with your pup. You've received some good advice already and from your description I'd say you've got the makings of a great little Chessie.

    The important thing for you to do right now is keep working with her on the basic obedience commands, socialization, and getting her as many good experiences in as many different circumstances as you can. It sounds like she's a very smart pup in terms of how quickly she's picking things up and exceptional, indeed, in terms of healing off leash. Keep giving her short, sweet opportunities to retrieve successfully and stop when she's still interested, not after she loses interest. If she'll happily retrieve once. Do that till you're sure that she's still interested in a second, then stop. If she'll do two do that until you're sure she just can't wait to get a third. When she'll do three... But don't worry if she's not interested every time you try and in every circumstance. She'll likely sometimes be distracted and sometimes overwhelmed by new sights, sounds, smells. But she'll pick it all up.

    DO NOT despair if she doesn't seem to have the interest in retrieving you think she should have. Their personalities are as individual as ours are and they develop interests in things at different rates. My first Chessie was exceptional (in all kinds of ways, some good and one not so good). He was the archetypical Chessie pup that everyone wants in almost every way. From the exact moment he got out of my truck at home he would retrieve anything he could pick up (including returning to hand with no wandering or playing catch-me-if-you-can) for as long as as I wanted to throw something. I had no idea how exceptional he was. His one fault (which was partially MY fault since I didn't socialize him adequately) was in also being the archetypical Chessie everyone hears about who was a puppy with every one in HIS family (including other dogs) but absolutely terrified strangers who happened to walk into our yard or knock on the door or walk by the truck if he was in it and he meant business. A puppy with HIS family till the day he died but not with anyone outside the family.

    That was 30 years and many Chessies ago and none of the others has responded that way as puppies. My current male started out just as you describe your pup. He seemed to have little interest in retrieving but he certainly developed all the "want to" that anyone could ever ask for. He would retrieve live birds to heel by about 5 months and by well less than 1 year he would attempt to retrieve ANYTHING. He now LIVES to retrieve and when excited simply MUST have something in his mouth (he pulls a pillow off the couch and just HAS to carry it around every time my wife walks in the door.)

    I think you've got an exceptionally smart and trainable pup and that she'll become an amazing retrieving demon well before she reaches 6 months. Just make sure it's always fun. After many years I've found the hardest part of training any dog is making sure I know what I am supposed to be doing and that I do MY part the right way.

    My suggestion is to buy (or rent or borrow) as many DVDs as you can and watch them several times. Dog training is like many activities in being easier to learn by watching - it's much easier to know what should be done and how it should be done when you can see it done right. It also gives you a better frame of reference on what your dog is doing if you see the actions/responses of other dogs. There are a number of good ones out there and if you're interested PM and I'll let you know the ones I've got and could loan you.

    If you can find experienced training partners (who use positive approaches) to work with, you'll not only have help throwing bumpers, etc. but you'll get to watch how they train and how other dogs learn.

    Congrats on what sounds like a great pup.

  14. #14

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    Thanks Chessie. Like I said in my initial post, I knew putting this heading would get some responses, although I didn't really think anything was actually "wrong" - I just wanted to know if this was normal and if others had advice. It seems she is doing just fine.

    I took her out a second time today and I think she was kind of tired because she hadn't napped much today - well I know she was because as soon as we got home, she snoozed hard for 20-30 minutes. We worked on heel for about 3 minutes and I could tell she was ready to go home. I had her sit and stay right where we were - a good 300 yards from the ATV, and she stayed until I got back to the ATV and blew the whistle to come. That was it for the second session, but I felt it was good that she did that little bit even though she wasn't really eager, not to mention staying for several minutes and running straight to me over a long distance. Plus, it was the first time I have taken her away from home twice in a day to work, so we will build up to doing more.

    I PM'd you about the videos. Thanks.

  15. #15

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    Try this: Works well for pups that haven't matured into retrieving.
    Seperate your obedience drills from your marking lessons(retrieving). With a pup that isn't fired up yet on retrieving why would you demand a lot of obedience. During these obedience drills we are teaching them to sit, lay down, walk at heel and other commands that basically mean "Don't move". So at the end of these lessons (in the typical training frame of mind) we want to end with some retrieving. Well by now, pup could be confused into what you are asking. Earlier you didn't want me to move .... now you do ?
    This is a prime example of a training situation that doesn't fit the typical training mold. So therefore you have to think outside the box and figure out a different game plan.
    Pups with a strong retrieve drive. Yes, I would do obedience first then end with some simple retrieving. These high drive dogs need to learn some self control from the beginning.
    But pups that need some coaxing or haven't matured into retrieving.. I want them fired up !! No holds barred !!..just keep them moving and rolling on what ever they can give me. My retrieving would be done in a small fenced enclosure or on a light weight long line. I wouldn't relate any retrieving with formal obedience at this time.

  16. #16

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    Thanks, Baron. That is what I will do. She seems fine doing it that way, now that you say that. When we do it at home, she is all for it, but only at the times I am not demanding anything of her.

  17. #17
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    What Baron says makes so much sense especially for a young pup who wait until you walk back 300 yards. I don't do that with adult dogs. Personally I give that exercise up for a while. It's a cool trick later but too much distraction can happen in that amount of time. One thing that gets even my non-retriever dogs wanting to retrieve is competition with another dog. It's play and if you don't have another dog you have to become one. Our rescued 1 yr old Griffon had no clue about retrieving but once I started acting like I was going to take something away he wanted it more, then when he was really fired up over getting the bumper, wing, ball I started requiring him to bring it to me. We just moved from a long line to e-collar on vibrate, I let him parade around a little, chase me a little, since I saw making him sit immediatly was killing his enthusiasm. It's a prey chase desire. You want them to love to chase it and when they bring it back they get to chase it again.

  18. #18

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    Linda - good idea - our Yorkie is always chomping at the bit to retrieve, but I won't let him while I am working with her. I will have to try that out.

    As for the 300 yards, she is really amazing at staying for such a young pup. I doubt I will ever need her to stay so far away, but I try to mix up the distances, lengths of time, and how much she can see me when I do it. She does pretty well on everything, but tends to stop a few times to listen when she can't see me, which is normal. She did it again today around 250 yards and half way in I decided to try my first sit in the middle of a come, so I blew a quick blast on the whistle and she stopped and sat. I was really expecting her to just keep coming, so needless to say, I was impressed.

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    AKexploer, if you have a 12 week old pup that is sitting on the whistle at that distance, she is doing great. I now many 2 and 3 year old dogs that won't even do that. I have not even tried my 1 year old on the yet. Don't worry about the pup not getting very excited about retrieving yet, it will come. Just make things fun. One day the light will just turn and you will have a dog that wll not want to stop retrieving. Just have fun and it will come.

  20. #20

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    With permission from the owner ... here is one of my client's experience with his BLF.

    At five months of age his dog did the same thing. Would run out to it but just sniff at it or maybe pick it up or maybe not. He was dissappointed as well. He thought to himself "I must have the only retriever that doesn't retrieve". Being he is a duck hunter it really bothered him. Her pedigree too had a lot of hunt test titled dogs in it.
    So we worked with her for awhile trying different things. But what finally worked. I put her on a long line and brought her inside my bird pen. At first she was nervous but she gradually overcome that and her prey drive started to kick in. I didnt say a thing to her .. I would let her figure it out on her own and eventually she ran out after the birds. I would pull her away just as she started to put her mouth on one. Not saying a thing .... then line her up and push her out for another run. On about the fifth time she had wrestled a full grown mallard to the ground and had it in her mouth quicker than I could pull her away. She still had it in her mouth when I pulled her to me. I then made a big "Atta Girl" about the whole thing.
    After that she was hooked on retrieving. She now is 25 months old. Last year she ran Senior and this year she will be running Masters.

    So all you need to do is find what trips that prey drive into gear. For young pups I have even used a bird wing tied onto a fishing pole. Just dancing it across the floor in front of them.

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