Should I let my retriever walk around with birds?
First of all, I guess I should introduce myself -
I've been hanging out in the flyfishing forms quite a bit, but have glanced over this way a couple times. So this is my first post here, and this is Baxter (he's the four legged one).
He's incredibly intelligent, affectionate, mellow, and eager to please, and LOVES his birds and retrieving. He's a family member first (a spoiled one at that), and a bird dog second.
My question is, around the house we practice retrieving with wings. When we are done with our session, he likes nothing more than to walk around the house with that wing in his mouth (same thing outside with dead birds) - He doesn't chew on it or damage it in any way, just likes to have it in his mouth.
My question is, should I let him do that? He shows very little possessiveness and will drop it on command without hesitation, but I don't want to encourage any bad behavior by making him think the wing/bird is his... What do you guys think/do?
Thanks for any input!
IMHO, and to my way of thinking, it's not something I would encourage a pup to do. Simply put (it's late, and I'm dead tired) any bird that pup gets into his mouth actually belongs to me. But I'm a strong poponent of letting pup hang on to my bird longer than some trainers. But pup only gets to hang on to the bird while at my side. I don't allow pup to carry the bird all around the training area. He must come to me with the bird, and I will pet him, praise him, and allow him to retain possession for a while during the early days of training while at my side, but he doesn't get to routinely walk about with my bird.
I agree with Jim, I have to watch that I don't get into a predictable pattern of sit, hold, drop as I've been training conditioned retrieve without force. I noticed he was timing me, going slack on his hold before I could get my hand on it, so I slowed down. By waiting I actually got him to turn his head toward me as if "take it" so we could do it again.
We just moved back to bumpers after a week in the garage fetching and holding dowels and other objects. He retrieved flawlessly to heel, sat, held, and dropped on command about 10 times. His reward was to hold it and walk it in the house. Your dog is probably just playing with you without playing real keep away. That's what you want to avoid and you do want a prompt return but not instantly jerking it away from him either.
The bird/bumper is yours. I would bet that someday, sometime he will chew the bumper and crunch the bird if you don't claim it soon enough.
I would not let him walk around w/ birds either. If that is important to you, I'd suggest taking the bird or wing after the last retreive and giving him something that can be his. Often the dogs like to retain an item because they are possessive, even if it does not seem like it. Watch his body posture, gate, head, neck closely and see what that tells you.
When I am working with the dog, it is work (fun, but still work). When we play, the rules mostly go away. I don't mix the two. I used to never play tug of war or keep away, but do now. Again, never w/ bumpers or birds or during training sessions. We have specific toys for that. Or if she takes my hat off my head she gets to show it off.
Great photo, but guaranteed atleast one of those 2 is going to be a handful! Have fun w/ both.
Thanks for the input everyone. I appreciate it!
First I would say "Never let your guard down" With a bird in a dogs mouth..... your training lesson is not over.
Next ... I would say it depends on the level of obedience. Does the dog understand the rules. Can I (through proper training) guarantee that the dog will stay close by and deliver the bird when asked. Personally I wouldn't set myself up for failure or place the dog in a positon where it has the upper hand. But if I feel the dogs training is sufficient and if I had a way of reinforcing a trained response to deliver the bird when asked. Then I wouldn't have a problem with it. Though ....again, I personally wouldn't do this on a continual basis.
Thanks for your input Baron.
I've been meaning to come out and take a look at your facility as I may have Baxter boarded for a week while I'm out of town this July.
I may take him with me - the relatives all love him - but I think I'd also like to have him experience some time without me around in case I ever have to board him for longer.
July is a ways off so there is plenty of time. Just give us a call when you are ready to visit. Look forward to meeting you.
Will do, and same to you!
Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers