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Thread: Proper use of birds

  1. #1

    Default Proper use of birds

    I have a 6 month old Chessie who is doing pretty well. She retrieves bumpers on command and is starting to get in the water a little. Still hasn't quite gotten comfortable swimming, but she will retrieve as long as it is shallow enough to walk in at this point.

    I picked up an extra duck that a friend had frozen and I want to know the best way to use it with her. She really loves grouse wings and the occasional chicken feather she finds in the yard, and she was very interested for the few minutes i threw it around for her today, so I am sure she will love the bird. My biggest concern is the size. It is too big for her to fit in her mouth, but she can pick it up by a wing. Should I let her do that or maybe do some modifications to make it smaller (like taking out the meat and bones?) so she can fit it in her mouth.

    She is only about 45 pounds right now and still has a LOT of puppy in her. Everything outside is open for exploration, so while she retrieves well, it isn't like THE THING she lives for yet - she seems much more interested in the various poop droppings she can find in the woods. I am hoping as she grows up that retrieving will be her passion and the poo will not be of interest.

    Also, is that about the right size for a 6 month old Chessie? This is my first one so I don't know. Photo below. Thanks for any advice.


  2. #2
    Member lynch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    A six month old Chessie should be able to handle a duck in her mouth. Maybe get some larger bumpers/dummies to use for a while to get her use to having a bigger object in her mouth before introducing her to the duck. If she still has problems maybe wait a little while longer thou. I would not take any of the flesh out of the duck to make it smaller. This will open the body of the bird up and allow the pup to taste the birds flesh and might cause pup to want to start eating birds. Birds will normally invigorate a pups desire to retrieve. There are a few Chessie owners on her that might come in with some other/better ideas as well.
    "Bark,bark,bark,sniff,sniff,bark,and bark" - Lynchs Blue Roan Lynch E.C.K.

  3. #3
    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Eagle River Alaska, United States,


    When my pup was too small for full size birds I took just the wings and attached them to dummies. I was told to do that to get the dog use to feathers and to add scent to the dummies. Seems like it worked for us. Good luck.

  4. #4


    call rosen kennels in the valley,,,,,chessie trainer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009


    Cute pup! Best of luck to both of you.


  6. #6


    AKExplorer, great pic, glad things are coming along for you two this spring!
    I wouldn't be concerned about how she is carrying the duck yet, she will probably figure it out sooner or later that it's easier to control an injured duck by grabbing the body. She just needs to get on some live(ish) birds.
    I also would not worry about weight, if she is healthy. Dog size varies a lot even within breeds, she could just be a small chessie
    I would be concened that she doesn't love water. Love of water is something I always teach dogs early, it just makes things easier. Make sure you wear tall rubber boots and don't avoid water. If she sees you walk around every puddle or pond, she will think that water is something to be avoided. I just put on the boots and walk straight through every bit of water I can, and wade as far as possible into lakes/ponds while tossing bumpers. Hope this helps a bit, congrats on all the hard work, she is a lucky girl!
    "When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in the wilderness?"

  7. #7
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Fairbanks, Alaska


    Are you using the duck while it's frozen? Or partially thawed? Frozen solid birds can be painful on those teeth, but also don't want to let her try to eat the thing. They can be thawed/partially thawed & refrozen several times. She should be able to handle a duck after getting used to it. Here's a pic taken in June 2008 of my then 9 week old Chessie pup. It was a dry, fresh, hen mallard & not a really big bird, but took her a few tries to figure out how to carry it without doing a face plant.

  8. #8


    Thanks, I will make sure it is thawed pretty good before doing anything else. It was thawed when we used it yesterday.

    As for the water, she was born in Montana in November and then came here in January, so there hasn't been any water to get her into until now. She isn't afraid of it, per se, but she is still not used to swimming. I guess I will just have to get her out in it more with the waders on.

    Thanks for the Rosen Kennels info - I will use them as a reference.

  9. #9


    Take your time and make things fun. A little baby talk goes a long way in encouraging your pup.
    You are doing the right thing by taking her out to all the places you can. Going on walks exposes a young pup to all the smells and experiences that builds up confidence.
    Expose her to water but limit her exposure. Don't want pup to get cold for being over exposed. That can lead to water avoidance later down the road. Which takes quite a bit to over come. Short and sweet is better.
    I do like limiting the size of birds for young dogs. Mainly pigeons or smaller year old mallards. Bigger birds they tend to wrestle with to get it into there mouth or they drag it by the head or wing. Some pups may inadvertently learn to bite hard on birds because they are learning this habit at a young age to get a better grip on bird that was too big for them.
    For young dogs I practice all my obedience and bird work in a training yard. It is well known to the dog. It also limits distractions from strange smells and other things that may pull the pup away from the task at hand. I find they stay more focused in a place they are familiar with. I still take them out to different locations but I just allow them to explore. As they mature (and each dog is different) they will tell you they are ready for further field work outside of the training yard.

  10. #10


    Thanks for the info! I think the cold was the problem today. In the Lil Su it is really cold and she got to shivering and didn't want to retrieve very much. She obeyed, but she had more fun when we switched to the backwaters which are much warmer and not as deep.

    Any idea where I can get a couple pigeons? This is a drake mallard and pretty big.

    Also, I have kept her pretty limited to our land during training, and while she is comfortable there, I am not quite sure how to make the transition to other areas where there are distractions. When it is just us here, she is nearly perfect on obedience and training. When we go down to the river, she tends to not listen to my "Come" command because she wants to go explore. One day, a guy came down with his two dogs and kids. When I saw them, I told her to heel, and she started to until she saw them. When she turned for them, I yelled "Come" but she just ran to them and totally ignored me. It actually pissed me off quite a bit because I now she knows what I am commanding. So how do I make that transition to where she is just as obedient with distractions around?

  11. #11


    I took my little sisters yearling 8 pound boston terrier out swimming today, and after about 30 minutes of non-stop stick retreiving in an ice covered lake, he was still chompin' at the bit to get some more. I had to make him stop. I don't think cold is the problem, JMHO...
    "When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in the wilderness?"

  12. #12


    Well she was shivering pretty badly, so I dunno. Maybe she was just nervous about me commanding her to retrieve in the river. At any rate, she was much happier and more consistent in the non-flowing backwaters. But again, they are shallower, so maybe it is just the depth issue. She just isn't sure of herself swimming yet.

  13. #13


    Quote Originally Posted by AK Explorer View Post
    Maybe she was just nervous about me commanding her to retrieve in the river.
    That seems likely. Rivers can be scary. A nice beach on a sunny day is another thing. I would start there.
    "When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in the wilderness?"

  14. #14


    Not every dog or breed is the same. Each has own characteristics and limitations. They are simply wired differently. Some are just psychotic about retrieving and others you need to coax along. Dogs don't give you a whole lot of sign that they have had enough. Heat exhaustion and hypothermia are big issues. It is up to us handlers to read our dog and look for those limitations. There are lots of stories and articles about hunters that lost there dogs due to the heat in South Dakota or the cold waters off the coast somewhere hunting waterfowl. You are the best judge for your dog. You know he/she better than anyone else. Common sense goes a long way.

    When you take her on walks where distractions may occur have her on a long line. By that way you have a way to reinforce your command. You just simply grab the rope when you need to.
    Or collar condition your dog to a remote collar. There again another way to reinforce commands. But ecollars need to be used properly of course and can create problems if not done correctly.


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