1. Johnny Walker

    Johnny Walker Registered Users

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    My 4.5 month old went on a duck hunt the other day. I was not with him. I asked my wife to take him out with my families opening day annual hunt. The intention was not to hunt him but to expose him(He is not gun shy at all). So a slow day on the river but one came in he didn't see and was downed. Puppy decided to follow the canoe out and jump inside. (he's familiar with boats) and immediately went for the duck on the floor of the canoe and then ran off with it. He never chewed it, just held it in his mouth but did recall when cued. The owner of the duck had to pry it out of his moth with some gentle convincing. I thought I had him to a point where he would " drop" his dummies in my hand when we train. Is this an easy fix and is it a good sign that he doesn't destroy the ducks. I guess I'm wondering if I'm on the right path or did he show and signs of trouble ahead.
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Well, I'm certainly no expert, so I'll leave the important stuff to those that are, but I'll say for now that warm game is a completely different thing to a dummy! Just because you've got a good "drop" cue with a dummy, you have to proof that to new items. Generally, this would mean retrieving all sorts of objects first, in all sorts of different contexts, then dummies covered with pelts, then cold game before warm game. At only 4.5 months there is no way you've possibly done enough proofing to expect your puppy to behave as you'd like in a real hunting environment.
    I would say - as much as it's too late now - that prising the duck out of his mouth wasn't the right thing to do. If he shouldn't have had it, he shouldn't have been allowed to get it. My boy went on his first training shoot last year, which was his first time picking warm game. The head of the retrieving line told my husband not to rush to take the birds from him; to let him get used to the feel of them in his mouth. That even playing with them at this stage was perfectly acceptable. The last thing you want to do is make him protective and possessive for the future, and that's what you risk by taking it out of his mouth too soon. This was advice from a seasoned, traditional (ie not "force free") trainer.
     
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  3. Johnny Walker

    Johnny Walker Registered Users

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    Good advice as usual Snowbunny. He wasn't supposed to get at the bird, but he pulled away from the handler and went for it. It was supposed to be more of a familiarization and continued socialization for him. It's amazing how much you have to think about how everything affects these animals. Everything you do or don't do or say or don't say has some recourse(positive or negative). I'm learning you have to rationalize your action before you make it and consider the result. Effective dog ownership is definitely not reactive.
     
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  4. Johnny Walker

    Johnny Walker Registered Users

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    Ps. The person who pried the duck from his mouth was not a dog owner and from the old school. I never should have encouraged my wife to take him. Oh well, He's brilliant and I'll get him back on track. I will have 52 days in a few weeks to spend with him. I guess I jumped the gun but I wanted to see how much natural talent he had. Both his parents are great duck dogs so curiosity got the best of me.
     
  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I think (but others please correct me if - and where - I'm wrong!) that in general, people hold off on introducing puppies to the hunting environment until they're much older and steadier. I suppose this is probably to ensure they don't get a chance to practice bad behaviours? But I don't know. @bbrown, @heidrun, @David and @editor are probably best for advice here :)

    100% this! :D

    I think you do get better at making snap decisions when things go wrong (and they always will), and the more you spend time working out a plan in advance, the more natural it becomes to choose the right course when something unexpected happens.
     
  6. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Well it sounds like he has a nice soft mouth if he didn't damage the bird which is definitely a plus :)

    Generally people introduce game slowly and carefully but there are exceptions to that. These people often shoot over their dogs, they usually want their dogs to hunt, find and flush game (rather than just retrieve) and most importantly they have access to game all year round so they take their dogs out from quite small before they're strong and fast enough to catch anything and they let the game do the teaching. There's no doubt birds teach bird dogs and you have to bite the bullet at some point but best if you're there to manage it.

    So, not the end of the world but I would be managing interaction with game carefully from here on in. As with all retrieving the ideal is for the dog to give you what they have not to take it off them ;)
     
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  7. Johnny Walker

    Johnny Walker Registered Users

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    Thank you bbrown. I have a wing from that bird and I'm gonna continue retrieving in the yard till i can get to a proper trainer in the spring. He's 8 months now and unfortunately work and house renos took over the last few months. ( I work overseas ). He's clever so I'm hoping a few months break didn't harm anything and that 8 months isn't to old to train. He won't actually get to hunt again till September. We live in Canada.
     

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