First feathered dummy retrieve

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by Snowy, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. Snowy

    Snowy Registered Users

    May 2, 2017
    teeri wing dummy retrieve_crop - Copy.jpg This is a proud day for me!

    A short history of Nelson's retrieving training:

    It started very well when he was a puppy, retrieving his "puppy dummy" inside at first, before we moved to outside practice. At about 4 months he was retrieving medium sized dummies in the forest (predeeded by blank revolver shot). So far, so good.

    Then all of a sudden, at about 7 months, things went wrong. He still went to retrieve the dummy but would then run around the forest for 15-20 minutes with the dummy in his mouth. He was enjoying himself, but his owner wasn't. I tried all the usual stuff, setting off briskly in the opposite direction and showing no interest in the dummy. Nothing worked.

    Then at around 10 months, at a training session run by the breeder, we attached a 10m line to him and he managed a couple of excellent retrieves. Since then we've taken it very carefully, with only occasional retrieves on the line, and high value treats when he did his bit.

    Today I thought it might be time to remove the long lead and try him without. A big risk, but it had to happen sometime. All went well and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

    I've had some wood pigeon and black grouse sitting in the freezer for nearly a year, so I decided to build on his obvious excitement and enjoyment and move forward another step: A Black Grouse wing attached to a dummy.

    The first dummy was placed in his line of site and his retrieve was perfect (apart from delivery, but that's not the priority at the moment). He was a bit uncertain about the feathers at first, but he stuck at it, good boy :)

    We then did some "blind retrieves", rubbing the wing across the ground periodically, on the way to it's drop point. I knew he had a good sense of smell, but today my jaw just dropped. He set of like a rocket, nose scraping the ground, bum in the air and tail wagging. Straight to the dummy and straight back to me. We did five of those before I stopped. He clearly enjoyed himself and I wanted to leave him "wanting more".

    Words can't describe how proud I feel, especially after the earlier problems, when I really thought my "hunting companion" would end up being "just a pet".

    Today I've learned that "sticking at it" can give a good result in the end, and I hope this gives some inspiration to anyone who might be at the stage I was a few months ago.

    Thanks for reading, and if anyone has advice or constructive criticism, it is more than welcome.

    PS Not the best picture from the training session (it's from the last "simple hidden" retrieve behind the sauna).
  2. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

    Jan 28, 2014
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, and a great result to boot! :)
    I sometimes think we expect progress in a linear fashion...well I referring to myself here mostly! With Bramble, she has taught me so much, it has been really up and down. It's a challenge going back a few paces, and trying to work on a way to move elements forward.
    selina27 likes this.
  3. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

    Jun 16, 2015
    leicestershire uk
    Such a good boy :)glad your hard work and patience paid off. X
  4. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

    May 24, 2012
    Great stuff, really nice to read!
  5. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

    Aug 24, 2016
    Herefordshire UK
    @Snowy, good to read. I am thinking of trying something similar with Cassie, she has no interest in dummies out in the real world.:)
  6. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Registered Users

    Jun 10, 2018
    Agree, nice report. My Sophie is great on dummy retrieval, though I've not tried the blind test yet. She has struggled with shot pigeons in the field, just " snuffling" them and knocking off most of the feathers. I strapped a pair of wings to the dummy and she loves it, bringing it back to my hand. Magical moments.
    Karen and selina27 like this.

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