Lab won't pick up freshly shot game

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by ewood, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. ewood

    ewood Registered Users

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    Hello,

    I wonder if anyone can help! I have a nearly 3yr old lab who doesn’t like to pick up ‘just shot’ game.

    She’s nearly 3 yrs old. It’s our first season on shoot ‘picking up’. She’s very excited, and is very enthusiastic. Loves retrieving at all times. She’s not the most confident of dogs, but certainly isn’t gun shy.

    We have, I think, taken all the right steps to get to this point. Been training on dummies for a couple of years, transitioned to game, cold partridge at first, in a stocking, out of stocking.. hen pheasant to cock pheasant. At no point had a problem. She took to it brilliantly.

    Now skip to first day on shoot and after a couple of drives watching, threw her a warm dead hen pheasant to retrieve. She went bounding over, had a good sniff and left it. I know it doesn’t sound that uncommon - I’ve been reading lots of other articles about it, but it gets a bit more baffling.

    We’ve been about 4 times now, and always the same, desperate to go and pick up - I send her, she goes straight to it, sniffs and pushes it around a bit and leaves. Over the course of the weeks, I’ve tried going back a few steps, mimicking what we did in training with the cold game.

    At first putting one in a stocking and sending her - no problem, will retrieve. Both hen and cock. Pulled out a few feathers - no problem. Then tried just strapping up the wings - no problem.

    I can now send her for either a warm hen or a cock pheasant, that I have left for her, a memory, without any strapping and she will happily retrieve.

    This weekend I literally tried sending her for a just shot bird that hit the deck and she won’t pick it up. I then pick it up, waited maby a few/five mins till the end of the drive, laid it back down on the ground, heeled her away with me about 20 meters and sent her back to retrieve it and no problem, picks it up!

    So I'm trying to figure out what could be putting her off in that initial moment? They are all dead, not pricked or runners. Does anyone know if the smell of the shot is really strong that could put her off, or the scent of adrenalin rushing through the birds? Or that there is no human scent on the bird (I believe the reverse of that can sometimes put a dog off) !?

    Has anyone had any experience of the same, any advice, suggestions. My trainer can’t understand it, and neither can I. Thanks in advance for any help!!!!

    Emma
     
  2. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Has she ever been reprimanded near a freshly shot bird, like 'leave it' some time in the past? And now remains a very obedient dog?
     
  3. ewood

    ewood Registered Users

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    Hi Stacia, thanks for your suggestion. She's defiantly not that obedient a dog - I wish! But she hasn't been reprimanded near a freshly shot bird. I suppose around the game cart I may have asked her to 'leave' them but that would be all!
     
  4. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Maybe one of the pheasants wasn't quite dead and she got scratched, so now wary?
     
  5. David

    David Moderator Forum Supporter

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    That's an interesting one. I had problems with Lady blinking freshly shot when it was placed on the ground for her to retrieve, but not from her first proper retrieve onwards when she very clearly marked a bird that had been shot right in front of her and came down with a big thump a few yards away. I crossed my fingers and sent her off and all was well. She now blinks dummies and cold game - so work that one out. I do have big problems with her not picking up pigeons, though which is very annoying. She'll bring pheasants back but not pigeons. That leads me to think maybe it's just she hasn't clicked yet that the shot bird is just like a set up retrieve. Lady has been "proofed" on pheasants but not pigeons, so possibly just the same with your dog. I don't have a tactic on how to move forward, though. Maybe you could team up with another picker-up who could help on the next outing.
     
  6. ewood

    ewood Registered Users

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    No, definitely dead pheasants.. David, after her first shoot when she first refused to pick up, she wouldn't then pick up cold game during training the following week.. (and in fact wouldn't retrieve dummies after cold game prior to that, but that kind of makes sense since they are far less exciting) It was only through putting cold pheasants back into stockings that we got past that. Excuse my ignorance, what do you mean by "proofed" on pheasants? It does sound quite similar to your pigeon problem!? Thanks
     
  7. David

    David Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I just meant had she been accustomed to picking up game in a wide variety of situations so picking up game wasn't dependent on it being in similar looking places to the training areas. For example, last time out Lady had to go under a gate to retrieve. She did that fine but couldn't work out how to get back with a pheasant even though there was loads of room under the gate. :D
     
  8. Indy

    Indy Registered Users

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    I have found with young dogs that are reluctant to pick freshly shot game, is to send them for a runner. This usually sorts them out as it gets their hunting instinct going. You can also try with a bird in cover not in plain view, also use a bird that has not been picked by another dog.

    A couple of my dogs will not pick birds that have been in another dogs mouth, they will simply sniff and move on to a bird that has not been touched.
    That might be down to teaching them not to take a bird from another dog?
     
  9. ewood

    ewood Registered Users

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    Hi Sue, thanks for your message. I have wondered if sending her for a runner would be worth a go. I've been reluctant incase she got one that fought back and put her off even more, plus I didn't want to be responsible for it getting away hurt, but I may give it a go if the opportunity arises and another dog is close enough to catch it after her!
    She has had the opportunity to pick up a bird untouched by another dog but left it.
    Thanks!!
     

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