Retrieving question

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by Aggieman775, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Aggieman775

    Aggieman775 Registered Users

    Jul 23, 2017
    I have a lab that’s not yet 6 months old. We work on retrieving with a dummy quail and some dove scent and a cap gun to simulate a shot almost every day. He has done very well at it with and without the shock collar, but today I walked outside and he had a real bird in his mouth. He would not give it to me. He just wanted to play keep away. Then he ate it. My concern is once it’s a real bird that I shoot would he bring it to me like I have been training him to do or do y’all think he will play keep away? Do y’all think since he caught it himself that’s why he didn’t want to give it to me?
  2. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

    Jan 28, 2014
    Hi there,

    It is really good that your pup is doing well, worth noting however that he is 5 months old and very much a puppy. These early months are all about play and building up a strong bond between you and your puppy that will last a good many years.

    It is important at this juncture to bring your attention to the forum policy. The use of aversive means is not recommended, so we need to monitor such discussions carefully in line with our moderation policy regarding aversive techniques such as the remote shock collar.

    This is because we believe in using positive reinforcement methods to train our dogs. This is borne out of research which looks at the effectiveness of positive reinforcement and the negative impact aversive training methods can have on them.
    In the UK the following bodies are the looking to ban electric shock collars, the BVA ( British Veterinary Association) and the UK Kennel Club. Indeed electric training collars are already banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany and in some states in Australia. These organisations have taken this positive stance in response to clinical trials outcomes, and not just because they feel it isn't right. Research shows that electric pulse collars are no more effective than positive reinforcement methods.

    Here are a couple of useful links:

    Forum policy

    Moderator Note:
    b) training advice

    This forum supports and promotes positive reinforcement training. Members may not advise others to use painful punishments on their dogs, nor promote the use of punishment in dog training by posting anecdotes which endorse the use of such punishment.

    We don’t want to create a situation where people cannot even mention the word ‘aversive’ or discuss the way in which aversives are generally used in dog training. But if such discussions are dominating the group or creating a bad feeling, moderators may remove the entire thread.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
    lucky_dog, editor, drjs@5 and 5 others like this.
  3. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

    Mar 22, 2014
    My dog is not a working retriever, but I would like to share my experience with dead birds. We live by the sea, in the UK, and in the winter we regularly find dead gulls on the beach, which Molly used to grab and run off with to chew/ eat.
    I solved the problem by sounding enormously pleased when she picked up a dead bird, so that she came to show me. I didn’t attempt to take it from her, but put her on lead and walked with her holding it. Then I stopped and waited for her to drop it. I held the lead so she could stand or sit but not lie down. Eventually she did drop it. I rewarded heavily with food -and handed the bird back to her. We walked around again with her carrying it and repeated. We then did a few retrieves with it. In the end of course I kept it (well, put it in the nearest bin!) but Molly had got the message.

    I admit that Molly was a good bit older than your pup when I achieved this (she was about 15 months old) but that was because the previous winter I had done silly things like shout and try to get the bird away from her.

    I think this approach could work for you. After all you want a working dog to willingly bring you birds, and they’re more likely to do that if they know you’re going to be pleased.
    UncleBob, lucky_dog, Beanwood and 2 others like this.
  4. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

    May 24, 2012
    That's a good point Joy - I was taught to be THRILLED about anything the puppy brought me... no matter how disgusting!!! And now, with a seven-month-old pup, I don't focus on taking the dummy from him at all, I just tell him how clever and good he is when he brings it back to me. I cuddle him and let him hold the dummy in his mouth, and walk with him a bit, then say 'give' and take it, then give it back to him... I don't want him to start playing keep-away, and so far it seems to be working. That said, when he picks something disgusting up and I say 'what have you got in your mouth??' he runs away... :D I won't be starting any work with cold game with him for quite some time yet though, and to be honest I'm only just starting any dummy work with him. I know other people start their dogs off much earlier, but Merlin is still such a puppy...
    Joy and selina27 like this.
  5. Teller's mom

    Teller's mom Registered Users

    Dec 5, 2016
    I'll assume you are an American like myself lol. Most trainers over here would have an absolute fit about you allowing your pup to eat the bird and blah blah blah. They'd also probably advise you to stay away from birds until the dog was force fetched and advocate a heavy-hand with the e collar to break him of the habit. I don't think it's that serious, myself. Puppies will be puppies, let's be real. Teller used to play keep away when he was younger until I started coaxing him over to me - as others here have mentioned - by acting really interested in what he had and having some treats on hand to reward him for 'Bring It' (walking over to me with it) and 'Give' when he actually allowed me to take it with my hand. It's important to use the treat as a reward here for successfully delivering the object - be it shoe or bird - to you not as the incentive. Praise of course is absolutely key here. Since he's a pup you should even work in a play session with his favorite toy when he successfully completes a retrieve. You want him to associate bringing things to you with fun, praise, and all-around good times.

    I will say that when you actually introduce him to live birds and the shot, make sure you keep him on a check cord and if he's trying to run off with the prize, give the cord a gentle tug or reel him in slowly and use the same positive methods as you did whilst working on retrieves previously. I would also wait until he's obviously older to get him started on actual birds.

    And above-all don't let one little speed bump like this discourage you or have you questioning whether he will make a good bird dog. Every dog has his ups and downs and some are much worse than others, even trained dogs will sometimes flub, they aren't robots. Teller was at about 75% reliability with delivering to hand and I hadn't yet introduced him to birds because I was concerned - having read tips from American trainers - that getting him around birds with anything less than 100% would be the end of the world... Well, we were on a walk at the river and he freezes up before dropping into a sit, there was something floating by but other than that no birds around. I released him from the sit and allowed him to go in. Imagine my surprise when he comes swimming back with a Canada Goose! It was too big to put in my hand so he just left it at my feet and sat down.

    Warning, images of dead animals below !non-graphic!

    Stacia likes this.

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