I have read most of the past posts about GSPs and whether or not they can make good duck dogs. Definitely some heated discussion that seems to become a comparison between labs and GSPs. Not looking to go that way with this post if possible.
listening to the advice from the forums I got on a waiting list for the best breeding I could find with the best pick of the litter I could manage. The breeders (the dam was available to view, the stud dog was available by phone) talked about how biddable the dogs were, easy to train with an extremely high natural desire to retrieve. Previous pups from the stud were proven performers and the parents were both well titled. I could have saved a few bucks but finding the best breeding possible and waiting for the litter and until I saved a few more dollars was the best thing I could have done.
She is now just over a year old and she is performing great. Part of the success is the breeder is also a professional trainer that I return to every other week or so. She earned junior title in one weekend at 11 months, scored a 112 prize one in NA, and has two legs of her senior hunter title in AKC. She will be an excellent upland dog.
In the Northeast the only pheasant we see is stocked public lands. I do a lot more duck hunting so I needed to start a training program for retrieving. Excellent advice from the forum -get a program and stick with it, and get professional help when you need it!
My GSP loves the water and loves to retrieve more than most, but again these are the traits that were from the parents.(good breeding shouldn't be underestimated)
Back to pile work was easy, simple casting was a breeze and after just a month of training we signed up for the GSPCA water dog test and managed a RD title. We will be ready for the expert level next year with out a doubt. She had to retrieve two ducks for the test. Her first flyer was crippled and swam into a little cove and hid in the vegetation ended up about 175 yards away. She retrieved the second duck quick and easy but had to hunt the first one up. I could only help get her in the general area no one knew exactly where the duck was. She has such a high prey drive she knew there was a duck to find and she was not going to quit until she found it or I called her back. That kind of tenacity is what a duck dog is for me.
One of the other dog owners said something to me "so much prey drive maybe she wont be steady, hey". I have been working on remote sit and as the trainer has helped me understand Sit means Sit. Because she is biddable and wants to please she will stay put........mostly
she still is a GSP high energy dog, a really good dog, but not perfect. We are training to retriever standards and just completed swim by. This is cool stuff. I understand when the Lab guys are bragging on their dogs, my GSP is not a lab but she is starting to perform on a level that should impress my hunting buddy.
I was concerned about the amount of control required for retrieving and how it might effect the upland work but she seems to understand the difference between the two. For fun we do triple marks with orange bumpers thru the nastiest thickest lilly pads at the swamp and I quit before she will. I think my GSP is going to be a pretty good duck dog for the upcoming season. I cant wait to see her perform. In our area last few years the water was warm until late December when it started to freeze. I have never sent any dog thru the ice and have always made sure I had a way to warm them up. I don't think the cold will be a problem if I am careful and look after my dog. (no different than what I do for my lab)
I would like to hear from other GSP owners and how they are making out with their dogs and if they are having the same success with retrieving. So far everything has been going great, are there any pitfalls waiting for my GSP? I was thinking about entering her in some AKC retriever tests to see how she does, anyone have experience with this?