Wow. Mistakes ? I could write a book ! While some of them have been mentioned, I'd like to lista few of the most important in my mind.
1) During OB and early training, my pup would do incredible things followed by days when he acted as if he had received a lobotomy during the night. I lost my temper one time and one time only with my pup. I did not strike him;however, I yanked (popped not yanked) his *** all over with a pinch collar when he wouldn't HEEL. I am still disappointed to this day for even losing it that one time. Shameful and unacceptable.
2) No one knows your dog better than you.
During FF up at a protrainers, My pup could not/would not make the transition to fecthing from the ground.
For those of you that aren't familiar with FF with a collar, you tell the dog to FECTH. If you get a refusal and are absolutely sure the dog understands your command, you knick with an ecollar. If you again get a refusal, you increase level of ecollar and knick again.
11 weeks in training, my trainer called me and explained that my dog was blowing up during FF. He would sit there and take the ecollar hit, even when led toward the bumper. He asked me to come up immediately.
I drove up and we put the dog up on the table. The dog was rock solid on FETCH as long as I was physically touching the bumper. I set the bumper on the ground with my pinkie on it and gave the FETCH command. BAM !, the dog was all over it. Take away my pinkie and nothing. On the third refusal, the dog did not vocalize when hit with the ecollar but urinated on the table. The trainer and I both felt like sh!t. We were obviously pushing too hard.
Fortunately I had a trainer that suggested an unconventional approach. Stop in the middle of FF, hunt the pup all season and see what develops, giving him a little more time to mature. No ecollar and no training for a week or so, to allow my dog to readjust after being kenneled for 11 weeks.
I asked two other pro trainers/authors. They both suggested that I apply more pressure. They explained that if I stopped FF, the dog would be useless. WHile I was a first time trainer, this approach just didnt feel right.
A friend of mine who had extensive dog experience, sided with me stating that I had all kinds of time to let the pup develop and that I had to go with my gut instinct.
After 2 days of a painful decision process, I brought my dog home. I refused to jeopardize my pup's desire. While I wasn't an expert, I just did not feel comfortable applying any additional pressure.
At home, we did no training whatsoever for a couple of days. Threw some fun bumpers and just hung out. I was extremely depressed as I felt that my pup had failed me, or actually that I had failed him.
On the way back from the park on day 3, I stopped to speak with people that were asking questions about Jax's training. While I was chatting, Jax kept trying to take his Dokken out my hand. I gave the LEAVE IT command but still he persisted. I finally HEELED him up and gave the FETCH command. WHAM ! He was all over the D. I held the Dokken 3 feet from his face again giving the command. WHAM ! All over it. I placed the Dokken on the ground touching my foot and gave the command. WHAM ! All over it again. I tossed the bumper 6 feet away and gave the command, expecting him to sit there. Instead, WHAM ! We did remote fetches for 5 minutes minutes. My pup was attacking with a passion. I never corrected him. Heck, I wasn't even running his ecollar.
My point to this story is that:
A) No one, not even a Pro knows your dog better than you !!!!
B) Sometimes (not very often) the experts are wrong, especially if they weren't able to evalute your dog in person.
3) DO NOT JEAPRDIZE YOUR DOG"S LIFE BY BEING A CHEAP BA$TARD !
After collar conditioning at the trainers, I had to buy an ecollar. Everyone told me to buy a TT Flyway Special. 410.00 !!! The cost of a decent pump shotgun. I refused and elected instead to purchase a cheaper inferior brand, saving 250.00. It had a no questions asked return and repair policy. THat's all you need , right ?
I was out hunting a lake with my pup and a friend one day. It started out toas a beautful morning but a nasty strom moved in. Wind blowing the rain sideways. Just plain nasty. Yet the ducks continued to fly.
The flooding up north was so bad that the river that emptied into the lake was 18 feet above normal level. Entire trees were floating into the lake and stacking up against the dam.
I had an overhead shot on a duck moving away from me fast. I cracked his fanny and dumped him. His forward progress carried him out to about 70 yards. I held off releasing my pup to ensure that the duck was deceased. He was not moving, so I gave the release command, and my pup was off !
When Jax got to within 30 yards or so, Mr. Duck popped his head up and started swimming towards the dam. I couldn't put a shot on the duck withhout jeopadizing my dog. My hunting partner ran down shore to get an angle on Mr. Mallard. By now, the duck was out at 100 yards with my pup in hot pursuit.
The waves in the lake were hammering my pup. I decided enough was enough, and gave the HERE command. No response. I hit the COME IN/HERE whistle. My pup continued to move out into the barage of floating trees. He couldn't hear as the wind was blowing directly into my face.
I grabbed his transmitter. I hated to knick him off of a retrieve but the weather had deteriorated further and no duck was worth my dogs life. As I went to push the knick button on the transmitter, the transmit button and a spring shot right out of the unit and over my shoulder. The cold had caused the rubber button to shrink and it had ejected itself. By now my pup was out at 250 yards and directly in the path of floating trees. I became sick to my stomach. He was going to get pinned in between, or worse, get forced or trapped below the surface and drown !
I threw the whistle to my hunting partner and told him to blow it until he passes out. I ran down shore to my Otter Stealth and hopped in. While we had a pleasant ride on the way over, the wind and whiteecaps were preventing any real forward progress with the trolling motor.
I felt like I was was watching a slow motion movie and thought I was going to throw up in the boat. I did evrything I could to stay focused trying to keep the boat on an interception vector. I was closing the distance on Jax and Mr. Mallard but I wasnt sure I was going to get to him before he got caught up in the trees packing up against the dam.
Once I closed to within 25 feet of my pup (Now out well over 300 yards), I screamed HERE HERE HERE with everything I had. He turned around and looked very surprised as if he wanted to say, "Hey dad ! WHat are you doing way out here ?"
He immediately turned and came to the boat where I promptly hauled his fanny over the side. Man, I was shaking bad. We closed on Mr. Mallard to winthin 20 feet and I brought him to an immediate standstill with a 3.5 Hevi # 4.
Jax and I headed back to shore. It scared my hunting partner and I so bad that just sat on shore not saying a word for about 10 minutes.
That night on the way home I stopped by Sportsman's Warehouse and paid 410.00 plus tax for a TT FLyway Special. I wasn't even upset about spending it. When I told my wife the story, even she wasn't upset that we blew 4 bills on an ecollar.
The moral here ? Sometimes "quality" and "dependability" cost money. There are times to be frugal and times to just put up and shut up.