Dog training

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Dog training

Postby bartman » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:39 am

Hi Guys,

I'm in the process of training my black lab for this upcoming season. I can't believe it is almost here.

Anyway she is doing pretty well with everything but the gun. I had her out this weekend on the boat and she was swimming and happily making her retrieves. We pulled out the starter pistol and tried to introduce the gun before her retrieve...she didn't like it. It startled her and she became very hesitant to retrieve the duck. She almost seemed to lose interest?

I'm not really sure what to do next. I never trained a dog before. I tried the pistol in a field earlier in the year with her and I got the same results. It pretty much ended our training sessions. I decided to lay off the gun at that point and kept our sessions to just retrieving. I have taken her down to my gun club when they are shooting trap. I have gotten her to the point where the gunshots don't spook her there and we can get within 10 yds or so of the shooters and she is comfortable.

Any suggestions? I don't want to ruin her by just shooting blind over her head, but it's going to be a tough season for us both if I can't get her comfortable with the gun. Would she/could she learn from watching another dog retrieve?
Thanks in advance,
Chuck
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Re: Dog training

Postby Baymen Moe » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:00 pm

I am by far no expert, and don't even have a dog. Have you shot the pistol with her knowing it was coming or just blindly? Seems if she is ok at the trap range at ten yards, then she would be ok with it, but I don't know what situations you've had her in.
I have a few fellow hunters that introduce loud sounds very early on. All I can say is keep working on it but at a slow pace. A gun shy dog is no good in any hunting situation. Hope you can work it out.

On a side note, have you tried the gun dog forum?
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Re: Dog training

Postby bartman » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:17 pm

Early on in training (April timeframe), she didn't know it was coming. Just blind random shots...this weekend I think she knew. That being said, I'm not sure how to make that link for her.

I was trying to simulate a hunt. Got her at heel, shoot the gun, through the bird, send her for a retrieve. My buddy was shooting the pistol and he was approximately 10 yds away.

She seemed to know it was coming as she actually kinda showed interest in the pistol. She wanted to see and smell it, she just didn't really like the noise. She kept looking for it to come again. I haven't tried the Dog forum yet, I might post it up there.
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Re: Dog training

Postby rddckhtr » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:09 pm

It is not uncommon for young dogs to be sensitive to gun fire. proper introduction is a must. The dog needs to be introduced gradually with the starter pistol being fired away at a distance, so as not to distract the dog while it is retrieving. There are several good books covering this including Waterdog by Wolters. I recommend you get together with a pro or local Retriever club to safely accomplish gun fire introduction with out damaging your dog. Best of luck with the new dog.
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Re: Dog training

Postby B.E.Nelli » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:19 pm

You need to back way up. First rule is don't start the pistol over her head, start at a distance with a helper. You throw the retrieve and as soon as she is running have your helper fire. Watch for ANY hesitation. If she shows no hesitation have him move in ten yards at a time until you can do that standing next to her. Then quite for the day. This is a slow drawn out process to do it correctly. Next day start with the pistol to see if she's still comfortable with it, then grab a .22 and do the same process at distance moving in. Quit for the day. Come back with a 410, repeat. Then 20 gauge, repeat. 12 gauge with light target loads or just primer loads, repeat. Then bigger loads after that. If ar any point she shows hesitation, stop and go back a gun and distance. This is the only way to do it properly. Keep her interest on the bird at all times and she will begin relating the gun to her getting a bird in her mouth. You might have a bit more difficult now that she is already scared of it. But this will hopefully fix her. Just take it slow, you can NOT rush this process. Hope this helps.
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Re: Dog training

Postby bartman » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:44 am

Thanks for the comments guys. I really appreciate them. I feel like I am back in college cramming before exams...Looks like slow and steady is the rule for the day. I don't want to screw her up by rushing into this season...I plan on hunting with her for several more to come so if need be, she'll get a late start on this one.

I did reach out to a local pro to see if he can help, but I haven't heard anything back yet. Do you guys have any recommendations on local trainers who are good and might be able to assist?

Thanks again for all of the replys.
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Re: Dog training

Postby B.E.Nelli » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:04 am

No help there, I'm in NE :-)
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Re: Dog training

Postby evening tide » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:26 pm

http://quinebaugkennels.com/
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Re: Dog training

Postby tpd5 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:45 pm

Which pro have you contacted? Are you following a program?
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Re: Dog training

Postby bartman » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:18 am

I have contacted Centerville Farms in Hope Valley. We are discussing getting her going over some Pidgeons and Quail. Obviously not ducks, but the idea is to get her good and excited and try to introduce the gun that way. It is still a vast improvement over my training so far which has constisted of duck wings on bumpers or a dokken duck. Will see how it goes...plus I will be able to particpate which will be a good learning opportunity for me as well.
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Re: Dog training

Postby duckmanor » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:07 pm

Bartman, send me your address, I'll send you Water Dog. Just send it ack when your done. T
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Re: Dog training

Postby oz1 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:29 am

Hey Bartman,
I have been using Jim Pickunka (pondviewretrievers.com) in Conneticut. He is not too far due west of you and really has done a great job with my boy a BLM. I am looking forward to hunting with him this year! Good luck! Oz
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Re: Dog training

Postby Jofa » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:49 pm

I introduced my dog to shots by taking her out into an abandoned farm i know of and had my son playing with her : retrieving and just fun horseplay. While she was in that positive state of mind, i went off a couple hundred yards away & fired a .22 short. I made no big deal out of it, just kept her playing. Over a few visits to the field, I brought the 22 shots closer and closer, and gradually moved to shotguns when i was sure she was happy around shots. I was lucky because early on she began associating the shot with play time and retrieving something.

I had more trouble getting her to switch from fetching bumpers / dokkens to picking up real birds. She would point and then find shot birds, but no matter what, would not pick up a dead bird. I got a few dead birds from a trip to Addieville in RI and had no success until i went back to the positive / having fun / play scenario which had her & I running around the yard with the dead bird being towed on a string playing keep way and being silly with it.

Keeping the sessions short and low stress, and making the atmosphere completely silly and fun has allowed me to break through many a roadblock w my dog. Give it a try, Good luck!!
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Re: Dog training

Postby bartman » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:01 pm

Thanks for the posts guys.

I am getting her on live birds down in Hope Valley and then firing a cap gun...she is getting less bothered by it, but it is a very slow process. Taking her down to Centerdale has been great so far. She's come a long way in hunting birds after a few visits.

I'm trying mix in some noise during eating. After exchaning a few PM's with proff leaky and thinking back as to how I made most progress with her other trainings...it all involved food. Food and treats have been her motivator.

I will let you know how she turns out, but this will be a late season for her if at all. We aren't giving up yet.
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Re: Dog training

Postby Professor_Leakey » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:54 pm

how old is she again? no need to ever give up, just keep it fun for her. if youre thinking late season for her first trip out in the field, consider the weather. does she love the water? has she been in cold water before? read up on hypothermia in dogs.

i had a similar situation with my dog. i didnt think she was ready early season 2 years ago. she was like 9 months old at the time. i ended up holding off and waiting. last season she did fantastic...nothing like seeing your dog bring back their first bird and all the work you put in paying off. let us know how it goes.

once you get her on real birds that ought to become a huge motivator for her, too. labs are really food-driven but birds should be their number one.
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Re: Dog training

Postby bartman » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:27 pm

She is 1.3 years old. We came to the realization this weekend that the gun is spooking her. Really light loads and she shut down. The trainer very politely and nicely said its not working. He told me in a nice way that she is probably best suited as a companion dog and that she didn't have the drive. I appreciated his honesty and thanked him for his time. We still learned a bunch from him in our few weekends of training and we are better off for doing it.

Molly and I are going to keep after it because, we love the training and have a good time doing it together...even if its just for funzies.. We just need to make the link with the gun. We will get there, we just need to try something different.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and recommendations...Our next post on this thread will be Molly's first retrieve :beer: .
Thanks,
Chuck
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Re: Dog training

Postby Jofa » Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:08 pm

Oh well, thats bad news, but I wouldnt give up. i think all dog 'road blocks' are just problems waiting to be approached at the right angle. There are no dead ends, just obstacles you have to find the right way to get around.

good luck in any case.
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Re: Dog training

Postby Professor_Leakey » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:06 pm

how did she react to the live birds? was she nutso for them or just eh?

discouraging, yeah, but i say keep at it...also, check out the sticky in the dog forum on gun shyness. if you need someone to shoot the starter pistol from a distance im only 20 minutes from providence and would be happy to lend a hand.

http://www.duckhuntingchat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=102734
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Re: Dog training

Postby JTR » Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:14 pm

I am by no means a dog training expert. Correct me if I am understanding this wrong, but your trainer came to the conclusion the your dog wasn't cut out for hunting because she could handle light shotgun loads???
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Re: Dog training

Postby tpd5 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:30 pm

Find a new trainer. There are a few good ones in the area. I highly rec. talking to Jim at Pond View Retrievers or Buck at swift river retrievers. The fact your previous "trainer" said your dog did not have what it takes after just a couple sessions tells me you need to look elsewhere.

Also Chris Akin has some videos on working with gun shyness. I would also take a look at those.
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Re: Dog training

Postby kjm1022 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:37 am

After almost 10 months of training, it was all worth it. Zoe got her first retrieve on the opener, 1 wood duck and 2 geese. :grooving:
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Re: Dog training

Postby JTR » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:06 am

Sweet Kev!
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Re: Dog training

Postby Professor_Leakey » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:01 pm

congrats kjm and zoe :thumbsup:
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Re: Dog training

Postby Baymen Moe » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:15 pm

Very nice kjm, you must be proud. :thumbsup:
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Re: Dog training

Postby MIKE J. » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:29 pm

Congratulations KJM n Zoe. Great picture. :thumbsup:
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