Can and old dog learn new tricks?

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Can and old dog learn new tricks?

Postby Trois_beaux_canards » Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:18 pm

A buddy of mine has a very well behaved Golden Retriever that he got from the Humane society. I think he's about 4 years old (give or take one). I have his blessing to train his dog for hunting (he doesn't hunt), but the dog is a little gun shy. I have no question that he has, or could have terrific blind manners. What are your opinions, could a dog this old be trained to retrieve ducks by the fall (as of January '05) and get over its fear of loud noises? Is this just a lost cause?

Being of limited income, I cannot afford to hire a trainer, so I'm essentially on my own for this task. So please don't bother to suggest that I hire someone, I'll save that for when I own a dog of my own.
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Postby SteveInTN » Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:22 pm

I'll tell you what, you're as rich as anybody in the commodity that is required in order to pull it off...

Time, and you've got as much as anybody else. Just get some good advice from anyone you know, training material in the form of videos or books, and/or join forces with a local retriever club. Being four years old the first thing you should do is determine how strong his desire to retrieve is. Take him to to a field and throw some simple retrieves for him, is he stoked? Take to to some water and do the same, what is his attitude? Can he not get enough or does he lose interest? Get some feathers in the form of a dead duck or pigeon. What is his first opinion of one?

If his desire is strong, then it is up to you and your training skill & knowledge as to how far he can progress by the time season starts. Start with obedience and keep driving that home until he is rock-solid. AFTER that move on to some retriever training. Get him steady, help him improve his marking skills. That would be the meat & potatoes before season. If possible, you could move on to some more advanced retriever training but you probably won't master any others before season.

If his desire is NOT strong, strap on your thinking cap and think long and hard before you embark on the journey. Just because a dog is from a retriever breed doesn't mean they were born to be a hunter. Your average Golden is probably many generations removed from hunting ancestors. Just like Labs, they make awesome pets and that is primarily what they are bred for. The potential is usually there, but the chances that you can tap into it are not as high as they would be if the dog were from hunting parents.

Basically starting a four year old is just like starting a puppy. The up side is that you can assess up front what the likely outcome is going to be. Another up side is that they might already be odedient. The down side is that they WILL have some bad habits that are going to be hard, VERY HARD to break.

It takes a special dog to want to be a duck dog, and it takes an even more special trainer to do what you are wanting done. Doesn't mean YOU can't do it, just means you really have to work hard at it.

Just my opinion...
"I'll start spending less time with my dog and more with my wife when she starts fetching ducks for me"
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Postby Trois_beaux_canards » Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:38 pm

Thanks for the words of encouragement, I've got plenty of feathers to start with! I'll give it a go ASAP.
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Postby SCoutdoorsman » Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:59 am

Well said Steve. Give it all you got its never to late IMO if you got something to work with. :thumbsup:
Everyone must believe in something and I believe I'll go hunting. When men bond something must die.
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Postby 98ramtough » Mon Jan 17, 2005 10:48 am

Is the dog gun shy or noise shy? There is a big difference. When you pull a gun out, does the dog already become shy? If yes, this is not a good thing at all and will be very difficult to overcome. If you pull the gun out and the dog does not shy, then he is noise shy. This is much easier to overcome.

My chessie was noiseshy at first and it took about 4 months to get him over it. I started him on a capper and randomly fired it around the house, or had the lady fire it around the house while I was playing with him. After he was not scared of it anymore I started using it on retrieves. Then he started getting excited when the capper would go off, and start to mark the bird.

Finally I introduced him to a shotgun and started moving closer and closer to him with the gun. The very last step, I tied him to my waist and as the ducks would come in I would only shoot if I knew 100% that I would drop it. After about a week and 20 shots, 20 ducks dead right in the pocket he picked it up. He has been a great dog all season and made some LONG hard retrieves. I got my dog pup from the pound about 10 months ago, everyday I am thankful I made that decision.

Good luck, let me know if I can help in anyway.

Mike
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Postby Trois_beaux_canards » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:48 pm

The dog is noise shy. Fireworks and caps fired from cap guns etc. We brought him out to our acreage and pulled out a our guns for target practice, it wasn't until the shots were fired that he hid behind his master. I figured that would be the easiest part to acclimate him to....
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