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Hey guys. I need some words of experience here. I'm a novice duck hunter and so is my dog, Lily (she's 8 months old and has only done 2 open water retrieves for shot ducks before this incedent that I'm about to describe).

I went out and shot a golden eye on a lake that was mostly frozen over other than a narrow finger of open water ~25 yds off the bank. The duck was dead in the water. Lily was very interested in the bird. She went in the water get it 3 or 4 times, and actually had it in her mouth but panicked when she tried to get out. Each time she came out she left bird behind. I got the bird after a chilly introduction to the polar bear club, and I'm frustrated/really pissed that I had to go for a swim when I have a perfectly good bird dog. After I threw it up on the ice she knew exactly what to do. She took it right to the bank and waited for me to get out of the water (it was a scene, I'll tell you! and I'm very thankful to be here writing about it)

Granted that was a pretty challenging retrieve, but my questions for you guys are: is it too much to expect for my young dog right now? Is it the kind of thing that she will be able to do when she has more experience and confidence? And finally, I am holding off the forced fetch training until after this hunting season, but I think it would have been handy this time. I just want to introduce her to hunting and let her have fun learning this fall. Is there anything I can do training wise to help her in this kind of situation?

Thanks for any and all input. I don't want to leave any dead ducks, but I really don't want to go swimming again until next summer!
 

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Harvey-

Is this asking too much of a dog on a third retrieve? No, these dogs are amazing. That said, DO NOT be mad at the dog for not making that retrieve. My suggestion is to simulate that exact situation with bumpers/dokkens or some other dummy. Labs want nothing else than to please you, but its a new situation they hadn't encountered and probably just didn't know what to do. try working the dog up to that point on shorter easier retrieves.

One last note of suggestion- Don't set your dog up to fail. If she is still new to the game, make it easy on her. Hunt open water and make the retrieves easy. You want your dog to build confidence in themself and enjoy the trip.

What I mean by don't set your dog up to fail, imagine taking a 7 year old kid out to play baseball. You toss two balls really easy to him and he hits a couple grounders. The third time you throw him a 80mph curve, don't be upset for them not hitting it. Work them up to their potential.

Best luck!

Mike
 

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Harvy- one last thing to think about. Be careful with your dog making retrieves on and around ice. You don't want to lose an 8month old puppy from falling through the ice. I personally do not send my dog on ice that is not safe for me to walk on. I try to avoid potential dangerous situations like that.

Not harpin on ya, I just seen a lab fall through one time, it scared the crap out of me.

Mike
 

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I wont send my dog out on the ice either, so i wont shoot a bird that will fall on the ice, a buddy of mine sent his dog on a retrieve on ice and when she hit the edge of it she cut her throat and bled to death before he could get her to a vet. im just glad i wasnt there to see it . no my dogs dont go out on ice....
 

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Mike is right on the money... nothing more to be said.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
 

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i am the same with the other guys here when my pup was 5 mouths we took her with an older dog not really expercting her to got out on the ice ... but as soon as we downed birds she though taht she could do it too.... yeah it was a cold ace swim to get her when she could find the open path to come back... after thsi experiance she became very shy of the ice and seince then won't let her make ice retives but i am probly just paranoyed
 

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good advice guys, how cold of water can a lab take. my yellow loves to retrieve duck out of the icy waters. its just starting to freeze up here wandering how it effects there joints and such if it does when they go out in the freezing stuff. i know im not fond of getting wet this time of year(hole in my waders). totally agree on seding a dog on unstable ice mine fell through once had to go get him damn that was a cold and short day
 

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My 2 year old black lab was only 10 weeks old when she had her first experiance with ice, it wasn't a fun thing for either of us but she has since had a few retreives where she had to climb out of the water onto the ice and also swim through thin up to 3/8" ice she keeps her head up and uses her legs and paws to break a path. We try not to hunt our dogs in these conditions but sometimes the water freezes up while we are hunting. I do agree with the other guys, don't put your dog in jepordy if you can help it.

Keep the sport alive take a kid hunting/fishing.
 
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