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I have a five year old lab. She knows basic commands like sit, come, and stay. I really want her to retrieve ducks. Is she to ol

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  • I have a five year old lab. She knows basic commands like sit, come, and stay. I really want her to retrieve ducks. Is she to ol

    I have a five year old lab. She knows basic commands like sit, come, and stay. I really want her to retrieve ducks. Is she to old to try to train? How should i start the training.

  • #2
    Water Dog, by Richard Wolters, Game Dog, by Richard Wolters, best basic books, very strong.




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    • #3
      She's not too old and likely she is a lot smarter than you can imagine. My female lab probably knew over 100 commands and hunting companions were constantly commenting on her being able to "speak English". Read the books suggested above and spend an hour a day for a month with her. You won't believe the outcome! A year is better.

      I did have a couple of unique problems with mine though:
      1. She was afraid of the water. We had to take her with us to the river and all jump in for great fun. Eventually she joined in and after a week or so lost her fear of the water. So much so in fact, that she commonly retrieved over 50 ducks in one day from the water.
      2. She was scared to death of gun shots. I started pouring her feed and firing a .22 LR in unison. Gradually I moved up to a .410, a 20 gauge and then a hot 12 gauge. Again, it took a couple of weeks but she learned to get excited for hunting when she saw a gun.

      They are great dogs and easy to train because to them, a smile and a pat on the head from their master is as good as a doggie treat to other breeds. They never get full of love for their master so you can train all day if you like.

      Good luck and happy hunting!

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      • #4
        I'll tell you a little story, we have a ~10-12 year old black lab that we got as a rescue from the pound, every time someone would shoot a firecracker or gun around her she would go crazy barking, yelping and running around. We always thought she was gun shy, after all we never taught her to hunt. But one time, about 3 years ago, we went skeet shooting, the range was down a long dirt trail and as we got closer and closer the more excited she got; then at last we cleared the trees and she could see the skeet flying and being shot, she immediately started barking and trying to run out on the range to retrieve the skeet! We had to keep a firm hold on her leash to keep her from being shot running out on the range! I had never heard of a hunting instinct so strong before, the only bad thing is we don't hunt ducks or quail so we haven't been able to take her anywhere hunting, regrets, regrets!

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        • #5
          My uncle told me of a way to cure dogs of gun shyness, take the dog out in a boat and throw the dog in the water, as he swims back to shore fire a shotgun over his head (over him in the air,not at him), he will be so focused on getting to shore he won't take heed to the gunshots. Pretty soon he won't even care about gunshots on dry land.

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          • #6
            mspl8, this method might produce a dog that is both gun and water shy.

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            • #7

              Sounds like the dog has been a family pet for 5 yrs., and is a female? You have your work cut out for you. First you will be able to tell early on how aggressive the dog is, how motivated to learn to retrieve ducks. A pro-trainer would evaluate the dogs motivation early on, and just might tell you it isn't worth the time, and effort...but maybe not.

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              • #8
                clinchknot, From my experience, you can't tell by aggressiveness. My buddy bought his from a breeder that was a great trainer and evaluator. The breeder told him that his dog was absolutely the best he had ever raised. He also mentioned that he was going to kill the runt of a black lab litter because she was very small and extremely shy... totally non-aggressive.

                My buddy talked the master trainer into giving him the cull and he gave the dog to me since I always seemed to be up for a challenge. He appologized for her miserable state and hoped I might be able to at least train her to retrieve ducks if she could swim.

                She couldn't swim... she was afraid of water, shooting, cows, squirrels, and cowered at almost any movement or sound. His very expensive, aggressive dog was difficult to train and had a mind of its own and never amounted to much. None of us wanted him in the field while we were hunting... he was a mess. My buddy finally got rid of him to avoid the annoyance.

                My non-aggressive dog learned over a hundred commands; was the most well-behaved hunting dog I have ever seen and she became the top hunting dog in the history of our family... absolutely the best any of us has ever seen. She is still a legend after being gone for 45 years.

                We have never seen a better duck, quail, pheasant, or dove dog. She was top notch at geese too and retrieved hundreds but she was a little small for a fiesty Honker in deep water. She always won the battle but just about got drowned on a couple of occassions so I would only give her a 9 out of 10 when it comes to "big geese with only a broken wing tip in deep water".

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                • #9

                  Here's my deal. A young pup can me motivated, and you can get them excited to retrieve, but maybe not with them as well. My two bird dogs are family pets. They sleep in the bedroom with me, and I spend a lot of time with them, but, they go crazy when they know I am going hunting, because I got them excited about it early on. A family pet that has led the life of leasure for 5 yrs. can easily be not motivated to crash the cold water, and retrieve a duck. The "hard to teach an older dog new tricks" thing. And females, in my experience have an increased likelihood to not be an agressive, motivated dog. They can be much more timid, and get discouraged easily. And as I said, a pro-trainer can work with a dog, and see signs early on that it is a waste of time trying to train them. But, as I also said, maybe not. It is just a matter of percentages.

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                  • #10
                    Dakotaman- love the pavlov's dogs shot training really intelligent training technique. I understand many dog trainer's do not allow dogs inside. I live in WI the winter's are very cold, so obviously dog is in garage or semi-sheltered area, but its my understanding that the weather can take a toll on an animal's muscles and joints. Is there a lower life expectancy for these dogs due to the rigor's or are they adapted well enough to take the harsh weather just as if allowed inside? I do understand house dogs need to exercise a regularly to be healthy also.

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                    • #11

                      Dakota..By non aggressive I mean an unwillingness to retrieve. Guys can bang their head against the wall, but many a pro-trainer will tell you, if they are honest, that you are going to pay a lot of money for not that good of results...better to get another dog. I have a female chocolate that was the runt of the litter...extremely competitive, and a focused hunter. You can only do so much with what you've been given..like the teacher that is expected to teach some braindead kid.

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                      • #12
                        I see what you mean Clinch... I have no doubt that there are some mentally deranged pups out there and ultimately their slow learning behavior should tell us something. Mine was quite dumb and afraid at the start but she was still a quick learner from the time she was a puppy.

                        Flip, we always leave our hunting dogs outside. They need to build a coat that protects them in the harsh weather, they need to stay sensative to outdoor smells and they need to get a LOT more exercise than they could possible ever get inside a house. House dogs can hunt but not like an outdoor dog.

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                        • #13

                          Dakota Dan. I'm not of that position. My dogs stay indoors, and that allows me to communicate with them for many hours each day. That is a big part of our field relationship...good communication. My dogs must have a vocab of 150 words each. But I take my dogs for walks each day, and often for field runs each week as well. Here's a good one. A young fellow I had in school had a litter of good looking yellow labs from hunting parents. He put the pups up for sale, and he wanted too much money for my liking. I expected a discount being he was my pupal, The dogs sold out in no time, and it must have been 5 yrs. later last Fall I run into him duck hunting, He gets out of his truck in all camo, and we have a good reunion chat. I asked him, where is your dog? He tells me he got the pick of the litter, everyone that bought one was very happy, but his had no interest in retrieving what-so-ever. He gave up working with it.

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