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Need Help Training A Duck Dog

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  • Need Help Training A Duck Dog

    I'm having trouble getting my dog (almost 3) to bring any downed waterfowl back to me or to even pick them up. I got him to retrieve 3 birds his whole first season, but will not since then. I'm looking for advice on how to get him to not only pick up the ducks but also bring them back to me repeatedly. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Is the dog going out to the birds and ignoring them or just refusing to move? In either instance, Force Fetch would fix it. If you do it yourself be sure to follow a guide and err on the side of too little pressure until you’re sure of what your dog can take. I tried it with my Boykin and screwed it up and added too much pressure to him and he shut down, so I just trained him with a “natural retrieve” turning the whole thing into a game. He doesn’t have the style of a dog that was force fetched, but he gets ducks and brings them too me and for me that’s good enough.

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    • #3
      What breed of dog is it? If it is not a Labrador Retriever or similar breed, it may just not like the cold water.

      If it IS a Lab it may not be accustomed to retrieving in the water. For that I suggest spending lots of time with it in the Summer when water is fun. Get in the water with it and have fun swimming to train it strong swimming skills. Do lots of retrieving so it knows you want the stick or decoy on every retrieve. Most retrievers do this by instinct so if yours isn't a retriever breed you may never get what you desire.

      If the temperature is colder than about 10 below zero, even many Labs are reluctant to go in the water because their fur freezes instantly upon exit from the water and makes them heavy. Don't ever force your dog into the water in extreme cold as they can freeze over like a block of ice.

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      • #4
        He doesn’t have the style of a dog that was force fetched, but he gets ducks and brings them too me filezilla uc browser rufus and for me that’s good enough.
        Last edited by OPTIMISTA; 01-31-2020, 07:59 PM.

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        • #5
          He's a 3/4 lab, and he loves swimming and will go get birds when he is alone, but the trouble is that almost never happens because we have his litter mate and another guy brings his dog along and my lab just wants to play. I have had success in getting him to keep his head by keeping him on a short ( like 2 ft) leash, but then he doesn't want to go and retrieve. I know it's not that he doesn't see them because we throw rocks and everything at them and he looks at them. He will go out and nose them if he can touch, and if he can't he'll go and bring them in to where he can touch and drop them to snuff then just leave them. His sister on the other hand was doing the same thing but this year we got her to go and retrieve and bring them back to whoever is leading on her that day. So I guess I'm trying to ask how to get my labs head in the game? How to make him interested in bringing me the birds, because we trained at home where he would get treats occasionally when he brought the birds back, but he won't retrieve even with treats out in the field. Anything helps guys, thank you.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by gabes0331 View Post
            He's a 3/4 lab, and he loves swimming and will go get birds when he is alone, but the trouble is that almost never happens because we have his litter mate and another guy brings his dog along and my lab just wants to play. I have had success in getting him to keep his head by keeping him on a short ( like 2 ft) leash, but then he doesn't want to go and retrieve. I know it's not that he doesn't see them because we throw rocks and everything at them and he looks at them. He will go out and nose them if he can touch, and if he can't he'll go and bring them in to where he can touch and drop them to snuff then just leave them. His sister on the other hand was doing the same thing but this year we got her to go and retrieve and bring them back to whoever is leading on her that day. So I guess I'm trying to ask how to get my labs head in the game? How to make him interested in bringing me the birds, because we trained at home where he would get treats occasionally when he brought the birds back, but he won't retrieve even with treats out in the field. Anything helps guys, thank you.
            Work with him alone. Period. My soon to be five year-old Lab Ellie still has problems if I hunt her with the French Brittany. But if I hunt her alone, she is a five thousand dollar dog! Does it all: totally in control, works close, points, and retrieves. This year she was faultlessly retrieving everything (finally!) except geese in the field (fine with them in the water though). I think gradually Ellie will MAYBE become better hunting uplands with Coral, but maybe not. She wants to play and/or compete when with the other dogs. Then it is hard to keep them both in range. But hunt either one alone and WOW! Perhaps an e-collar would make the difference. But actually, it makes more sense to hunt them alone. That way I've always got a fresh dog to work with and not wearing them both out.

            I never use a lead in the field or during serious training. At most I'll use a healing stick. Dogs MUST learn to stay with you in the field. That is crucial obedience requirement for hunting dog. You'll encounter all kinds of dangerous stuff out there besides the usual nuisances like running deer, porcupines, skunks. When I blow the whistle and point to my side, they better be there pronto ... or else! They know the routine.

            Make your training missions one on one. No other dogs and no other handlers for your dogs. Train one dog at a time. No exceptions. Sounds like that may be the big difference between training with treats at home and in the field. Eliminate distractions. Hopefully you will be able to finally get the bugs worked out so the dog becomes mechanical. But you simply have had too many distractions. Example: Until this year if I worked with my young Lab and a goose wing, she would pick it up and run to the Brit to play (old Opal was a GREAT hunting dog but had absolutely no interest in working with training dummies or bird wings once she got onto real birds ... so she was not involved in training.) If I didn't work with Ellie alone when training it was a waste of time. This year I can hide a goose wing outside and let them both out. Puppy (Brit) may find it first but she defers to Ellie for retrieves. Now Ellie always brings it straight to me. The difference is that for previous two years I stopped trying to play the hide-and-seek game with both dogs and kept Puppy in the house. And using treats as a reward also made a difference with Ellie. She'd fly to the moon for a biscuit.

            I don't use e-collars so I can't advise if something like that might help. I'm thinking probably not. Would likely make the dog very much not enjoy training sessions. Negative reinforcement only works to curb dogs that really are into what they're doing. Shocking a dog is not an incentive and incentive is what you need at this point. Once he's in the right frame of mind and wants to be retrieving then maybe an e-collar would help fine tune. But you'll need to get advice from someone else on that.

            Does the dog live in the house with you? Sounds like maybe you haven't bonded that closely? But then Ellie has always lived in my house. Actually, she would live in my skin if it was possible. And she was still very slow to catch on. Definitely was a challenge. But boy was she worth it.

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