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How Do I Improve Desire to Retieve?
Last Post 01 Mar 2010 03:25 PM by Hillbilly. 5 Replies.
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cacklencrowUser is Offline Pheasant Egg Pheasant Egg Send Private Message Posts:23 cacklencrow
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25 Feb 2010 12:53 PM

    Hello Gents,

    I haven't posted in a long time but I have been browsing through occasionally.  I just got a new GSP a couple of weeks ago and he is about 7 mo old.  We are starting to bond and getting to know each other.  This pup was raised by an ex-guide turned bartender (retired) for a big lodge in East TX.  He had full access to the grounds and there were a bunch of pheasants and quail on the place that were left over from big pay hunts they had througout the season.  He did a good job exposing the litter to birds and this pup seems to move pretty well.  I do see a problem though.

    I can't get this pup excited to retreive.  I trained my first pup with a tennis ball and she was a natural but I did raise her form 10 weeks old.  This male just won't hardly pay attention to anything I throw.  He will sometimes run after a ball but when he gets to it he just noses it a little and runs off.  He did show a little desire when I took him up to a  farm with my two sons to do some pond fishing.  I figured he could run and stretch while we fish.  He went crazy over the fishing lures and bobbers and and actually jumped in the water and almost started swimming after a bobber that my son had just cast out.  After I saw that I went to get the ball out of my truck and threw it in the pond, right at the edge.  He went to get it but dropped it right at the edge of the water.  I threw it a few more times and he did the same thing.  I threw it on land and he will run over it but won't even pick it up.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to improve this pup's desire to retrieve?  It looks like I will have to force fetch but I don't think he's even a candidate for that unless I can get him to at least have a little more desire.  I've thought about getting a frozen bird to throw for him to see if that will get him excited.  What do you guys think?

     

    Brent

     

     

    freefallgspUser is Offline Pheasant Chick Pheasant Chick Send Private Message Posts:65 freefallgsp
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    25 Feb 2010 10:55 PM
    I would go with frozen... or better yet, fresh dead. Some dogs get more excited over something that still is pliable and can be somewhat "rough housed with" if it is loose. Granted, the last thing you want is a dog "shaking" the birds on the way back, but by making it fun for him, he will grow out of it... he's still young and needs some time to have fun.

    One thing I did for my second shorthair when he was younger (I had FF my oldest dog, and can honestly say he's a robot, but it was something I really didn't want to do), is I had someone stand by with a clump of grass/dirt mixture. Make it look like the area you will be working in... and toss it into some grass (taller the better, but not too tall, maybe only a few inches or so higher than normal) and send the dog in. When he's in there "searching" throw in that fresh dead/frozen bird... especially if it is something he loves to pick up and bring back. Do this for a while and see if it works. Your help will have to throw the clump, you send the dog, and after a few seconds of him "searching" for whatever it was that was tossed, toss in the bird when he isn't looking.

    Especially if he likes to retrieve a frozen/fresh dead bird, it will act as his reward for a very knowledgeable search and keeps his mind motivated. If this "game" doesn't work, I would say you might have no choice but to FF, sorry.

    Good luck with your pup! Let us know how it goes.

    Jessica
    Home Of:

    Suma Kiss of Kings MH


    Hunter's Ridge Sinking the Bismarck MH
    Get Your Free Pedigree Today!

    "A good bird dog is only as good as your aim, as the proof is always in the bag." - Unknown
    cacklencrowUser is Offline Pheasant Egg Pheasant Egg Send Private Message Posts:23 cacklencrow
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    26 Feb 2010 10:11 AM
    Another problem that I'm having to deal with is that there were dead quail scattered around the place where he was working this pup and the pup has found and eaten some of the dead quail while he was out working the dogs. They were turning out tons of pen raised quail all the time for hunts and 99% of the quail that didn't get found and shot by hunters would die off in a few days because they just don't have the survival instincts in them that the wild ones do. He said he tried to get the quail from the pup but he didn't have the pups on a lead while he was working them so if they found a quail they would usually run off with it and eat it.

    This is one reason why I was trying to work without the dead/frozen bird at first to see if I could get him minding me and retrieving better before I put him back on birds. That way when he does something like that and I try to call him back to me then at least I know that he knows what I want him to do so I can correct him and he understands. He is starting to come to me pretty well when I call him but I worry that if he gets a bird in the mouth he may not let me get it willingly.

    I guess I should probably put a lead on him and if he tries to run off with the frozen bird I can pull him back in? I've read a lot of contradicting things about FF. Some say the dog needs to be very obedient beore you start and others say if you are going to FF to go ahead and do it early that way they will learn to react to pressure and other training will be easier. What do you think?

    Brent
    freefallgspUser is Offline Pheasant Chick Pheasant Chick Send Private Message Posts:65 freefallgsp
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    01 Mar 2010 02:10 PM
    Well, on that note.
    If he's picking up birds to "eat them", I would say he is just being a puppy and actually doesn't care about having the feathers in his mouth. It is difficult to get puppies excited about picking up a bird or two and "mouth them" but "eating them" is too far. I'm surprised the first thing he didn't do is have that puppy on a check cord especially after finding the first dead bird to munch on. Just my thought that puppies should be on a check cord from day one until I can trust them not to bust in on a bird; be it with a launcher or on the ground loose.

    If he's not afraid to pick it up and "run off with it", then all I'd say you'd have to worry about is him coming back. Toss a bird out, have him on a cord, and let him go and get it. Reel him in and bring him to you while saying "Good dog, Good Boy!" Make it all very, very, very exciting. Most times people encourage the "good dog!" when he goes to get it and mouths at it. The thing that should be more exciting is having him know that he "did good" by bringing the bird back to you. Lots of petting and holding him, make sure his tail is wagging. DO NOT TAKE THE BIRD AWAY right away. Most people get in a rush when Fido brings the bird back and want to take it back right away from them.... this causes the dog to want to zip right passed you later down the road because what turned into "your bird" quickly turns into "my bird" in the dog's mind. The dog's reward is that bird and bringing it back to you means you are pleased with him for doing so. He's still a puppy, so I wouldn't rush FFing or anything of that matter until he's about 9-12 months old.

    I FF my oldest dog when he was 7 months old. I have also done a little competitive obedience with him too, which makes his retrieves a little more flawless when it comes to working in the field. He wasn't the most obedient dog when I did it, either. In fact, dead birds and him didn't get along, we understood what the collar was, and we loved to hunt. After 6 weeks of following the Schutzhund method of Ear Pinches (retrieving via my mom as the instructor, who raised Dobes when I was growing up for Obedience and Schutzhund), I had a (somewhat) dependable dog. It has taken him almost a year to get it right, making our final SH leg a perfect 10 on our retrieving. He is flawless for this Spring and fully anticipate a MH tacked on to him because of it. He will pick up just about any bird dropped for him, grouse, dove... pheasant. If it flew at one point, my boy will retrieve.

    However, doing what I suggested earlier brings me to my youngest dog, Bizzy, who doesn't handle the heavy handed nature of FF. He retrieves to hand every time because he knows him bringing it to me makes me "happy" and therefore his tail hasn't stopped wagging after I send him for the retrieve. Because of his training, he is also, a SH and running for MH this Spring.

    I would say do what makes you and (most importantly) the dog comfortable. Find a program and follow it, if you plan on FFing the pup: Don't take shortcuts. If you are happy with the dog dropping the bird at your feet, then you're fine. But wait a little more before using the FF... he's still young and should continue to have fun with birds; once the fun goes away (especially in pointing dogs) there's a chance that all you will have is a dog that resents his job and will refuse the bird.

    Jessica
    Home Of:

    Suma Kiss of Kings MH


    Hunter's Ridge Sinking the Bismarck MH
    Get Your Free Pedigree Today!

    "A good bird dog is only as good as your aim, as the proof is always in the bag." - Unknown
    cacklencrowUser is Offline Pheasant Egg Pheasant Egg Send Private Message Posts:23 cacklencrow
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    01 Mar 2010 02:21 PM
    Thanks for your input.

    Brent
    HillbillyUser is Offline Master Hunter Master Hunter Send Private Message Posts:706 Hillbilly
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    01 Mar 2010 03:25 PM
    FreeFall is right if the dog will pick them up and eat them it will retrieve them. Put the frozen birds in a sock and knot it. The smell is there but it will have a time eating the hole thing before you get to it. Break the pup to here with a check cord and then a collar this will help a lot getting the bird back. Use the cc when playing fetch and even better a hallway or make shift hallway with the doors closed this pup will retrieve it just might take a little work. Good Luck but I don't think you'll need it the pup will retrieve.
    Life's Short Play Hard
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