Dog questions...

JustEppic

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Ok everyone - I have an amazing lab, he is 1 years old now. How do i get him to follow scent (other than mine?) because i try to drag something then have him smell it, then tell him to "hunt it" (same thing i tell him to go get a bird i throw or anything) and he just follows me around instead... I took him out to get him on pheasant and he did jump two birds (not pheasants, i think they were quail) but i was mostly getting him excited and trying to see how he reacted if they went UP, he is a total spaz but works his ass off, so I know if I put in the work I can finish him off good, I just haven't done any training like this before. I dont really know what to do at this point. He has a soft mouth, he brings things back, sits them nicely at my feet, and lays down. He will lay down mid chase, (we practice on all sorts of critters) and will drop anything I tell him too on the way to me. Gun sounds do not scare him, and on our practice run for pheasants he ran great circles, (checking on me every single lap). He stays focused but also looks back to make sure we are in contact, and he recieves instruction well. I just dont know how to get him to scent, I have no idea how he will react when i pheasant flys so I do not know how to shoot over him yet, and I am not sure what else i should teach him. He is doing upland game, we wont be doing much waterfowl if at all.
 

JustEppic

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I thaw it out, then dragged it around, i take a few feathers off in my hand so he can smell those, and i put it hidden behind a tree or something like 10-20 yards away... real short.
 

JLS

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Just my opinion, so take it for what you paid for it.

First thing is to teach your dog to put his nose to the ground. It's a lab, so I'm assuming highly food driven. Take his breakfast and lay a trail of food through your yard or down the sidewalk until the serving is completely strung out in a trail. Put your dog on a lead, and that's how he gets that meal. As he starts to put it together, you can make the trail more sparse, and put a dish of food at the end of it. Keep him on a lead the entire time and make him work it out and not run a head.

When he's good at this, then take some pieces of hot dog. Drag your bird, and as you're dragging put a piece of hot dog about ever 3-6 feet. Do this with a lead on and if he gets off the trail and starts searching, just stand there and don't advance until he gets back on it.

You should fairly quickly (a few weeks of this) get to the point where you drag a bird, hide it, and give him the "track" command he should run out the trail and find the bird with his nose to the ground.

Ducks work well for this because of the oil and scent they leave. Might not hurt to just throw the bird for him some too to let him get excited about them.
 

cacklercrazy

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Just my opinion, so take it for what you paid for it.

First thing is to teach your dog to put his nose to the ground. It's a lab, so I'm assuming highly food driven. Take his breakfast and lay a trail of food through your yard or down the sidewalk until the serving is completely strung out in a trail. Put your dog on a lead, and that's how he gets that meal. As he starts to put it together, you can make the trail more sparse, and put a dish of food at the end of it. Keep him on a lead the entire time and make him work it out and not run a head.

When he's good at this, then take some pieces of hot dog. Drag your bird, and as you're dragging put a piece of hot dog about ever 3-6 feet. Do this with a lead on and if he gets off the trail and starts searching, just stand there and don't advance until he gets back on it.

You should fairly quickly (a few weeks of this) get to the point where you drag a bird, hide it, and give him the "track" command he should run out the trail and find the bird with his nose to the ground.

Ducks work well for this because of the oil and scent they leave. Might not hurt to just throw the bird for him some too to let him get excited about them.
My girl has a great nose,but her mother doesn't. Some dogs are visual oriented. I saw where a guy would throw out doubles and when the dog is getting #1 someone moves#2 , so the dog has to work for it. Also get wind right for this drill.
 

jejack26

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Montana
Best way is hunt wild birds it takes a while for most young dogs to have drive kick in. One my best didn't till he was two. If want to speed it up play fetch with game birds. I keep a couple in freezer for pups. Letting a pup watch a planted bird trail off helps . Occasionally I've had to resort to handling drill, but rare and in hindsight I was being inpatient. It's a rare lab from hunting stock that won't hunt. I had guy bring me a 5 year old that had never seen a bird, eventually hunted like a champ.
 

JustEppic

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ok so all of that makes sense thank you! What would you do about shooter fear? So I lost my PTSD dog to cancer, and this is kind of his replacement, he already feeds off my ptsd and is fucking amazing at it, he also is very driven to please me and really gets on birds when we are just messing around- he will chase a rabbit but we own one so I keep him off them, when he brought me our pet, I was like...oh no. (she was fine, just PISSED- THAT is how soft his mouth is), so how do I work out my fear of shooting over him, without knowing what he is going to do, cause that first flyer, I dont know if I can keep MYSELF off of it, because i want him to be successful LOL... I know with him being 2 next season, we will get on grouse and pheasant as much as we can...it will help work out the kinks.
 

JLS

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Start with 22 blanks while you’re throwing a dummy for him. Gradually transition to shotgun blanks. Lots of articles on gun conditioning.
 

jejack26

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ok so all of that makes sense thank you! What would you do about shooter fear? So I lost my PTSD dog to cancer, and this is kind of his replacement, he already feeds off my ptsd and is fucking amazing at it, he also is very driven to please me and really gets on birds when we are just messing around- he will chase a rabbit but we own one so I keep him off them, when he brought me our pet, I was like...oh no. (she was fine, just PISSED- THAT is how soft his mouth is), so how do I work out my fear of shooting over him, without knowing what he is going to do, cause that first flyer, I dont know if I can keep MYSELF off of it, because i want him to be successful LOL... I know with him being 2 next season, we will get on grouse and pheasant as much as we can...it will help work out the kinks.
I still have same fear with my dogs. I try to not shoot unless I have blue sky around bird
Steady to flush is worthwhile but on roosters it just to more lost birds. Every hunt I assume the dog is going do the worst and set my shot accordingly. If in doubt I let the bird go. Hunting with a bell on the dog help's stay aware in split second where the dog is, but collars can create another problem. I came very close to losing a dog when he got hung up by a branch. I keep collars really tight and never use when waterfowl hunting. Just my opinion
 

BucksnDucks

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I've trained 5 labs for waterfowl and upland. The best advice I can give is read a book like Wolter's "game dog" or watch some videos to pick a training method and stick to it. I believe there are steps that need to be accomplished before moving on to the next skill. Learn to sit before stay etc....Some labs are better than others but I've never seen one that doesn't like smelling and chasing birds. From my experience getting the dog to not bust wild is a lot harder than getting them excited about smelling birds. Enjoy your hunting partner and the two of you will learn a lot from each other.
To answer the original question -there are techniques like using a shackled live bird at night. Get dog excited, let bird run off while dog is watching then quickly shine light on dog's eyes forcing to track without sight.
 

OntarioHunter

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My current Lab was something of a late bloomer but turns out it was because I started her behind my other Lab and Fr Britt. She needed to work alone to get sorted out. Very strange. Having said that, I'm wondering if it might be helpful to work your dog with another accomplished Lab a time or two. Just let them go and the youngster will probably get the scent tracking picture quickly. Also, if shotgun noise freaks it out, it's less likely to panic if the other dog doesn't. Mimicry. Then go work the pup solo.
 

406LIFE

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It would be worth your time to visit a trainer and get on a program. Each step builds off the last, and you are asking a question that is ~7th grade, and I don't know how he did in 6th grade (ie basic obedience, marking, etc.)

It's also worth digging into what a retriever's role is in upland and what to expect.
 

JustEppic

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Thank you guys, lots of good info and I can clarify some stuff here for some other "probing" comments I guess.

Clarification one - some of you got it, and it is mostly because I am not the best at being clear when I speak/type. The shooting is ME, the dog has no gun issues, he has been coming to the range and lays beside me all day, doesn't even flinch anymore, he is fine, I am worried about shooting OVER him meaning, is he going to jump up at the bird while it flushes, and I am going to shoot him, or something along those lines, I have only hunted pheasant a few times so I am weighing my novice in that as well and I do not want to train up an amazing dog who makes a little mistake and then dies because I make a big one. One idea was to put a bell on him, I thought about using a jacket with blaze orange because he does disappear, I might try the bell but like one of the other guys said, I don't use a collars (except for the training collar) because i dont want him to get caught up in a fence or brush and get hurt (or worse).

Clarification two - Where he is at in training, I have trained MANY dogs in obedience, and he crushed it. He has been in a down at my feet for the last 15 minutes, he wont get up unless I do, or I release him. He sits, stays, lays, gets off, fetches, retrieves, drops (there is a difference between me throwing something, and me telling him to go get something), walks at my hip, then he does some ptsd stuff and bracing (that is something that a dog does for someone with injuries such as myself that helps me get back up if I fall, he isn't amazing at it, because he would rather lick my face when I am down, but he is one), and he will go get help (search for mom).

I really appreciate you guys piping in, every word means something to me, it really does, you have experience where I do not, so when you say something I really take it in, even if you may have misunderstood what I said, because in THAT, I can learn something. Thank you for the time. I cant wait to show you guys pictures of what we do together. I figured here is a good time to show you a picture of Dublin.
Snapseed.jpg
 

JLS

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IME, when hunting pheasants it's pretty rare to have a situation where your dog might be at risk. If there's any doubt, don't shoot. I pass on shots occasionally where I'm concerned about the dog. Most of the cover you're hunting pheasants in will force them to fly upward when they flush anyway. CRP is the one exception.
 

Walkathon

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Start with 22 blanks while you’re throwing a dummy for him. Gradually transition to shotgun blanks. Lots of articles on gun conditioning.
I don't know much about formal dog training- but- above is what I did to get both of my GSP's acclimated to gun noise, and it worked great. Neither has ever shown any gun shyness.
 

mtmiller

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Gun training last summer entailed taking the pup to the trap range. I believe we went 3 times. Started out 50-60 yards away and slowly worked our way to 10 yards behind shooters.

I was shooting doves over him at 3mo 20 days.

Crowbar pic.
50903657982_6e1862c640_4k.jpg
 

Elmacho

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Ok. quick breakdown. Forgive me if redundant, I didnt read the whole damn thread.
You need to build prey drive in the dog....shoot pigeons as marks for his retrieves, 2-3 birds a couple times a week. If he has prey drive and is bringing you birds, great...your half way there.
Once that game is solid, pepper a field with a few dead pigeons and work his quartering...he will start to "seek" pigeons. Hopefully he picks them up and brings them to you....if not---needs force fetch training.
Your 'clarification two" says he is different when retreiving thrown object vs telling him to go get something....now you need to read on force fetching and blind retrieves. Thats th best way to get your desired outcome.

There is another book by DL Wolters...forgot the name....but it guides ya through complete handling --to a competitive level. Take what you want from the book and use it for your hunting needs. if you put that work in, the dog will go where and when you tell him to and deliver birds to your hand.

Kinda like building a sandwich....put the layers in the right order, you have a sandwich, throw them in a pile....you have a mess...
 

OntarioHunter

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This pup is on the way in the right direction given the progress you have made with obedience. Don't worry about shooting over him if he's fine with all the shooting at the range. My late Lab Opal was fine with being shot over in the field but did not care for the noise at the range. Didn't spook her but she clearly did not like it. Wouldn't get out of the vehicle with the other dogs to have a romp after the shooting was done.

I think the prey drive issue is a minor glitch that will resolve itself once you get the dog in the field. One thing you can try is putting up a bird feeder where the dog can see it and make a game of "stalking" the birds that come to it. If you get excited (or in this case fake getting excited), your obviously devoted pup will want to join in on the fun. "Hey, there must be something to this." A mimicry of sorts. Might be worth a try. Definitely would be fun for both of you. I "stalk" birds we see during walks in town on leash. Helps break the boredom. Crows are sometimes mehh but they always get wound up over pigeons on the street! And Puppy (Fr Britt) is nuts about tweeties in hedges. Feels she needs to check out every bush we encounter. I guess she thinks it's Montana wind row habitat. Don't worry about putting the pup on the wrong kind of birds. Once they have retrieved a chicken like bird, they know what your after in the field. Puppy will point sparrows all day under the bird feeder but doesn't give them a glance when we're hunting.

Don't worry too much about hitting your Lab when it flushes a pheasant. First, you obviously are not going to have trick shooter lightning fast reflexes. Second, you must identify the sex before firing. For that reason even experienced pheasant hunters get in the habit of hesitating before shooting, even if the rooster is squawking. In all my years of hunting pheasants I only had one situation that was remotely dangerous for the dog. I was hunting against a canal embankment when a rooster flushed next to me and flew over the top. Pearl was climbing the embankment as I shot. I still hunt that area every year but now ALWAYS make sure I stay on top. It's a very unique situation that's easily avoided. NEVER approach a dog on point or one that's birdy with gun shouldered. You see this occasionally on some idiot's YouTube video. Anyone does that around your dog, send them back to the car! Bottom line: If you are walking with gun safely at ready position, in a normal situation you should be no danger to your dog by the time you have identified and ready to shoot at a rooster.
 
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