Dog Training Help

Slick

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Jan 29, 2013
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Siskiyou Siskime
I have a 4 year old GWP/Lab mix... I come from ND and bird hunted ~3 days a week the entire season (waterfowl/upland). I moved to MT 4 years ago when the dog was just a pup and focused on hiking, backpacking, picking up fly fishing, hunting elk, deer etc. This is my first dog, and never had them growing up.

In that time I neglected to provide any sort of field training for the pooch. He is obedient to a certain degree- all his weakness's are because of my training faults.

I have recently had an interest in chasing birds again, but now in Big Sky country. My goal is this: to hunt with my dog next fall.

First off- he will sit, stay, heel, and come. When he has a bit of space from me, he will more often than not ignore the come command. If i spin 180* he will be by my side in an instant.
Do I purchase a check cord and retrain the come command?

2nd- He has a good nose, but is just using it for the wrong things- mice. The dog loves mousing and has a good intensity about it. I was kicking around the idea of buying some pigeons, and hopefully getting him more interested in birds, rather than rodents. I was thinking along the lines of locking the pigeons wings, and keeping the dog on a check cord and letting him get fired up about birds and gradually moving up to either pointing/flushing them (he'll do both) and then retrieve.

He doesn't mind gun shots..or at least isn't scared of them..and he doesn't mind feathers. I've thrown some dead pigeons for him in the past to retrieve.

3rd- his retrieve.. He has a strong desire to chase down whatever I throw, but then wants to keep it for himself. How do i retrain that and have him bring it to "share" with me?

I'm open to any and all recommendations. I see the potential he has I just don't know how best to bring it out of him. Hope its not too late.
 

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TheDudeAbides

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I have a 4 year old GWP/Lab mix... I come from ND and bird hunted ~3 days a week the entire season (waterfowl/upland). I moved to MT 4 years ago when the dog was just a pup and focused on hiking, backpacking, picking up fly fishing, hunting elk, deer etc. This is my first dog, and never had them growing up.

In that time I neglected to provide any sort of field training for the pooch. He is obedient to a certain degree- all his weakness's are because of my training faults.

I have recently had an interest in chasing birds again, but now in Big Sky country. My goal is this: to hunt with my dog next fall.

First off- he will sit, stay, heel, and come. When he has a bit of space from me, he will more often than not ignore the come command. If i spin 180* he will be by my side in an instant.
Do I purchase a check cord and retrain the come command?

2nd- He has a good nose, but is just using it for the wrong things- mice. The dog loves mousing and has a good intensity about it. I was kicking around the idea of buying some pigeons, and hopefully getting him more interested in birds, rather than rodents. I was thinking along the lines of locking the pigeons wings, and keeping the dog on a check cord and letting him get fired up about birds and gradually moving up to either pointing/flushing them (he'll do both) and then retrieve.

He doesn't mind gun shots..or at least isn't scared of them..and he doesn't mind feathers. I've thrown some dead pigeons for him in the past to retrieve.

3rd- his retrieve.. He has a strong desire to chase down whatever I throw, but then wants to keep it for himself. How do i retrain that and have him bring it to "share" with me?

I'm open to any and all recommendations. I see the potential he has I just don't know how best to bring it out of him. Hope its not too late.

It's never too late.

This is what I would recommend. If there are training days at bird clubs in your area, take your dog to a day camp. Talk to professional dog handlers and ask them questions. They have seen all types of dogs with all types of personalities and will know what is the best route of training to your dog.


1st - E-collar conditioning. There are a lot of books and videos on the subject and it would be best to obtain as much information as possible to before attempting to do it yourself.

2nd - Bird Introduction. Buy a pheasant or chukar and remove the flight feathers and let the dog chase it in the field or a back yard without catching it on a lead. It is a good technique for puppies, but would probably work for an older dog - though it may be harder to keep the older dog from catching the bird. Next, place the bird in a live trap and hide the trap out of sight in a field. On the lead quarter the dog until it smells the bird in the trap and finds the bird. Repeat this step a few times a day and repeat on a monthly basis. You can use pigeons or chukars or pheasants depending on the availability of birds. As far as pointing or flushing, choose one and train the dog to what you want. This is where I would seek advice from a professional on how to effectively train the dog either way.

3rd - Force Fetch. This is another one where you need to be informed on what you are doing, but is a very controversial - yet effective method of training your dog to fetch on command. A properly trained force fetched dog will fetch anything you set it after. I use the shotgun shell and ear method for force fetching, but I would recommend advising a professional.
 

teej89

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Invest in the Mike Lardy TRT DVDs, and follow his program. Start from the beginning with heel and all that even if you think he knows it, doesn't hurt to reiterate. Then you'll go thru collar condition and force fetch then after that you get into handling. Fairly easy to follow, FF takes a good amount of time.

As said above, find a dog club and see if you can join in on their training days.
 

maxx

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Jul 31, 2015
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717
You need to enforce the Here command, that will clean up 1 and 3. Several ways to do this but he already knows the command so the best is to use an ecollar.

Lardy's stuff is good but expensive. I like Evan Grahams stuff, they all are from the same foundation. His ecollar to here is the best. Note get a collar and have the dog wear it for a week or so before you ever use it. I would have him wearing it around the house and such. Do some simple OB work on a leash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG_ZBYmzlq0

I would get #1 worked out first. Then I would get the dog on birds birds and more birds. Game farm isn't a bad way to go on this.

You are skipping a bunch of steps but I think with the older dog I would be ok with this.
 

whiskeydog

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Billings, MT
Lardy is definitely an excellent source and I'm sure you'd pick up a lot there, although most training plans are geared toward pups and not adult dogs who have developed bad habits. One idea you may consider... 1) get a length of rope about 25+ yards long and tie it to your dog. 2) hold on to the other end. 3) toss something for you dog to retrieve. 4) once he picks it up, start saying, "here, here, here, here..." while reeling him in. 5) take the object from him and give huge praises. 6) repeat until he comes back without having to be reeled in. keep it fun!...don't do it for more than 5 minutes at a time a few times a day...shouldn't take more than a few days to get him coming straight back to you!
 

Slick

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Siskiyou Siskime
Thanks guys!
I'll definitely be getting my hands on an E-collar, although it might be awhile as I would like to know how to effectively and properly use one as a training tool and not a punishment tool. I've already screwed up things enough. I can't decide between Lardy vs. Graham... Does anyone have a book they recommend instead of DVDs/DVD series?

I've also looked into gun/dog clubs near by. Bozeman has one called the Missouri Headwaters Retriever/Spaniel/Pointer Club and it just so happens I'll be able to talk to the person in charge of the retriever portion this week. Hopefully I can get on board with those guys.

I took him to the dog park today with ~25 yds of rope..and would let him run, and practiced as the youtube video showed. If he came back especially excited and quick he got a snippet of a treat and loads of praise. I also used the command "here" instead of "come" (which Ive used in the past). I think this helped as he didn't hear the word "come", which could have a negative association.
 

Hunting Wife

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Almost North Dakota, not quite Canada
I've also looked into gun/dog clubs near by. Bozeman has one called the Missouri Headwaters Retriever/Spaniel/Pointer Club and it just so happens I'll be able to talk to the person in charge of the retriever portion this week. Hopefully I can get on board with those guys.

If you don't live in super birdy country, a club is a great way to get dogs on birds often. However, be forewarned. We have a friend who was a member there. There are quite a few big money guys with big money dogs, so be prepared for some degree of grief over your "mutt". Some of the dog snobbery in certain circles just blows my mind. Try to seek out the real dog people, if you know what I mean.

Might try hanging out at Logan on skeet night. There used to be some dog guys that frequented there as well.
 

Frenchy

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Bozeman, MT
Slick,

I've been very active in the Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club for the past 7 years or so. I would definitely recommend you join the group, and get on their training e-mail list. I have not had a dog for the last two years, so I'm not sure what kind of organized training days they have going currently. I do know that they hold an Upland event every spring (near easter time), and usually train for that leading up for the event.

While I do agree with Hunting Wife that the "organized" dog world can be filled with all kinds of big money guys with big money dogs, I don't think you would get any grief from the MHGDC guys over showing up with a "Mutt". There is room for everyone at these training days. The extents that some of the more committed trainers go to to train their dogs though is pretty intense, and that has a tendency to intimidate the average Joe that just wants a hunting dog. The thing to remember when training a dog, is that you don't really teach them to "Hunt" at training days. You teach them Teamwork, trust and Obedience.

With that said, I've got a bunch of Videos and books I'd be willing to loan you as long as you are the kind of guy that would actually return them. I've got a pup coming at the end of summer, so I'll need them back before then. That includes the Lardy videos, and some of the Graham videos and books. They are good to own for repeated viewing, but they can be expensive.

Check Cords are good, but every dog I own will be collar conditioned. They are a great tool when used properly. But at the same time, I've seen dogs have very bad reactions to the e-collar when the owner misused it or didn't know how to properly use it.

Joining us for a few training days this spring would be a good place to start with the upland training and exposing the dog to birds.

For the retrieve, that comes by just consistently working with your dog. Building that trust, teamwork, and obedience. In my opinion, the best quality of good bird dog is obedience. Not just good manners obedience, but rock solid does what their told obedience. If you don't have control of your dog, it doesn't matter how good of a noise they have or how natural of a hunter they are.
 

Slick

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Siskiyou Siskime
Thanks Hunting Wife and Frenchy,

I understand the mutt thing, it doesn't bother me though. My next dog will be from a breeder.. I've seen some of this at the dog parks in Bozeman. It might be the owner was sick of being asked if their Griffon was a GWP. Oh well, no harm no foul. Some people are just very passionate about their breeds.

Frenchy, I am going to track Greg Johnson down on campus this week and chat with him a bit, if he has a minute or two. I fully plan on joining the group. I also really appreciate the offer to borrow a book or DVD and will take you up on the offer. I wouldn't swipe them from you and not return them. I'll shoot you a PM.

We work on obedience everyday and its slowly getting better. He still thinks its a punishment to come to me. It's like he's almost saying, "You're not as interesting as what I had my nose in...Do I really have to?" sort of thing. I do think a properly used e-collar would fix this. It'll just take time.
 

JLS

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Don't be afraid to use lots of treats periodically to reinforce the "come" command. Nothing wrong with giving him one every time he comes to you when you call, and then back off to doing it randomly here and there. I'd do this prior to using the e-collar.

I wouldn't worry about him chasing mice and crap right now. Get him out in the field and he will learn that birds get him good rewards, mice get him ignored. No need to make a big deal out of it or anything, if my dog is jacking around with mice, squirrels, dickey birds I just call him to get his attention and keep walking.

I would definitely do the force fetch training based on what you've described. When you're done, "Fetch" has a whole new meaning to your dog. It means go find it, pick it up, bring it to me, and don't drop it until I take it from you. Anything else is unacceptable and gets an abrupt "fetch" command followed by a nick from the e-collar if the point isn't driven home. When you're in a covey of birds, the last thing you want to be doing is screwing around with a dog trying to get the dead bird while other are running, flushing, etc.
 

ericsplls

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Jul 6, 2013
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Georgia
You have received good advice all the way around. He is not too old. I would get one of the recommended
DVD sets and start at the beginning. I wouldn't skip anything but you can move through some of the lessons a little quicker on an older dog to keep him challenged. If you do the force fetch study it well and know it before you start. Don't rush through that part and expect problems. Problems in force fetch are good because if the dog doesn't fight the training and give in at some point you really haven't forced anything. I'm not sure what your schedule looks like but for me steps like force fetching a dog are something I have to plan ahead for. I try to start it on the first day of a four day weekend. It seems to go a lot smoother then. Otherwise I wind up starting on a Saturday then having to get up early for work the first few days so I can get a training session in then running home at lunch for another session. Then rushing home in the evening for another session so the dog can get some play time and relax before getting another session in before I go to bed. A couple days of that and I start asking myself why I didn't send the dog to a trainer. When you get done it's rewarding and worth it. Plus if you do it yourself you won't have to look far for someone to blame when things go wrong.
 

KY Swamp Beagler

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Swamps of Western KY
I'm no retriever trainer, so I won't say much. The e-collar is a great tool. And that's all it is - don't use it as a crutch. You can sure screw a dog up quick if you don't know what you're doing. And since I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to retrievers that's all I'll say on that:)

Are you familiar with the Hunting Dog Podcast? There is a lot of good advice on training on that podcast. Ron frequently has different trainers on and they answer Facebook questions from the audience.

Good luck and remember Rome wasn't built in a day. Training is a process for both dog and man. It takes time. Below are my notes from the Rick Smith podcast. I hope you find something helpful.

Rick Smith
-Expectations-frustration-anger
-always comes in that order
-forget about expectations, just say I'm going to get done what I can get done today
-association and repetition, keep showing them until they buy into it
-train without finger prints
-watching a dog do it [hunt] because he has to do it and watching a dog do it because he wants to do it is two different dogs.
-association - repetition
-ecollar doesn't teach them anything it just ques them - in reference to recall
 

jrnorton4

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Sep 29, 2015
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As far as a book, I read and used Wolters' Gun Dog. Everybody thinks its a little dated, but the dog doesn't seem to realize that.
 
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