Puppy Eating Dead Animals

MtnHuntin

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Hey all, I'm not sure if this is correct forum to post this in or if it should be in hunting with hounds, but seeing as my pup will be a waterfowl and upland hunter, I figured I'd toss it up here for some advice...

I have a 5 month old WPG that has been a joy to train so far. He's great with the basics, was easy to house train, and has got a nose that will help him find a piece of kibble in a hay field! The issue is that his nose will often lead him to find things that we don't necessarily want him to eat (dead birds, dead snakes, mice, etc.). It has now gotten to the point where when he finds them, he doesn't want to bring them to us because he knows we will take them from him. He doesn't run off, but either wont come right away or will try and eat them before we can pull them out of his mouth. Obviously I am encouraged that his drive is high, but I am wondering if anyone has any advice so he will not get sick. Will this come with time as he gets experience retrieving birds while hunting? Should he just stay on a leash or in a fenced area to avoid getting into the situations until his recall training is more reliable? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

JLS

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You need to:

1) separate recall from this situation
2) work on better recall if you’re not confident in it
3) teach him the “leave it” command

Walk him on a check cord by a dead critter. When he tries to pick it up give him a very stern command and pull him away from it. This might be a really good time to start introducing a shock collar.

When he finds a goody, and you call him to you so you can take it away you are 1) eroding his recall and 2) not achieving your goal of keeping him out of dead carp and shit like that. Has nothing to do with drive.
 

Nutrioso

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I have no expertise but some experience. I once pulled 80% of a ripe, dead snake carcass from my Lab pup’s gullet. He largely outgrew his desire to eat such tasty items and is a fine retriever now. I suspect your dog will grow out of it as well. Sometimes the more excited we get when they engage in some behavior we don’t want, the more they like doing it.
 

Hunting Wife

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@JLS is spot on. This needs to be 2 separate commands.

“Leave it” is so valuable. It’s really one of our most commonly used commands. Makes life so much easier. But I agree you are ruining your recall in this scenario. You may need to start back at square one there and work back up, but with e-collar introduction this time since he’s caught on now that you can’t enforce it.
 

mthillrunner

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We have a 6yo WPG. He did the same thing when young. He still does it to my wife if shes walking the neighborhood with him. He does it much less than when young. If he’s wearing the shock collar a tone alert is all it takes. He wears the collar for the tone alert it gives him, been a long time since he’s been shocked
 

MtnHuntin

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Thanks everyone for the advice and insight. We'll start working on "leave it" and keep working on recall. He's a smart pup so I have all the confidence in him! Just making sure I get it right is the hard part
 

duckhunt

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I hope you get the problem taken care of. My lab has no problem eating the most rotten stuff he can find and then pukes it up 10 minutes later. He seems to like it.
 

AlaskaHunter

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What is a WPG?

This "leave it" command is important because sooner or later pup will encounter
a porcupine, rattlesnake, fawn with mom, etc.
I teach it first using a long stick to swat the dog "verbal leave-it" with as he smells it,
repeat until the dog understands and responds
then later on re-enforce at greater distances with an ecollar.

An old adage "Do not teach with an ecollar" because
the message should be clear first and understood,
then re-enforce with the ecollar.
 
Last edited:

golfer

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Those of you who have a WPG at what age did you introduce the e-collar? I've been told they are super sensitive to them. I want to start using mine and just use the vibe/tone setting but have never had or used the e-collar before.
 

mthillrunner

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Ours was about a year old. Ours can be pig headed for a WPG. However, they are rather sensitive to discipline compared to the labs we’ve had. The WPG responds quickly to just the tone, very rarely is a shock needed. The labs didn’t respond to the tone as readily. The WPG requires a more gentle hand for sure in discipline.
 
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There are lots of techniques but a shock collar will give the fastest most positive results most times. If someone is worried about sensitivity you need to collar train a dog before you use it. That basically determines its tolerance and the setting at which it will respond. If it is “sensitive” it’ll respond at a lower setting. Not one dog is incapable of learning with one.
 

2ski

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Those of you who have a WPG at what age did you introduce the e-collar? I've been told they are super sensitive to them. I want to start using mine and just use the vibe/tone setting but have never had or used the e-collar before.
I take alot of the "a wpg is" stuff with a grain of salt. Yes there's things that a true but a lot that aren't. You pay for genetics, ideally, and with that should come a sound mind. So many bad breedings out there. It's one of the "it" dogs right now so people are breeding that maybe shouldn't be breeding and breeding dogs that shouldn't be bred. Look at coats for instance. You see a huge variation in length of coat. From short tight coats to dogs that have such long coats they looking like sheep dogs and lots of variations in between. Granted I only have a 15 week old puppy, put he definitely isn't "soft". So you're going to see different personalities too.
 

BirdManMike

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Have 10 year old WPG. Female. Never been soft. Ecollar has to be almost all the way up for response from it. Mine is willful, strong-headed, almost (not quite) like a german dog.

She eats crap CONSTANTLY. Dirt, roots, dead things, poop (not dog poop, but whatever she can find). Sometimes its hard to to catch with 'leave it'. Maybe just my training style, but I push them and cant see what they are doing all the time a few hundred yards away.

Shed roll in poop constantly, too, until she was magically 'cured' 4 or so years ago after rolling in extremely fresh cow patties and having to wear it all day.

Great hunter. Really reliable. Weve done well together.
 

OntarioHunter

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I have close working Labs and Fr Brit so it's less of a problem for me. I'm usually right there if they get into something. I use "Leave it alone!" (or "Drop it!" if they pick it up). The "alone" has a distinctive sound. They do what they're told or they will get swatted. This is one of those few discretions that requires immediate and severe consequences. Lab Ellie is now six and she'll still try to push the envelope once in a while when we stumble on a dead deer carcass.

I have never used e-collar but don't begrudge those that do. I have the luxury of spending months in the field with my dogs day after day. Guess I prefer them responding to me rather than some electronics that can/will break down. So I take the long way around. Ellie has a few annoying habits that I'm sure I could iron out with e-collar but they absolutely don't affect her hunting so I put up with it. She's just having fun.
 

BucksnDucks

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My experience is with retrievers but this is relatable. First off 5 months old is VERY young, this dog is just past being a toddler. Finding cool smelly things is a great adventure for the pup in his eyes. He will likely make bigger mistakes in the next year. If he is doing this while out on walks then the leave it command is right on and should not affect future hunting. If he is allowed a wide range at home then the problem is fixed by not letting him out for unsupervised adventures. If he does not come when called he may not have earned the off lead freedom. Keep up with the basics and don't get ahead of the training plan. Mastering sit stay and come, means come back now, no matter what cool thing you found. Finding and eating dead mice or getting it to all kinds of other trouble is what young dogs, just like young kids do. They should be supervised and if not supervised their freedom should be limited. I'm not a fan of E collars at this age, patience and a good training plan are superior. Enjoy the pup along with all the frustrations young dogs provide.
 
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Correction is correction, the mother, siblings, kennel mates, you verbally, or ecollar 5 months if trained to use is not too young
 

OntarioHunter

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My experience is with retrievers but this is relatable. First off 5 months old is VERY young, this dog is just past being a toddler. Finding cool smelly things is a great adventure for the pup in his eyes. He will likely make bigger mistakes in the next year. If he is doing this while out on walks then the leave it command is right on and should not affect future hunting. If he is allowed a wide range at home then the problem is fixed by not letting him out for unsupervised adventures. If he does not come when called he may not have earned the off lead freedom. Keep up with the basics and don't get ahead of the training plan. Mastering sit stay and come, means come back now, no matter what cool thing you found. Finding and eating dead mice or getting it to all kinds of other trouble is what young dogs, just like young kids do. They should be supervised and if not supervised their freedom should be limited. I'm not a fan of E collars at this age, patience and a good training plan are superior. Enjoy the pup along with all the frustrations young dogs provide.
Ditto to all the above. I would add that the "handler" who raises a pup in the home is light years ahead when it comes to basic obedience. A kenneled dog can still become a manageable hunter but it will take a lot more work ... and an e-collar for those handlers who don't have time for a lot more work.

My current Lab was an interesting challenge. Curiously, her prey drive has always been minimal. Hunting was mostly a socializing event for her. I cannot believe an e-collar would have done anything to help. Probably would have wrecked her. She wanted to play with the other dogs while they were working. The one thing she's always had going for her is her devotion to me. She's an ultra happy dog who wants others to be happy too. I just had to find a way to convey that her finding and retreiving birds is what would make me happy. Expressing displeasure or any physical discipline took the fun out of it for me which took the fun out of it for her. Didn't work. So for the first two years I kept her alongside me while the other two dogs worked uplands. She was happy enough with that. Then a unique situation eliminated Opal and Puppy for the day so I tried Ellie on her own. Wow! She pointed and retrieved a limit of roosters like a champion. One on one was all she needed. Sometimes I still work her with the Fr Brit (Lab Opal passed two years ago) but like the old days, Ellie still stays alongside me out of habit. A dog with serious prey drive would be difficult to keep back in that situation. Again, an e-collar won't put her to work casting when it's supposed to be instinctive. No point in messing with a good thing. Work with it rather than against it.

The point of this derailment is you should be prepared to think outside the box. Every dog has a different personality (as you can see from various posts to this thread). We can tell you what has worked for our specific dogs and breeds, but beware generalizations. You need to approach training your puppy with an open mind. It's an exploration of his/her mind ... as well as your own. Don't be locked into textbook perceptions of what a hunting dog is supposed to be and how you're supposed to achieve it. I am on my seventh dog now in fifty-five years of hunting. How many books have I read on the subject? Zero. Shape your dog and yourself to meet YOUR goal. Hopefully that goal is having fun watching the dog have fun. Putting a few birds in the freezer is just a bonus. If your goal is to make a field trial champ, good luck with that. No advice from me because showing off and competition is not why I'm in the field. But that's just me.
 

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