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Joe Overby

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By 8 years ago

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What importance do you guys place on training your retriever?

Several years ago, while on a duck hunt in Arkansas, I was approached by a nice, older gentleman @ the lodge. Being a professional retriever trainer, the conversation almost always turns to dogs and their subsequent training. The fellow told me rather proudly that training for his young (1 yr old) lab began in the morning. I was floored. Last year I was again on a hunt @ the same lodge and was again approached by a different gentleman making a similar statement....only, this one asked me what I thought. I paused for a second, trying to collect my thoughts and form my statements so as not to offend or drown him in technical jargon he wouldn't understand and stammered, Do you really wanna know??? We shared a drink and some great dialogue over the next hour or so and I told him that I WILL NOT take a dog, especially a young dog hunting until they are performing at a certain level. I told him that I feel there is just too much opportunity to teach bad habits regardless of the overall experience. I shared with him that I felt training one's dog really never stops. When I returned home I had a new outlook on my "gun dog" business. I have found that many, many hunters rely completely on on-the-job training for their 4-legged friends with no thought to preparation for the upcoming duck season during the off season. What do you guys think?? What importance do ya'll place on off-season training for your canine hunting buddy?? Do ya'll give any thought to conditioning your dogs to prepare for the rigors of the upcoming season?? If so, what do ya'll do to either prepare your dog physically, or to continue your training in the off season?? Finally, what importance do ya'll place on taking your dog hunting?? Is it a "deal breaker" if FIDO can't go or could you care less?? Would you rather have your buddy bring his dog or would you rather pick up your own ducks??

Comments

Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson

Lilly turned out good for me. She is not ready for trials by any means but we can go hunting together. She has found many grouse and antler sheds. I do take pride in the fact I taught her myself and she does all that I news her to do. I do look back and wish I would have want to a professional for help to get her to her full potential. Her obedience is great and I never had to force fetch her. She does have a few rabbits that I work with but will be trying to change. She is 2not is this too lat?
Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson

Lol can you tell Autocorrect is not always correct? I meant to say she has a few bad habits but she does all I need to do. She is 24 month's old is she "set in her ways?"
Joe Overby

Joe Overby

I don't ever believe it's "too late". While the old saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" no longer carries any weight it does become a bit more difficult as the dog ages. The dogs behavior becomes ingrained and ALL habits both good and bad become more difficult to alter. 24 months is not old at all, rather, I still consider dogs of this age puppies. Most are still rather immature until around the 3 yr old mark IN MY OPINION. Just remember, teach first, then correct. Good dogs never stop learning, good trainers never do either.
Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson

Thanks for the insight
John Jackson

John Jackson

I wonder about training. I owned a "Versatile Gun Dog" that I traveled to Idaho to get, a German Wire-haired Pointer. I got him with the intention of using him primarily for quail but discovered that he really was versatile. I realized, after taking him to a professional trainer, that the training was more about him learning manners and following some simple directions. That was the easy part for me. I could give a command or blow the whistle and he knew what to do. It was awesome. The hard part was teaching him to have a "tender mouth" when retrieving any birds. He'd maul them. Retrieving squirrels or rabbits was no issue, but something about feathers made him have a chew and swallow reflex. Took forever to break him of that.

As for taking him with me, I think it was more a matter of him being a companion and me wanting to be able to show him off when the time was appropriate. Young dogs never bothered me on a quail hunt but duck hunting from a blind or boat could be different. They have to be exposed to the sport and have "on the job" training at some point.

I want to hit the local humane society next and rescue a lab or lab-mix to train as a Shed Antler Retriever.
Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones

It seems like every duck hunter I know that has a duck dog thinks they have the best dog in the world until they check out a hunt test or field trial or actually try to run one.

I bought my first lab last year and she is now 16 months old. Training is too much fun to skip it!! We try and get out 5 days a week but I'm loving it. She is a little behind the norm as we are just finishing up swim-by. But I am not too worried about speeding through with her being my first dog.
Joe Overby

Joe Overby

Glad to hear you're enjoying the HT game. I honestly believe it makes our dogs better hunting partners. The concepts taught correctly, that help our dogs be successful HT competitors, do carry over into the duck blind and upland field. Enjoy the kool-aid my friend! Look me up if you ever get down this way. By the way, nice dog. I especially like your choice of colors!!
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