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#6890378 - 09/17/17 09:03 PM Need some advice on my lab
Cow_doc.308 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 2032
Loc: Ellis Co.
Little back story here. I lost my chocolate female back in the spring. I was looking for another dog and was approached by a friend of a vet colleague who knew of a 2-3 year old yellow male that a guy was looking for a home for. Was told the owner didn't have time to spend with the dog and was more focused on his GSPs. He was hunted last season and has had ducks, pigeons, and quail shot over him.

Anyway, I went to see the dog and he was scared to death. Way too freaked out to retrieve anything. I still think most of that time was a lack of socialization as a young dog or spending too much time outside in a small run without much work. My first instinct was to walk away but decided to give him a chance. That was in May. He was a wreck when I got him home. I don't have a outdoor run, my dogs stay in the house. He was again freaked out by the house, fenced backyard, you name it. He did seem to like going up to the park where he could run around and make some retrieves.

Fast forward to today and he's a new dog in the house. He likes to stay in, likes the backyard much better and is much less freaked out.

Now for the problems: He doesn't seem to have a lot of drive to retrieve. I know that can't really be taught but he'll pick up bumpers out of the water pretty consistantly, but has no desire to pick it up on the ground.

Took him out to the lease today and let him run. Took the shotgun along since I've yet to shoot over him. He hit panic mode as soon as I loaded the gun. I had him on leash or else I don't know where he would have stopped.

Got him settled down and took him to the lake sans shotgun. He made some good single retrieves but has the terrible habit of dropping it before he gets back to me, or possibly before he gets out of the water.

I've tried just throwing fun bumpers and tennis balls just to get him excited about it....not much improvement.

I'm far from a dog trainer so I'm open to any advice. He's a good dog and I hate to give up on him but I just don't know what to do with him.
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#6890481 - 09/17/17 11:13 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
nate33 Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/16/16
Posts: 412
my old trainer, Harlon Winters would take a new dog,,, take out a .22 rifle and shoot it,,, if the dog was gun shy Harlon would not take the dog to train. .

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#6890501 - 09/18/17 02:33 AM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
BradyBuck Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 5523
Loc: Abilene, TX
First off, kudos to you for giving this dog a chance and willing to put some time and effort into him.

I think for now you need to keep the retrieving part of this dogs training as fun and positive as possible. The dog really needs FF but might have to try a different route and certainly not at this time. Keep building his confidence and trust in you.

It sounds like this may take some time and patience on your part.

I would try to get him going on bumpers first but If you just can't get him going I woukd see if birds light a fire in him.

Check this little video series out about building retrieving desire. It can be done with an older dog as well.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nj5y3z7THH4

I would then focus on teaching "hold". Make sure his sit is solid so he won't move around on you. Place bumper in his mouth and make him hold it and praise till he starts to understand. If he drops it say "no" and put it back in his mouth. It may take many sessions but he should eventually get it.

You also need to teach the "here" command. Put a rope on him so you can make him come every time you give the command.

If you can teach "hold" and "here" you'll be on your way..,

So with this dog it sounds like you need to keep things positive and fun but once he learns what is expected you can keep your standards high.

I would implement an e-collar but personally with this dog I would try and use a Hillmann approach of using it.
It's very light and positive.

Check out his stuff on YouTube. I think your dog would be a good candidate for this style of training.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCEyAU4OEQsQAKJCildYrb9A


Now for the gun shyness issue.

If he gets excited about birds I would use this to your advantage. Get a wing clipped pigeon and toss it for him and have someone 50 yards or more away from you fire a .22 or something similar. Gradually move closer. Associate the gun with something fun is about to happen. Every time the gun come out he gets a bird.

If he won't get excited about birds then I'd be thinking he may just need to be pet. It would still be worth your time and effort IMO to obedience train him as well as retrieve.


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#6890659 - 09/18/17 08:11 AM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: BradyBuck]
Cochise Offline
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 09/20/08
Posts: 4022
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: BradyBuck



Now for the gun shyness issue.

If he gets excited about birds I would use this to your advantage. Get a wing clipped pigeon and toss it for him and have someone 50 yards or more away from you fire a .22 or something similar. Gradually move closer. Associate the gun with something fun is about to happen. Every time the gun come out he gets a bird.

If he won't get excited about birds then I'd be thinking he may just need to be pet. It would still be worth your time and effort IMO to obedience train him as well as retrieve.



I second the Hillman approach with this dog.

With that said - I wouldn't fire the gun the first few times giving the dog pigeons. Bring your shotgun and just load it. Let him associate the gun coming out and the sound of being loaded with fun. Then progress from there with firing the .22 (or just order some shotgun blanks..I personally like them better).....just my opinion given what you said about his aversion to even the gun being loaded in his presence. Also - I strongly suggest getting him around other dogs that are absolutely NOT gun shy. He will feed off their energy - and yours too for that matter.


Edited by Cochise (09/18/17 08:12 AM)

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#6891670 - 09/18/17 10:25 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
blackcoal Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 01/19/12
Posts: 9080
Loc: 60 Mi North of DFW
The dog panics when it sees/hears the gun or loading. During any of the summer storms did the dog react to thunder? Have you spoke to the previous owner to get any insight into the dogs behavior ?
_________________________
The Greatest Enemy of knowledge is not ignorance,
it is the illusion of knowledge.--Stephen Hawking

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#6891682 - 09/18/17 10:43 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: blackcoal]
Cow_doc.308 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 2032
Loc: Ellis Co.
Thanks for the replies fellas. Going on the search for some live birds tomorrow. I know where I can get some quail locally. Going to try to locate some pigeons too.

Originally Posted By: blackcoal
The dog panics when it sees/hears the gun or loading. During any of the summer storms did the dog react to thunder? Have you spoke to the previous owner to get any insight into the dogs behavior ?


He didn't seem to mind the storms. He seems to warm up to things that freak him out. Like being inside really freaked him out but he's adjusted pretty well now. Going to back up, get some blank rounds and kind of reintroduce everything and hope everything starts clicking for him again.
_________________________
www.kingvetservices.com

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#6892137 - 09/19/17 11:39 AM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
Bass&More Offline
Tracker

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 778
Loc: Jack County
Take him hunting and leave him "safe" in his crate where he can see you load and unload your gun, hunt and shoot with other dogs. At the end of the hunt let him out to socialize a few minutes then he goes back in the crate first before the other dogs. A couple of trips ought to bring him around if he is coming with least amount of your patience lost and hopefully your dog will overcome as he is trained and excited by the other dogs. best of luck.


Edited by Bass&More (09/19/17 11:41 AM)

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#6892140 - 09/19/17 11:45 AM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
TX_Diver Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 07/15/14
Posts: 303
If the dog's that gunshy a primer pistol may be a helpful tool also, or some of the shotgun blanks as mentioned above as that would also associate the visual recognition of a shotgun and loading of the gun with whatever fun activity you do. Sounds like you may have to establish a fun activity first though.

Sounds like it'll be a slow process but keep posting updates as you go.

Cheers

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#6892240 - 09/19/17 12:38 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Bass&More]
triggerbowtx Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 165
Originally Posted By: Bass&More
Take him hunting and leave him "safe" in his crate where he can see you load and unload your gun, hunt and shoot with other dogs. At the end of the hunt let him out to socialize a few minutes then he goes back in the crate first before the other dogs. A couple of trips ought to bring him around if he is coming with least amount of your patience lost and hopefully your dog will overcome as he is trained and excited by the other dogs. best of luck.


Don't do this. In theory it seems logical, but this is a terrible idea. I cringed reading it.

As stated above, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Follow BradyBucks advice above. Also, it appears you are in Ellis County. Go talk to Frank Baird at Mad River Kennels. He is a Field Trial pro and there is not a more knowledgeable dog person in North Texas. He is a true dog whisperer. If the dog can be fixed, Frank can do it.

At the end of the day, gun shyness and lack of drive might be the story for this dog, which is ok too. But I commend you for trying.

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#6896646 - 09/23/17 05:29 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
Cow_doc.308 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 2032
Loc: Ellis Co.
Update.

Bought some quail today. Broke a couple wings and pitched them. He'll chase them and catch them. Then shakes them to death. He will pick up dead bird on land and water. And bring them back. Sometimes to me sometimes elsewhere.

I'm encouraged that he does seem to like them. We can fix the retrieve to hand issue if he wants to retrieve.

I got some shotgun blanks but didn't get it out today. I'm just focusing on getting him excited.

Maybe the best news of all is I've got quail for dinner. cheers
_________________________
www.kingvetservices.com

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#6896892 - 09/23/17 09:51 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
BradyBuck Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 5523
Loc: Abilene, TX
Originally Posted By: Cow_doc.308
Update.

Bought some quail today. Broke a couple wings and pitched them. He'll chase them and catch them. Then shakes them to death. He will pick up dead bird on land and water. And bring them back. Sometimes to me sometimes elsewhere.

I'm encouraged that he does seem to like them. We can fix the retrieve to hand issue if he wants to retrieve.

I got some shotgun blanks but didn't get it out today. I'm just focusing on getting him excited.

Maybe the best news of all is I've got quail for dinner. cheers


I would be encouraged by the fact the he's got some prey drive. I think you hit the nail on the head. If he wants to chase birds you've got something to work with.

Good luck!

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#6898463 - 09/25/17 02:43 PM Re: Need some advice on my lab [Re: Cow_doc.308]
Smokey Bear Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 260
Loc: Texas
Cow Doc. In reading your posts it sounds like nothing has been done with the lab prior to you bringing it home. I would approach training like a new puppy.
One command at a time start teaching obedience. A reliable recall down the road is how you will get the bird and dog back to you. Go slow.

Cultivate the retrieving desire right now and set the dog up to succeed. If you play fetch with birds do it with a check cord so you can gently reel it in or better yet a hall way or alley way so the only place to go is back to you. When it gets back let it hold the bird a bit and love the dog up before you take it. When you do take it pitch it right back out. It's not so bad to give up if you get to go get it again. Cap it at 3-5 retrieves. Never let it get its fill. Slowly transition to bumpers as it learns the drill.

Introduce loud noises and transition to gunfire. Get two cooking pots. Feed the dog. While it is eating clang the pots. If the dog is comfortable get louder. When it is good with that go to a 2x4 slapped on concrete. You can get loud with this. Again while it eats. When it is ignoring this you can progress to a 410 at a distance pointed away from the dog. Again while it eats. Take as much time as it takes for the dog to adjust.

There is a lot more advanced training but the first step is to establish a solid foundation to build on. Being that the dog likes birds it should work out in the long run.
_________________________
Smokey Bear---Lone Star State.

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