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svttom01

Labs natural hunting instincts

15 posts in this topic

I got a black lab pup from a a friend of ours about a year and a half ago. They found him as a stray and could not care for him. He looks like a purebred lab and has many of the traits. We got him when he was probably 12 weeks old and soon thereafter I started casually throwing a small training dummy ever so often. I rarely did this, maybe four or five times for about ten minutes a time. I did nothing else with him. This past hunting season I brought him out to do some pheasant hunting for the first time and to my disbelief I had one "birdy" dog. He was finding the birds like crazy and retrieving them to my hand without me having to go to him; this is just like you see on tv or something with a professionally trained dog. I could not believe it. He has an incredible drive to hunt and retrieve, as well as marking birds and I have maybe done hour or so worths of training time in a year. I am baffled. This gives me great hope that maybe I might do some field trialing and things of that nature but does the dog have to be purebred with papers to compete? I have another lab that us 10 years ol and he seemed to take a much longer time to get the catch of things as a puppy. I am beginning to think I have myself one heck of a bargain, or is this pretty frequent? Do dogs really have these type of natural hunting insticts and know how everything works? Sorry about the long story, just wanted some insight. Thanks for any replies.

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I don't find your story hard to believe at all. Labs are very smart and very loyal, they will do anything the please their master. I am sure your dog is very smart but believe it or not, this is what a lab is suppose to be like. Natural retrieving ability is an innate trait in this breed. Unfortunately, because the lab is so popular (second most common sporting breed I think), it has been over breed and many dogs do not possess their innate ability to retrieve anymore. Your dog might have a good base right now but he is far from what you see on tv. There is a long ways to go. You need to teach hand signals (and whistle if you intend to use one) and blind retrieves which is often times the most difficult part for the dog. There is a ton more as well. However, because your dog appears to have a good sense of the hunt, he will catch on quick. Good luck and don't waaste this opportunity.

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In previous posts I've stated for a good hunting dog, training is 80% obedience and the rest is a refinement of their natural ability. It sounds like you have a good natural lab, so training will be a lot easier. I've seen the same scenario pan out more than once. Keep working with him from here and you will have a great working dog around for years to come.

As far as trialing... You have to clarify what you mean by trialing. Is your intent to run him in traditional trials, hunt tests, or competitve hunting tournaments? You can apply for a field trial number (FTN)with the AKC for non-registered dogs. I don't have my rule books with me, and I don't run into this question often, but you are limited as to which stakes you can enter and run. If he has not recieved formal training since puppyhood, it more or less excludes him from traditional trials. I've seen dogs that started training later in age still compete in hunt tests. He sounds like he's at a point where you'd be able to run Junior Hunter events. This involves single marks and minor obedience. The next step is a more finished retriever (Senior Hunter) it involves doubles, steadiness, blinds, etc., and above this is Master hunter, which is even more finished with triples, double blinds, honor etc. The upland hunting aspect in hunt tests, while there, is not as to the forefront as the testing of the retrieving skills, marking and control the dog possesses. The competive hunting tournaments sound more what he and you would be geared towards. It in essence is "timed" pheasant hunting. It is a team event where the dog must find and put up the birds and the handler has to shoot them (usually one shot per bird to stay in the running ) all in the minimum amount of time. I do not believe you need to have any registration papers for these events.

Good luck with your pup... sounds like you ended up with a gem in the rough.

Ken

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Labs-
Do you have any information as to when the next trials (of any type) will be in the central MN area. I have never been a big fan of many of these but they are very helpful in learning what others do with training regimens and it is also a good way to guage progress within our own dogs by comparing them to full trained dogs. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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Not having a dog competeing anymore (7 and 10 years old) I don't have exact dates... I know Central Minnesota Retriever club hosts a hunt test in mid-summer, duluth also has one mid-summer, the licensed trials are coming again in Sept I believe, I'll call a couple friends and try to get exact dates for you. I agree, it is an amazing thing to watch! You don't really need to be able to have a dog mark 200 yard triples when it comes to hunting, but they are just judging the best of the best. Just as you don't have to be Michael Jordan to enjoy a good game of 2 on 2. It does energize you to improve the level of your dog after atending these.

Good luck!

Ken

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I agree 100%...although I think I can take MJ! Thanks Labs, it is greatly appreciated!

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jlm: Here is the list of what is left for this years area License trials. July 9-11 at the Benton county trial grounds located 6 miles west on Hwy 95 off of Hwy 169 near Princeton. July 16-18 in Virginia,Mn. July 30 thru August 1st in St. Cloud. August 13-15 in Duluth. September 3-5 in Princeton. September 18-19 in Weaver, MN. If you need directions to any of these events let me know. Like Labs said these will be the best of the best competing against one another.

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Speaking along those lines, where can one find out info on the hunt trials?
I have my lab in school now, how much training does it take to get a dog ready for a trial?

Is there an age limit or a pro trained limit set up for them?

I want to get Mandy some type of tital if posible, I won't know until Tuesday when I go see the trainer about her to know if she has the ability to get one any way.

I got her pedegree yesterday, there are three MH titles and one AFC,FC,MH title in her lineage.Nothing real spectacular, but building block for future.

Benny

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Benny: Go to this site. www.working-retriever.com/calendar.html
when you get there click on American kennel hunt test trials it will give you a complete list of all the trials in the states. There is no limit on the amount of training done by you or a pro that will affect what you want to run at these trials. The Junior, Senior or Master stake is for the Amateur or the Pro trainer. If you want to put some sort of title on your dog this is the easiest way to go about it.

GOOD LUCK

jlm: If you go to this site click on the American kennel license trial and you will get the list of all those in the states as well.

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Hey, thanks a lot guys, I am hoping to make it to at least one of these, probably more! If anyone else is planning on attending, give me a heads up so I can look for you! Thanks again!

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jlm: I will have a dog in a trial every weekend starting on July 9-11 in Princeton thru Sept. 18-19 in Weaver. I will be running MN, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Like I said earlier if you need directions let me know and I will be happy to pass those along.

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duckbuster-
Hey, great, thanks for the help. I would be very interested in attending the trial in Princeton. That one looks like it will fit into my schedule well. I know how to get to the town but not to the trials. Directions would be great. Is there any rules about bringing video cameras? Again, thanks for the help!

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jlm: Go North on 169 up to Princeton, take the Hwy 95 exit and go left about 5-7 miles. You will start to see dog trucks and the like on the left side of the road and you are there.
I think camera's are fine as long as they do not make noise. Do not wear a white shirt though, you will understand the reasoning when you get there.
The trial is July 9-11, Friday thru Sunday. The best dogs and ALL the pro's will be running on Friday which is when the Open stake and Qualifying stake are run. The Open will finish on Saturday. You would be able to see the same dogs run on Saturday & Sunday in the Amateur stake if you can't make it on Friday. The Open, Amateur and Qualifying are all dogs that will have test's that will include multiple guns and blind work as well. The Derby stake will start Saturday morning after the completion of the Qualifying. This is the stake I will be running, it is for dogs under the age of 2.
I hope you can get there and enjoy what these beautiful dogs can do.

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Thanks DB, hope to see you there! Will you be running a dog?

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20 years ago my family presented me with a black lab puppy for Christmas. I named her Nellie and she was and probably will always be the absolute best dog I have/will ever own.
I have trained a couple of dogs but do not consider myself to be better then average when it comes to training a dog. But Nell was exceptional as a dog.
She was retreiving triple blinds at 6 months. I worked her with hand signals at 4 months. It took 15 seconds (that's right SECONDS) for her to learn to sit and stay. She continually amazed my hunting buddies and me with the length and difficultly of the retreives she made on ducks and geese. Her nose was second to none.
The only problem I had with her was the second time we went out she became gun shy. I tried everything but nothing worked so I bought a male black lab that loved to retreive a throwing dummy. My Nellie girl loved this game as well so I kept her in the kennel while I threw the dummy for Bay (the male). She whined and barked continuously. I took her out held her on a lease and threw the dummy for Bay to run out and retreive. When he was half way tot he dummy I let Nellie go and had my son fire a blank .22 at the same time. She stopped and coward down but when Bay came back you could tell she wanted that dummy. I tried it again and this time she just whinced but kept going after the dummy. My son kept firing the .22 blanks all the way to the dummy and back. Nellie came back with the dummy in her mouth and head held high. After that I never had any problems with her being gun shy.
Some dogs are born birdy whether they're pure breeds or not other never will be. All I know is there isn't a day goes by that I miss that dog, she was truly one of a kind.

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