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RAJ

Lab won't pick up birds...

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RAJ

I got a problem...

I have a 2 year old lab and I just took him duck hunting for the first time. He's been pheasant hunting and does good getting birds up, but I haven't shot one yet.

Well, I shot a few ducks last weekend and he won't pick the ducks up!! He minds great and will start to retrieve, but just shiffs the birds. Last year I clipped wings and used them for training and he went nuts.

Any suggestions on what to do?

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setterguy

Force fetch is the only way to consistently get a dog to retrieve. Right now your dog is making a decision not to retrieve that bird. Force Fetching takes the decision making process and gives it to you, not the dog. Good luck.

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Ufatz

Patience. Shoot another duck and then work with the dog, using that duck for a while. Save the wings, as you did before. Get him all wound up and excited. Keep at it. I'll bet he comes around. The light bulb will go off in the big hard head and then he'll be ready to GO every morning!! In a lot of years and quite a few Labs I've never had to force one to pick up a dead bird or to go in the water eagerly. Maybe I've just always had good dogs to start with or just been lucky.

Patience. Outlast that rascal and show him who's smarter!

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RAJ

Thanks for the info. I'm sure he'll come around.

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BLACKJACK

As Ufatz said, if hes excited about wings, then he'll get excited about birds, he just hasn't been exposed to them. Force fetch is an option, but at this point you want to hunt with him, so get him excited, throw the dummy with wings on it, then throw a dead bird, make it easy the first time, get him excited and really praise him when he brings it back. Maybe even save that next duck you shoot, keep it in the frig and have a few training sessions. If he likes the wings, he'll come around. You really need to work hard on this so that when you drop a duck or pheasant in the grass and he finds it, you may be out of sight, you want him to bring it to you.

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magnum165

RAJ,I HAVE A 3 1/2 YEAR OLD LAB THAT I GOT ABOUT A MONTH AGO AND I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM.YESTERDAY,WE SHOT A BIG DRAKE MALLARD AND SHE GOT REALLY FIRED UP AND WANTED TO GO,SO I SENT HER AND SHE SWAM OUT AND SNIFFED THE BIRD AND CAME BACK.THIS IS A BIG IMPROVEMENT FROM EARLIER ATTEMPS AND I BELIEVE SHE WILL ALSO COME ALONG IN TIME.I HAVE DONE ALL THE THINGS LIKE HER RETRIEVING WINGS,DUMMY WITH WINGS.WHOLE BIRD IN BACK YARD.IT SEEMS BEST TO GET THEM VERY FIRED UP AND THEY WILL DO IT.LIKE YOU SAY SHE WORKS GREAT ON DUMMIES AND IS VERY WELL BEHAVED AND SEEMS PROUD TO BRING BIRDS BACK IN YARD.I THINK MY PROBLEM IS THE PREVIOUS OWNER HAD CHICKENS AND DIDN'T WANT HER TO TOUCH THEM.THEY JUST NEED TO LEARN THAT ITS OK TO FETCH GAME AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.LABS ALWAYS ARE WILLING TO PLEASE!!!GOOD LUCK AND KEEP ON TRYING.

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verg

I'm training a 7 month old lab now as well. Have duck hunted him a few times. He retrieves on water but is shakey on land. I took a one of the ducks i shot and used it in the yard. I have one of those dokken duck dummies (any dummy may work) and threw it 5-6 times in a row. He loves to retrieve. Then, the 5th time-when he brought it back i switched it with a real duck behind my back and threw that. He took off after it. When he got there, he sniffed it for a minute. I kept coaxing him-he finally picked it up and brought it. I do this often to get him used to it. It's not perfect but he's gets better all the time. Experience is the key. Make training and hunting fun for the dog and make sure he knows what is expected and what you want. He'll come along in time. It may take a season or two but he'll make you happy if you keep working him.

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2 DA GILLS

My dog would not touch a duck last season (10 months old). Completed the force fetch training this summer and he retrieved every duck this past weekend. He sniffed the first few, but a firm "fetch" command and he grab them and returned to the boat. It makes all the difference in the world. Some dogs come around on their own, but teaching fetch as command makes a huge difference. It is not an option.

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gundy89

My lab is a year and a half now and got out duck hunting for the first time last weekend. Had her pheasant hunting last year and she did really well getting birds up and finding dropped birds, but didn't want to pick them up. I just kept working the retrieving, which she loves. This weekend. She retrieved every bird in the water and all of them that fell on land. We shot 14 birds in two days. I haven't forced fetched yet. I worked a lot this summer with wings tied onto a dummy and had a frozen pheasant that I worked retrieves with. At first, she didn't want to pick it up, but eventually, she came around. Hope it helps a little. It's my first dog, but we've spent a ton of time together.

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JPowell

force fetch is the best thing. he might not like it...but he knows he needs to pick it up and bring it back.

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KOTTKE

I don't think any lab should be forced, its in there blood to please you, I think that maybe people need to work with there dogs thruout the season, rather than the weekend befor opener. I've had labs as young as 5 months retrieve ducks, granted not the best retieve but she swam out on her own and brought that green head back to me.I don't know who was more excited her or me.

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IRISHSOBNO4

i had to do the same thing with my lab that ufatz suggested

i lost my duck dog this year and have to use my pointing lab that has never duck hunted, it worked in a few minuts of throwing the duck out into the pond. now i have to get her to settle down in the blind.

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Blaze

I can't believe what I'm reading here. confused.gif Amen to seabass, gills, and setterguy. The ONLY option to make sure your dog retrieves 99%+ is to FF the dog.

I'm sure the next 30 replies will all be about how "I didn't have to FF my dog because he's a natural retriever and blah blah blah" or "force fetching a dog is cruel and unncessary and blah blah blah". Truth is, when done CORRECTLY, force fetch will bond you and your dog closer than ever and the expectations are set that no matter what you tell the dog to pick up, he will do it and do it NOW. You owe it to the game which you are hunting to make sure your dog is a reliable retriever. Next time you drop 2-3 late season mallards in 30-something degree weather and your "natural" retrieveer decides the water's a tad too cold, YOU become the retriever. If your dog is properly FF'd, he won't think twice and will do the job cuz he know the routine.

There - done venting. smirk.gif

RAJ - there are a ton of resources online teaching how to FF. Google force fetch and start reading. Take it slow and really learn your dog - at 2 yrs old, he's definitely old enough to be trained and can handle the program. If you have questions, ask 'em here. There are some good dog folks on this board and a few others. Good luck.

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SportFishin'

I'm with Blaze,Setter Guy, & others.

Force Fetch training will help you to "Conserve game." By using a well trained reliable hunting dog after the shot.

Just my .02

Chris

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BLACKJACK

Quote:

You owe it to the game which you are hunting to make sure your dog is a reliable retriever.


Ahhhhh, the old debate, to force or not to force.

I have to say that I take offense at your remark above, you make it sound like people are unethical and lose game if they don't hunt with a 'forced' dog. I'm on my fourth Lab and none of them have been forced and over the last 25 years I'll bet that I average less than 2 lost birds a year - and I've hunted and shot a LOT of pheasants and a few ducks over that time.

I think what you're seeing in the above examples are guys that haven't spent enough time in the preseason working with their dogs, they haven't exposed them to birds BEFORE they go hunting. Hopefully they've learned their lessons and the next pup will be better trained BEFORE the season.

My young lab is three and I still keep some pigeons in a cage to tune her up now and then. You can't expect Rover to lay on the couch and fetch a few dummies and then hit the duck blind and be a top notch retriever.

As far as the force fetch training, if a guy hasn't spent the time introducing their dogs to birds before season, then they should leave the force fetching to a pro, because it is a nasty bit of business. And who wants to lose their dog to a trainer now? Work with some dead birds, get some enthusiasm up, get them to retrieve, and then get them forced in the off season, if thats what they need/you desire.

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browndog

Force Fetch, Force Back, Force right over, and Force left over. The dog will love you for it in the end.

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JDM

Force fetch is SOOOO critical. It sets up all of the next phases in training. I always make sure I spend extra time on the "hold" to help eliminate the dropped birds.

For you natural guys, more power to you, but at some point, with a majority of non-forced dogs, you will have problems. With dogs, everyones standards are different. One guys "great" dog wouldn't last a week in another guy's kennel. I think the whole point of the original question was to get help with his issue and the best way to do that is force fetch, which would be a great winter training excercise for him. If I were him, I would start the hold today. Get that in and he could be forced pretty quickly.

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verg

Im with blackjack. I don't disagree totally with FF. It can be great. I disagree with the statement about making you and your dog closer. Maybe you closer but it is not the most gentle thing for dogs. Don't care what anyone says--i've done it. Blackjack is right, i into'd my 2yr old lab to birds very early. Never had a problem. My current 7th mon old i didn't due to having new son etc etc. He is coming along much slower. But he will be there as long as i keep getting birds to him. Again, FF isn't all bad, but i bet 99% of dogs wouldn't need it if they were into'd to birds often as young pups.

just my opinion

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2 DA GILLS

My griffon was introduced to birds at a young age and did not want to pick up and hold birds. The birds he did pick up, he crushed with his mouth. He has been FF trained and all is good so far this season and during training efforts. The nice thing about FF training is that when I send him, he searches until he finds the bumper or bird.

With the natural method, do guys teach hold. Not only do they need to pick it up, but they need to hold it until given the command to release. A live bird dropped 3 feet from you is no good either.

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gundy89

I'm not against force fetching. I'd love to have my dog go through it, however, this is my first dog and I don't have the money to send them to a pro yet. I really don't trust myself to do it, so I do what you call the natural method. However, I spend a ton of time with her. She doesn't sit on the couch until the weekends. We work at least once a day, even if it's only a couple minutes. When I can afford the pro, she'll definitely go. And don't come back saying that I don't deserve a dog or shouldn't hunt because I haven't FFed her! That's absurd, your basically saying that if I don't do everything by the book, then I shouldn't even be able to hunt. I totally respect the game I'm chasing. I shot 10 pheasants over my dog last year who was only 7-8 mos old and didn't lose 1! She wasn't forced and maybe she didn't retrieve the bird, but she found them and I went over to pick them up. I'm not to lazy to help out with a retrieve. That's how it's done when you don't even have a dog. We lost 1 bird last weekend (it dove on her), but she also found 2 that I would never have had without a dog. She retreived everyone to my hand last weekend. I'm (Contact Us Please) proud of her!! She has a great drive, nose, and loves to retrieve. If I'm shooting birds in 30 degree weather and she won't go, then I will. Again, I'm not to proud to help with the work.

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verg

well you guys may not like this but...if you give a dog time, like 2 maybe 3 seasons of lots of hunting experience-i bet they do well. They will find a bird, pick it up and bring it back. Experience is everything in my book. And--the part you won't like--a trainer told me that FF is "evil" but sometimes necessary. He said that lots of the dogs that need to be force fetched come from poor lines. Dogs that don't need it come from better natural lines. Don't blast me..that is what he said. But, could be true??

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BLACKJACK

gundy, I agree with you on getting out and helping them find the birds, get them in the area so their nose can do the work.

I would advice you to NOT to pick up the birds when she finds them, make her pick them up and bring them to you. Sooner or later you'll get into a heavy cover situation where you don't even see her, you want her to realize that when she finds that bird that her duty is to bring it to you, thats when she gets her praise.

A bird dropped in the open where you know where it is and she doesn't is a great training opportunity, tell her to hunt it up, and when she brings it, give her lots of praise. Coach your hunting partners not to rush right over and pick up that easy bird, use it for a training session, and its a reward for the dogs, getting feathers in their mouth.

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Gissert

Blakcjack is right on the money, at least from what I see with my dog.

I have a three year old female lab. She is crazy to fetch, and loves to please. She will fetch bumpers or Dokken dummies until my arm is sore.

Put feathers in the mix, and she does not like to pick it up, I have put wings on some bumpers, and she will grab the portion that has no feathers on it.

I have failed my dog because I did not get her exposed to fetching birds or feathers sooner.

I am going to have to go the force fetch method. I owe it to her and my self to get past this hurdle. She has tons of drive, great boat manners, and often pickes up birds in flight before I do.

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2 DA GILLS

gundy89,

This is my first dog as well and I was fortunate that the breeder I purchased my dog from helped with the majority of the FF training. I too did not trust myself to do it correctly. I realized with my particular dog that if I wanted a reliable retriever, I needed to go the FF route. The season is young and I still have a lot of time to have issues, but so far I have seen a huge difference with the FF training.

I would never be one to say that if a dog is not FF trained, that you do not deserve the dog or to hunt. I have hunted 15 years without a FF trained dog or even a dog at all in many cases. I am very happy with my decision to finally have a dog of my own and was fortunate to have an experienced trainer that helped me with the FF training. I do not regret either decision.

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JDM

Verg - you should let us know who that trainer is so if I ever hear of anyone going to him, I can tell them not to. I have NEVER heard of a professional retriever trainer that does not do some form or force fetch, and I know quite a few.

I will continue to FF my dogs, which guys beg to hunt over, and come from some of the best lines you can buy.

If you guys only could see the difference between a real trained dog and the rest, you would understand. Two to three years out of a eight to ten year hunting career is a lot to me. I'll say it again, everyone has different standards. One thing I will agree with is that the more you hunt them, the better they get.

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