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Dog follows me in field

9 posts in this topic

I have 3yr old lab that I'd like to get her to walk further ahead of me when in the field hunting pheasants. Normally she'll run up ahead a bit and then stop, or she'll run back to me. Sometimes she'll even walk at my heels in thicker grass..almost as if we're just on a walk.

Is there a good way to get her to stay out ahead of me and continue to work without running back to me? I'm sure a few lessons at the game farm would help, but that can be spendy..any thoughts?

Thanks much

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You need to teach her to hunt. Try going to a game farm or get ahold of some sort of live birds. Plant them in grass no higher than your knee. Get her out in front of you and into those birds to get her excited. Walk in a zig zag motion and speed it up so that she can't stay at your side or behind you. Tell her to "hunt it up." That will be the command to quarter. She will start to get the idea once the birds flush and you shoot them. She will get very excited. Some dogs get it quicker than others. If she comes back to follow you, tell her "No, Hunt it up." If she disobeys that, then discipline her, and tell her again. Don't reinforce the following behind you. When you get her hunting and quartering, make sure you are praising her and telling her what a good job she is doing.

One other possibility - your dog might be out of shape and gets very tired and just can't do it. If your dog is fat, you can't expect it to perform like an athelete.

If your dog knows hand signals, then it is really easy. You just handle your dog on the fly back and forth.

Good luck. Stay with it and be patient. It will come. Most labs are not big ranging upland dogs, so don't expect the same results as a pointer or even a springer. They will, for the most part, work closer than most breeds.

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Ask a farmer if you can shoot some pigeons from his barn. Freeze them and plant them in low cover... like an alfalfa field. Encourage her to find the birds... once she understands what she is to do, she will hunt ahead of you. Also when walking in the field, if she drops down behind you, about face 180 degrees and begin walking in that direction. This way she always is in front of you. She is walking behind you because she does not understand what is expected of her to do (she probably thinks she is on a walk) and she doesn't have the confidence to hunt in front from lack of exposure to birds. Once she gets a good taste of what is expected, this problem will be solved.

Good Luck!

Ken

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Quote:

If she disobeys that, then discipline her, and tell her again.


JDM, I agree with most of your post, but I would not recommend that he disciplines his dog for getting behind him when he is introducing a new concept to his dog. This is not a natural thing for many retrievers and disciplining the dog will only further reduce her confidence to hunt out in front. Lots of praise as you stated and lots of success will get her hunting and quartering.

Quote:

If your dog knows hand signals, then it is really easy. You just handle your dog on the fly back and forth.


I would not teach a dog to quarter by handling them. The dog will begin to rely on you to 'cast' them in the right direction to find birds. They should be activley searching for them and finding them on their own to fully understand what they are to be doing. Walking in a zig zag pattern as you posted, or changing directions when hunting the field are two good techniques to get the dog learn to quarter and cover more ground. Plus the end result of 'handling' to quarter is sloppy work when handling on blinds. The dog learns that it does not need to carry a line and does not have to take a clean cast when handling. Mixing casting and quartering is common for older dogs (I even do it), but would not recommend it for foundation work.

Good Luck!

Ken

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Many years ago I had the same issue in tall grass. It is soo much easier to walk behind you then for the dog to break the path. Thats most likely what is happening in the tall grass.

What I did was as soon as she got behind me, I stopped, turned so she was now in front of me again and then started walking again telling her to "hunt em up". You nearly run over the dog. You might spend 5 minutes walking three steps and needing to turn around again. But the dog usually figures out that the right place is somewhere in front and your not going to break the path for them when they get tired.

Heavy bird action will help as well.

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thanks for the info..makes good sense to me

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I agree with all the advice about 'walking at the dog' to make them hunt in front of you, do it in short grass, then move onto longer grass. Give them some command that works for you - 'huntem up'. One thing I'd like to add is that eventually that doesn't work, like with a puppy, an old dog, a tired dog, they're wore out and just want to follow you. Thats when you tell them Heel. So the difference is that they can follow you at certain times, but only when you tell them, otherwise they should be 'huntem up'.

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She's in very good shape and even at the start of the day, she'll go out and then come back. She's been doing what I trained her to do(when we're not hunting), so without many birds..I can't expect too much yet. She knows the hunt em up command, but right now, she thinks it's probably something she can find right away that I've thrown in the weeds, but needs to learn to continue searching. I'm sure when I get some birds under her nose, she'll get the hang of it quickly

Thanks again for the ideas.

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I had the same problem with our lab/cross. She LOVES to retrieve and has a good nose of her. If we get one down she will usually find it. But she would never want to get out in front of us and work. She knew what to do because if we got close to one that she picked up the scent on she was on a mission to find it. But as soon as it was flushed and we were moving on to continue hunting it was back to walking beside/behind you. We never have gotten her cured of it and now she is done hunting. She tore a ligament in her knee on her back leg this summer and had to have surgery to replace it and the vet said no more hard running or hunting because she might reinjure it. The vet also said the other knee is bad and she may at some point blow that one as well.

Good luck with it I think it can be done its just takes time and a lot of work.

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