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Dog looks at gun, not at what its pointing to...


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I am having a problem getting my 2 year old choc lab to look at what the gun is pointing at, and not the gun. She goes into alert mode as soon as i lift the gun, and will go jump the blind after the shot, before she sees the bird (will also jump even if i didn't connect)...

I notice she has a lot of energy and thats good, but i wished she would observe things more. For instance, we were looking straight into the wheat field, and I took 2 of my best shots ever. 15 yard straight ahead and clear as ever, but instead, the dog starts searching behind the blind...

Nose is great, and stays close on pheasant chases, but im starting we will be hurting come marsh and water time..

Can this be taught? Thanks

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One thing I have heard that retriever trainers do to prepare dogs for sitting in blinds or on a stand in flooded hardwoods is the following. If you have a pond you can access for training you can get a pigeon launcher and place it in a boat with a pigeon in the launcher. Let the dog small and see you put the pigeon in the launcher. Tie the boat to a rope and push it out in the pond. Sit the dog and release the pigeon. The pigeon will be a little disoriented and will circle the area above the boat. You can shoot the bird and let the dog retrieve it. After several times this should get them focused on looking into the sky and not at you. I'm not sure if you have all this equipment or access to a large pond to train. This all seems logical but I have never tried it.

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That sounds like a good idea. I was reading some blind retrieve articles, and realize I have some work to do.

Its mainly my fault for the lack of training. Too much stuff going on and my drive to duck hunt is not as high as it was previous years.

Will work her on the roosters hard this year!

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had the same problem with my first dog 15 yrs ago...actually it was my problem. Dog was great pheasant hunting but a pain in the rear duck hunting. Couldn't sit still jumped out of the boat every shot. You need to work with the dog on patience, teach the dog that she should retrieve when you want her to. That could mean throwing dummies and not sending the dog for them. Pick them up yourself. I wouldn't be concerned she'll lose her drive or get confused on what her job is, she has the drive now you need to work on her weaknesses.

There is a book by Vic Barlow I have called British Training for American Retrievers. The philosophy there is patience and obedience first and after mastery of that retrieving (no hunting the first year obedience only). In that book is a story similar to yours, that owner solved it by not letting the dog retrieve for about a year. Probably hard to do!!!

I think your on the right track with you mentioning the blind retrieve thing. I'd start with making the dog stay til you send it, probably need a check cord/leash in the duck blind in the mean time. It sucks when your pal is a hassle in the duck blind, frustration sets in and it becomes less fun than it should be. If you work on your dogs weaknesses one day it will start to "click" and you'll both have more fun, duck hunting can be a lot of boredom with flurries on activity dog needs to learn that.

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leechlake, you really nailed it.

I took her in for gun training last fall and expected her to come back a full blown hunting dog. That was really naive on my part. Not that she isn't, just that I need to work with her. All you listed will sure help out.

It definitely sucks because she is more excited to be out there with me, but then the frustration kicks in and she'll know, droopy eyes and what not.

Going to hit the books hard and then the field. Thanks for the input!

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The book i'm reading now for my pup states that retrieving is the heart of the training. You get the dog to have the desire to retrieve. After that you teach control, which the dog will learn to do if he/she wants to continue hunting. You should probably teach control on land first with retrieves using the dogs name to release them. It is also recommended to use a 2 person team to teach retrieving so that the dog is looking down range for the bird. This is accomplished with you the handler with the dog and a buddy down range with a dummy and gun or blank gun. You control/steady the dog, he watches hears the gun shot, then sees the dummy fly and you release the dog after the dummy on your command. This can be enforced with check cord or Ecoller. it will get your pooch looking down range and take his mind off of the gun. He should not be assocating the gun itself with birds but rather looking for the retrieve.

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