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When do retrievers start retrieving?


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Got a new black lab pup - he's 10 wks old. Wondering when he'll start retrieving. I've heard it varies a lot. He does retrieve some right now, maybe 1/4 of the time. Otherwise just lays down and chews or tries to run away with the dummies.

What are your experiences?

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No expert here...

It can vary between dogs.

I would suggest that you start the pup off in the right environment and setting.

Toss the dummy in a hallway or narrow space with a lite check chord.

Your pup should chase after dummy and pick up.

At this point start using the recall command and praising the pup. If he/she doesn't want to come, give a tug on the chord while still praising to coax back to you.

Above all make it fun!

I wouldn't let him get in the habit of chewing the dummies that early. Just another bad habit to break later on.

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Thanks for the response! I guess mainly I want to know if I should try to do some light, fun training or if he'll just pick it up. I thought since its natural for them, i probably need to just wait it out and trust that he'll do it. But, im anxious because I want to get him pheasant hunting this fall!

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get on a training program and stick to it. Most give you an idea of where you should be at any given age or stage.

10 weeks is too young to have any expectations. Likewise you should have no expectations for this fall... what ever you get is what you get. He will still be awefully young this fall. Pheasant hunting is the polar opposite to most training... lots of uncontrolled things happen while pheasant hunting.

He's a pup, have fun! He is! just like kids they grow up waaay too fast. Too much pressure or too many expectations can set him back... If this is your first dog, you need to train yourself as well as the dog. Controlled orderly steps and progression will make a great gun dog, relying on instincts will most likely cause your hair to fall out. Again find a good program, (book or video) and stick to it... you'll have a solid decade of hunting with a well trained partner!

Good Luck!


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Take your time. You are probably 5 or 6 weeks away from getting into much formal obedience. Keep it fun at that young age. Get a program like FowlDogs or Smartwork and follow it. You won't just wake up one day and have a dog that listens to you.

Hunting a 5-6 month old dog and getting much more than a headache is going to be asking quite a bit, although some will probably say they have done it. My first dog was about 9.5 months when pheasant season rolled around and although I took him out he wasn't nearly ready (didn't know any better). Take it slow, have lots of patience.

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My nine month old pup is like a sponge right now, picks up new commands and training fast, and enjoys doing it. Its amazing to watch, like all of a sudden, the light comes on. My point is don't rush it, when they're a little older they pick up the training faster, at this point enjoy the pup, get her out amoung people, teach the basics, sit, heel, stay, make them into good citizens. Patience, repition, more patience.

Back to your question, a young pup will bring back a dummy, but always quit before they do, keep them wanting more. Eventually they'll want to play keep away, nip that in the bud, throw in a hallway where they'll have to bring it back to you. Eventually you'll have a retrieving fool.

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Thank for the info guys. I have the Dokken's retriever training book and am following that. Having a lot of fun so far and not putting pressure on. Just working on basic obedience and keeping play time constructive but fun.

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As soon as you get them home start with a balled up sock down the hallway or in the basement. Keep the sessions short and successful. Start your sit/steady training as well, each time you feed give the command to sit with a gentle push on the [PoorWordUsage]. As time goes on you do this but you make him sit for a moment and lengthen that moment as time goes on before he gets to leave the sit position to eat.


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I think most guys on here will think I am crazy the way I train my dogs but I really wait a long time before I start. Part of the reason is I have two older dogs that are about ready to retire, they are 12 and will see less time in the woods this season and they will also be shorter trips. Duncan is eighteen months old and we are just now putting him to dummy training. Very smart dog, good instincts and wants to please me. He was to young to put in the field last fall so I just spent my time bonding with him and letting him be a puppy. He is noise trained and is not gun shy which I always feel is one of the more important things to work on. He actually comes to the sound of a gun.

Since I figure to be hunting over him for the next ten years I like to work him slow and make sure he and I am on the same page. I like my dogs to work close as I hunt grouse up here and the woods are thick. All of his commands are vocal with a simple whistle for reinforcement. Pretty much old school here as I don't use a training collar. He does have a separate collar with a bell on it and as soon as I take that out and he hears the bell he is ready to go. I do have the advantage of working him with old dogs and he is picking up some of what I want him to do from them. Most important thing or things that I would suggest is get the pup out everyday and work him some but never work him so much that he gets distracted or looks for an excuse to do something else. Work him and stop with him still wanting to do more. Also important that you work him with out kids or other people around, you want his attention to be on you, having other people calling his name and distracting the pup is a big no no in my book.

I will have the daughter sit with him while I work Bud on a quick refresher, just a few minutes and let him watch. Then Bud is back in the house with the daughter and Duncan gets the full attention. In a few more weeks we will start playing the FIND IT game. I will treat a dummy with scent and drag it around the yard and hide it in bushes, or under trees or in the garden and have him search till he finds it. The old dogs excel at this game and it has gotten me a lot of birds in the field that I thought were lost. There is of course a lot more to training a dog and there are guys on here who do it for a living but this is just some of the things I do. I am not a real hard core gun dog as my dogs are family pets year round and I am happy with getting out with them and sharing some time come bird season.

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A little update... He's 12 weeks now. I've been following most of what I read in Dokkens' book. At this point, he'll do 2-3 good retrieves each day. My 30' check cord is becoming really handy since he tries to run off and chew a lot. Still working on breaking that.

I tried the hallway suggestion and that really helped.

Thanks for advice!

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I used water retrieves and just waded in and meet the pup in knee deep water. They swim in a straight line back to shore. Been working with my daughter's 13 week old Lab that way and it keeps them cool in this hot weather.

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Whoa......hold on a second. Ten weeks is way too young to expect much from a Lab pup-or any dog for that matter. If this is your first dog you are going to have fun learning right along with him. And the first thing you learn is patience. If the dog is from good stock you'll know when he's ready for SERIOUS field training......he'll WANT to run after things.

But personally, and this is just ME.....I start some simple basic commands at this age: sit, stay, out, come.....but without a lot of serious pressure at this age.

Have fun. Go easy on yourself and the dog. You have time. Take it.

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