Old Dogs and New Tricks

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By Labs and 887''s - 10/28/2013 3:51:54 PM
I used to not hunt with a dog (mainly because I had never had a hunting dog) until I married and my wife's dog became mine essentially. This lab was a fully trained upland bird hunter, but never out on a duck hunt. I have been hunting her now for two years in a duck blind and I keep finding myself trying to keep her mind on duck hunting instead of pheasant hunting. She doesn't have any problem retrieving downed ducks and geese, but the problem is keeping her with me or still enough for the birds to come in. Does anyone have any pointers on getting my dog focused only on duck hunting or is this a lost cause with her enjoying upland bird hunting too much?
By Labs and 887''s - 10/29/2013 3:57:54 PM
Also, she does sit and stay for an excellent amount of time when training but its when we're in the blind she gets restless and only stay for about 30sec. until she starts whining and moving around...
By Windjammer - 11/9/2013 5:58:07 AM
My lab did the same when I started training him. Although not a pro, here are a couple tips I used to make him a bit more steady:

1- Start easy. Have them "stay" (or whatever command you use), in a controlled environment with no distractions. Keep them in a familiar area such as the house or back yard. Walk away just a bit, if the dog breaks, give a little tap with the e-collar.

2- (From Tom Dokken's dog training book, paraphrased) Grab your dog, a magazine and a cup of coffee and go sit outside for 30 minutes. I would sit by my front door, in the park (not close to people) and just sit there are read. He had a tough time at first. He was saying "you want me to just sit here and do nothing?" YES! That is just what I want from you.

3- Add in the distractors- Your dog is pretty steady, so now make them prove it. Throw bumpers, put a treat in front of them, run around and wave your hands in the air (probably not a good idea in the park) but distract the dog. If he or she breaks, give a little stimulation with the e collar, and a "NO!" (or whatever you use). My dog picked this up pretty quickly.

All of this is sort of like the "crawl, walk run" type mentality. This is what I did, but it's not the only way. Realisticly, I think you could accomplish all of this is a month, although it's a never ending process. Currently, the only thing that will make my dog break is if my wife walks up to him. Luckily, she doesn't hunt or we would be screwed.
By Labs and 887''s - 11/13/2013 1:42:30 PM
Thank you for the tips those are definatley good training strategies. I guess the bad part is that I have done those with her in training and she does them flawlessly (she is 10 year old now) The only problem is when we are actually in the field. I had talked to a couple of people about this issue and they told me that she is just a hunting junky and they had similar problems with some of their labs. They are perfect in training but when you get them out to the duck blind they are just diehards and want to find/get a bird so its hard for them to understand that there isn't a bird every second of the hunt. Especially if they were trained on upland birds before they had ever been on a duck hunt. Cause for upland they expect to be out and about moving constantly to find a bird. So I guess I am wanting to see if anybody as any tips for that specific problem or if it just isn't worth trying to stop that problem.
By Swamper - 11/13/2013 2:20:38 PM
knowing the dog was 10 years old might have been helpful.

enjoy what you have while you have it.  
By Williamk8987 - 11/15/2013 7:23:25 PM
I agree with Swamper.... Let your dog enjoy his hunting, cause he prob only has a good seasons left in him.  Take him out after upland birds and if you still want waterfowl, well try to jump shoot ducks and geese.. Everyone wins and everyone is happy.