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Pup won't retrieve

NOTE: 3 of our trainers were used for this question so that we could get multiple ideas on the topic. It doesn't mean one should out weigh the other, they are just here for your information.

Dear Sirs,

Our dog Demi is a five months old lady. I have been taken it couple of times with me to duck hunting. Not a good year in Finland to get a duck. I have had some wonderful moments with Demi. It does walk and run in water as it should. It does sit with me and can be patient if needed. This week I finally shot a mallard and it fell near enough for Demi to fetch it. However, it was me who ended to fetch the duck !.

I do not blame it because She is young. I was surprised that the smell of the duck did not attrack it. Also it has shown interest to enjoy the duck heart, liver etc..

The one thousand dollar question is this: How will I be able to teach the idea about hunting ? (the parents of my dog were excellent hunters)?

Any good web pages to learn more ?

Though you don't mention the breed of dog or if the dog is naturally retrieving other objects such as balls or bumpers, this should be fairly easy to remedy. Assuming the dog is a naturally retrieving breed, here's what we do:

As early as possible, we try to get the pup interested in retrieving. We will put game scent on a tennis ball, use frozen game birds, and hard knobby bumpers. Keep your "training" sessions 10 minutes or less and try to end on a positive note.

Simply tease the dog with the game scented object to get her excited (you can rub a tennis ball on a dead game bird to make it smell "gamy") then toss it a few feet in front of you. Immediately let the dog run to it as you speak the retrieve command. The dog will run to get it and pick it up (keep in mind, I'm speaking of a dog with natural desire to retrieve). When the dog picks it up, gently pull the dog to you (always attach a long lead to your dog when training in the beginning phases) as you speak her come command. Praise when she arrives with the bird. Reward the dog a small, moist, tasty treat. Do this only a few times each session because you want to end the session with the dog wanting more.

One of the most common mistakes when developing the natural retrieve is to do too much in one session. Also, don't forget to have quality play time after each session. The dog needs to know that there is more to life than training sessions. You'll find that the dog will work harder for you too.

Always use the retrieve command and the come command with each toss of the object. The dog will soon relate those words to a retrieve and bringing it back.

Don't rush the dog. If it brings it to your vicinity and drops it, praise the dog anyway. If it delivers to hand, praise and reward.

Later we teach the dog heel. When your dog knows the heel command, this facilitates a rapid way to teach the naturally retrieving dog to deliver to hand. How? Simply command heel as the dog returns with the retrieve and the dog, without thinking, will walk along side while holding the object (keep in mind that at this point, you have taught the dog heel and she knows it well). As you are _walking_, reach down and command "drop" or "give" (whichever you prefer) and take the object from your dog, praise and reward. Now you have just "killed two birds with one stone". Your dog not only delivered to hand from heel but it also learned that from heel, you will give a new command to let go of the retrieve. When the dog gets good at this, we heel the dog a short distance from the retrieve, stop, then command give. Now you have taught the dog to retrieve, come to the position of heel and drop when commanded. This will take several weeks so be patient. Try it, it works!

If your dog does not have the natural instinct to retrieve you may want to give the 5 month old pup a bit longer to see if it will develop the instinct. I've seen dogs that could care less about birds at 5 months turn in to bird crazed dogs at age 6 months. If after trying and waiting your dog still does not have the natural inclination to retrieve, you will be faced with having to force train the dog to retrieve.

If your dog is a house companion as well, we have a variation on what I described above. If you would like more detail, you can visit our training tips web page on developing the natural retrieve at:

Good luck!
Dave Jones

For more information on the forced retrieve, try:
What is the "Forced Retrieve"? - BIll Corcoran

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