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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We recently lost our Lab that was going on 15-years; she was a great hunting dog who knew how to use her nose but also was a great family dog. When I first got her, I was single and therefore there wasn't the bad influences that I will have to deal with now that we have a 6-year old and 16-month old.

Last week we purchased a female Lab from DNR Labrador Retrievers (as did Bogey on this site). Both sides of the pup's family are loaded with Field Champions and Master Hunters. In fact, the Dam is a Champion and the Sire is a Master Hunter & also holds a WCX title.

Anyway, to get to my point... I know the pup has great potential and the weight is on my shoulders to bring that out of her. She only will be used as an actual waterfowling dog and pet thereafter. With my first girl I never used whistles but rather learned to use hand signals for which her nose did the rest in finding a downed bird. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to train/discipline a pup to be a good hunting dog all the while knowing that she will in fact be a pet and the kids will create bad habits with her?

With my first pup, the foundation was there long before the children came so she knew when it was time to be family dog and when it was time to be a hunter. With starting a pup I can see where there will be confusion as she will be disciplined with me, but when I'm absent, so will be the discipline with the children being around her. I know others of you out there have probably been through this and any guidance, especially with creating a foundation with pup, would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Assuming you work days, will your wife be home with pup/kids or a sitter? Everyone needs to pitch in to minimize the confusion....you have to set some rules in terms of the commands used, the things allowed or not such as jumping up, etc. One of the worst things is to allow the older child to throw things for the pup .....with no expectation of waiting for a fetch command. Gotta let them be pups & kids but you also need to be in control.
 

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They are not mutually exclusive. A trained hunting dog is a good pet.

But a pet isn't always a trained hunting dog.

BTW. I don't see how you could have given hand signals effectively without first teaching the dog to sit by whistle and turn to look at you for a hand signal 50 yards out on a retrieve.

If your situation warrants it, you sound like a perfect candidate to have a professional train your dog for you. Good luck. Hope this helps.
 

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They are not mutually exclusive. A trained hunting dog is a good pet.

But a pet isn't always a trained hunting dog.

BTW. I don't see how you could have given hand signals effectively without first teaching the dog to sit by whistle and turn to look at you for a hand signal 50 yards out on a retrieve.

If your situation warrants it, you sound like a perfect candidate to have a professional train your dog for you. Good luck. Hope this helps.
Excellent observations! If you choose to do the training yourself, which is very fulfilling, the information is more readily available than at any previous time to do a first rater job of it. Start with a solid proven puppy course. Then at around 6 months begin formal Basics. Everything else is built on that firm foundation.


Please let me know anytime I can be of help as you go along.

EvanG
 

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Consistency is HUGE! Dogs are creatures of habit, is an action/reaction type of behavior. Best thing I ever did was have my wife run one of our labs through dog obedience training. Teaches the human more than the dog. Your pup will respond to everyone in your family. Ultimately you need to become the alpha male. Also, you will need to train the dog that behaviors that are OK at home are not necessarily OK in the field. They are smart enough to figure it out if you are consistent. Question to be answered is are you looking for a field trial champion or a good hunting partner and pet for your family. That will determine the amount of work you're setting yourself up for!
Training your own dog can be a very satisifying endeavor. Give you a great feeling when your pup makes a great retrieve and you trained her.
Have fun and good luck!

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the insight fellas! I've definetly have already incorporated some of your advice & the wife is being really good with properly working with her as well. This whole thing has been very bitter sweet.... on the same day we went to go pick up the new pup, the Vet had called to inform me that ole' girl's ashes were available to be picked up (gone but never forgotten). Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BTW. I don't see how you could have given hand signals effectively without first teaching the dog to sit by whistle and turn to look at you for a hand signal 50 yards out
Actually my old boss & friend taught me to have her sit while putting a dummy to each side & one behind her. Initially I would stand within 20-yards of her and send her while giving a hand signal (repeatedly) in one direction until she comprehended the specific hand motion. And after she grasped the hand signals, I progressively increased the training distance between us.

While hunting (and if she didn't see where the bird fell), I'd send her out in the direction of the fallen bird. If she didn't see or smell the bird she had the natural tendency (at 50-yards) to turn around & look to me for further direction. And on longer retrieves in open water, she would repeat the same process... at about every 50-yards she would turn to me for direction if she hadn't put her nose or eyes on it. Once I would get her close, I'd say 7 out of 10 times it was her nose that put her on the downed bird. Maybe a bit unorthodox but it was successful & our way of working together.
 

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Actually my old boss & friend taught me to have her sit while putting a dummy to each side & one behind her. Initially I would stand within 20-yards of her and send her while giving a hand signal (repeatedly) in one direction until she comprehended the specific hand motion. And after she grasped the hand signals, I progressively increased the training distance between us.

While hunting (and if she didn't see where the bird fell), I'd send her out in the direction of the fallen bird. If she didn't see or smell the bird she had the natural tendency (at 50-yards) to turn around & look to me for further direction. And on longer retrieves in open water, she would repeat the same process... at about every 50-yards she would turn to me for direction if she hadn't put her nose or eyes on it. Once I would get her close, I'd say 7 out of 10 times it was her nose that put her on the downed bird. Maybe a bit unorthodox but it was successful & our way of working together.
Gottcha! I'm glad it worked out for you. I'm not doing near as much duck hunting as I'd like to, or used to do. I'm an advocate of the K.I.S.S philosophy if I can. I agree about using the nose as you mentioned. There are those very good trainers that can direct their retrievers to the point of the fall as good as a marksman hits his target. That is very impressive when witnessed first hand. As mentioned, retriever training resources are widespread in the do-it-yourself camp as well as good trainers. Folks today really do have access to the knowledge of incredible talent, and resources to successfully do it yourself. Likewise, watching your dog "hunt it out" by simply getting them close brings a different but still rewarding satisfaction, I think.
 
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