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Work for the dogs in the off season.

609 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Jumpshootin'
With duck season now closed and goose hunting being only a part time passion at this point I was wondering what others do to keep the dogs in shape in the winter months?
I have come to realize that I didnt train my dog to do dry land retrieves so that is on list but she also needs alot more water work as well as blind retrieves. Anyway as you can see I have a huge list for my dog in general but what do those of you that have a working dog do in the off months?
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By all means work on the land retrieves and obediance. Water work is the easiest for a retriever. Virtually every retriever will swim out and retrieve straight back in. The land work is more challenging and takes quite a bit more control.
Start on land with single marks of 25 yards or so, gradually stretching them out to 100 yards or so(out to 200+ yards if you plan on hunt-testing) When she has that down go to double marks. One close, the other far, etc...
Then you can work on handling to marks(hand signals).
Then comes training for blind retrieves.
Do you have a simple training book such as The Ten Minute Retriever or other training program?
My Lab pup is 6.5 months old now and I am concentrating on obediance work; sit, heel, stay, here. We go grouse hunting a couple time a week. And work on single marks once a week. We're up to 3 or 4 marks per session out to 75 yards. He's becoming a pinpoint marker, running straight to the fall and retrieving straight back. He has pretty much grown out of wanting to run around and play with the dummy. After the first of the year I'll start to get serious and collar condition him and do force fetch. Then the serious retriever training will start.
The off-season is a very good time to work on all the basics with your dog. The pressure/desire to get birds is no longer there and you have plenty of time to do things the right way. If it takes a month to train her to get a task down, then so be it.
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I had my lab with me yesterday on my beaver trapline. I just couldn't get her to retrieve the 54 lb. beaver I caught back to the truck. I had to lug it out my self.
Multibeard, be careful with those traps and your dog. I just had a bad thought of a dog getting his head in a 330. I don;t know if I would take him. I sets some 330 Conie's and tripped it with a broom handle, I don;t have to tell you it snapped it off clean. I would hate to see any dog get into one of those. Matter of fact I worry about my dog getting in one of those connibears. Years of training lost in a matter of seconds. :(
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When I put my hip boots on to go check traps in the morning, the old dog goes nuts. It is hard to make her stay home all the time. There is no way I would endanger here with traps.

I have been at the trapping bit for over 35 years so I am not new at it. ALL of my 220 or larger connibears are set under water as I have always been afraid that I might catch some hunters dog.

My dog has been taught that sit/stay or heel means just that. Most of the time she waits in the truck for me to return but at least she isn't stuck here at home by her self.
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Winter is a perfect time to really HAMMER home the fundamentals (sit, stay, heal, steadiness, and one of the most important..... COME!!)

Come means here now, not in a second while I check this stuff out over here and not when you have to walk half way out there to get them. And this command might just save your dogs life around the house, park, or in the field some day.

biggest thing is that your command is a COMMAND - not a request. "stay" doesn't mean "in this general area" it means THAT spot, you can go inside have a cup of coffee and come back out and that dog better be right where you left it.

get the basics down and you'll have a solid dog to build on. blow or rush through it and you'll get a dog that works... sometimes (like buck!)

Jump shootin made good points and if you don't already, I'd recommend any of the water dog/gamedog books/vhs/dvd retriever training. If you really get into it and want to hunt test your dog, I'd look into the Lardy tapes. they're excellent as well.

The best thing about dog training is that you'll get everything out of it that you put into it- and then some, guaranteed. and you'll enjoy their company that much more in the blind and the company you keep will sing their praises!!

the birds you shot that day maybe forgotten in time, but it's the yarns told by your friends of your labs amazing retrieves in brutal conditions is what they'll reminisce.

as for the coni's.... my buddy up in MN lost his lab to one. his wife was out walking the dog by the river. she didn't have the strength to free it's head completely, she tired and the dog passed on. the wrong end to one of the nicest labs I've ever hunted over.
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Hey Jumpshootin

Did you end up getting a lab from Hunters Marsh. I remember about a year ago you asked about my lab which I got from Kim. Are you happy with his progress so far. What parents is the dog out of.
I am a trapper and I too fear what can happen to a dog in a coonibear. that is why even tho I can set them on dry lad because it is private land I DO NOT.

It is too bad that there are idiots among the trappers just as there are in all the outdoor sports. That is why I am lucky that my duck hunting is mostly on private land where I do not have to worry about traps other than my own.

There is a way to compress the springs on a conibear with a piece of rope or even your dog lead. When I finally get this computer stuff figured out I will post some pictures showing how it is done.
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ET, I did get the pup from Kim. He's out of her Talon & Maggie dogs. I am pleased with his progress so far. He is probably the most intelligent Lab pup that I have had. But he's also the most stubborn. But once he gets focused on a task he learns it quickly. Still, he's always testing my dedication to his training. Once he figures out that I won't back down or slack off he gives in and does everything that I expect of him.
How's your Lab coming along?
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