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JJD
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Location: Right Side WA state
Joined: 11/07/2008
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An ounce of prevention . . .

I have been training retrievers for over 30 yrs. Never professionally (i.e. for $$) and have found it quite rewarding. There have been times when I ended up being the student rather than the dog.
Good basic obedience is #1. A lot of areas offer classes most of the year. There are a number of good books out there on training. They are not all the same as there is always more than one way to get from point A to point B. Purchase one before you purchase a dog and you will be leaps and bounds ahead of most new dog trainers.
No where is there a better example of the saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Most people come to me when their dog will not behave as expected, trying to get the dog to unlearn a behavior that they unwittingly taught the dog in the first place.
Example; Guy comes to me and says that when in the blind the dog sits there and looks at him instead of “out there” where the ducks are. I ask him if he threw all the dogs marks himself. The answer is generally yes, qualified with a, “but I got one of those dummy launchers that gets’em way out there”. Sadly enough, the dog now thinks that all good things to retrieve come from his handler’s hand, no need to be lookin out yonder. You need to have a remote thrower, whether it’s mechanical or the next door neighbor kid. The birds are out there, not in your hands.
Example; Guy is anxious to get his dog out on a real hunt, first thing open is dove. It’s a nice warm early fall day, dog is panting trying to shed heat. Dog is excited as all get out. You knock one down and the dog is after it like a lightening bolt. Young dog hits the dove like a rabid linebacker with a free shot at an opposing quarterback., then proceeds to nearly chokes to death on the feathers. All the while, likely chewing the heck out of the bird trying to unclog itself. Dove have fine feathers that pull out very easily. It ends up being a very bad first experience for the young dog. Have seen a couple dogs who have refused to pick up a dove after an experience like that. I will not work a dog on doves till at least the 2nd season and more often the 3rd. Yeah, some dogs will do just fine and I’m sure many have, however, I don’t want to have to fix such a problem when it’s likely I can avoid it altogether.
Again, prevention through education is a factor that can not be overemphasized. There are a number of message boards around to help you fill in the blanks in the books. I read everything I can get my hands on.
Even a 1st time trainer can turn out a very functional hunting dog “IF” they spend the time to study first.

Don Fischer's picture
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Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
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An ounce of prevention . . .

Good post JD. I have also seen to many times when an owner would bring in a dog after it's been screwed up. Rather than training you have to start un-training and then re-training. Had a really nice guy bring me one of the favorite dogs I ever worked with. Britt that was just a pup and would not retrieve. He took it out on wild pheasants much to early then sent it after a cripple that promply beat the He!! out of it. I got a lab in once, didn't do a lot of them, that the guy that owned it had screwed up first by himself then found several other cut rate trainers to take it to. Actually the dog was fairly easy as it had no idea at all what was going on. It worked out a matter of simply obedience work and FF. Nice little hunting dog!

I got a really nice setter in out of Pheonix, Az one time that the owner wanted broke out. She'd had hundreds of birds killed over her. Well part of my breaking process is whoa training. Guess what? The guy had already whoa trained his dog with a shock collar. Soon as the dog heard whoa she was upside down on her back, he thought she was doing it good!

One of the key words in training any dog is patience. To many people want their six month old pup preforming like a five year old veteran. Then they wonder why either it's not, or, it was last year and this year forgot everything!

JJD
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Location: Right Side WA state
Joined: 11/07/2008
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An ounce of prevention . . .

Know what you are saying Don.
The other thing of interest is that many don't understand that dogs learn and, more importantly, retain learned tasks through rote. The act of repeating a drill many times over. Just because your dog performed the task correctly once or twice does not mean it knows said task. Things seemingly minor to us can confuse a dog. I have a number of training locations I use cuz I don't want the to get too used to any one environment. I will however use one spot for a specific training of a particular task till I'm reasonably sure it's "got it".

Thing that always has amazed me with young dogs is that one day they you will think they will be the next National Field Trial Champ by 2 yrs and the next day you can be on your hands and knees looking for it's brain as you are sure it's fallen out of it's head. If I've learned one thing over the years, it's that patience is the key. Just cuz it appears simple to me, does not mean it's simple to the dog.