Incomplete Retrieve – Dog drops the bird part way to you. When you stand in the field facing your dog and commanding fetch (or whatever you use), you look like a wall or obstacle facing you’re your dog. A simple trick is to turn sideways when you give the fetch recall. This way you are not an obstacle or “wall” standing in his/her way. Another trick is to back up as the dog approaches you reassuring the dog with praise as it approaches. The trick is to back up slower than the dog is coming to you letting it eventually catch you. Don’t grab the dummy/bird from the dog! Rather let the dog have some ownership time before commanding it to “give”. This way you will not contribute to having a “hard mouthed” dog.
Refusal to Retrieve – Dog refuses to pick up bird. If you have a dog that loves birds, this problem can be corrected with what I call the Conditioned Retrieve. I start out with a ½ inch dowel rod about 8 to 10 inches long. You can elect to have a 3 inch square block attached to each end. I have the dog WHOA or SIT depending on it being a pointing or flushing breed (Your dog must have been trained to WHOA or SIT consistently before proceeding with this exercise). I place my hand above the dog’s top jaw and gently open his mouth slightly. I then insert the dowel into the dog’s mouth and give the command “fetch”. You dog may try to spit it out. They usually react this way. Gently hold the dowel in the dog’s mouth and give the command “hold”. Do so for a couple of seconds. Then give the command “give”, upon which you allow the dog to spit it out into your hand. Repeat this drill until the dog understands and freely fetches, holds and gives the dowel to you. Now you are not only training your dog to retrieve, you are training your dog to “retrieve to hand”!
Stop by again next month as we discuss how to correct another problem that occurs with pointing dogs: staunchness.
See you then! If you would like work with me on an individual basis, you can go to my web site www.huntsmartpro.com/services to learn more about our training program.
CJ & Shawnee