not taxidermy related - lab pup training

Submitted by Becky P on 1/24/05 at 8:25 AM. ( fishon869ATaolDOTcom )

My husband got a 6 week old black lab puppy yesterday. He has trained a doberman and a boxer to retrieve doves, but we really want to start this one out right for ducks. Do any of you know of a good training book?

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This response submitted by Dawn on 1/24/05 at 8:59 AM. ( )

Our lab lives and breathes for hunting. He is also very well behaved and has become my walking partner for the past couple of years. We started training our pup from day one. They are really smart dogs - learn very fast. We got a video that was excellent. Takes you from puppy to adult - Game Dog by Richard A. Wolters. He also had books but we found the videos were better because you actually watch him training the dogs. Very easy video to understand. By 8 months our Lab was retrieving by whistle command and hand commands only. The video is a great investment if you want a really good duck/bird dog.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your new lab - they are wonderful dogs.

Well kiddo

This response submitted by cur on 1/24/05 at 9:34 AM. ( )

Looks like they beat me to it.....I was going to recommend "Water Dog" by Richard Wolters. I bought a copy years ago and used the techniques to train a number of fine labs. My current dog, "Junior" is a graduate of the Wolters school. You should be able to locate a copy on Amazon at a low price. I noticed the jacket price of my copy was $14.95, but I bought it from Tidewater Specialties for $12.50......(Whoever they were.)

James Lamb Free

This response submitted by Old Fart on 1/24/05 at 10:00 AM. ( )

J.L.Free is the author of a book on training Labs that I have used. I think the name of the book is "Training Your Retreiver". Sorry I don't remember the name for sure and the book is on loan to a friend of mine who has a pup.

Old Fart recommends a good one...

This response submitted by marty on 1/24/05 at 10:25 AM. ( )

...Although it is a bit outdated and a bit on the stern side, all the same stuff applies today. Except of course the introduction of training collars.

I do have a question though. Where'd you get the pup? 6 weeks is a week or two earlier than any reputable breeder would normally let a pup go. Are you sure it wasn't at least 7 weeks when you got it?


This response submitted by Becky P on 1/24/05 at 11:19 AM. ( )

Thanks. I'll have to check into those.

Marty, he didn't come from a breeder. Kinda long story, but to make it short. The people that had them combined 2 households and 2 dogs, and someone wasn't paying attention and ended up with pups. Anyway, the parents were just pets but the grandfather on the daddy's side was a hunter. That's how we ended up with a supposedly six week old pup, but he's a brute, looks more like 8 weeks. If he doesn't workout for hunting that's o.k., we'll still love him.

Thanks again. BP

force break

This response submitted by jim on 1/24/05 at 11:32 AM. ( )

if your going to train for hunting get the tri-tronics video on fetch and hold. good videos and your dog should be force broke to hold birds and pick up on command. mine spit one out at the line in a test and would not pick back up because she was ready to go get the next she'll pick up anything when i say fetch. break em at 8 or 9 months ,you won't regret the extra training

Mixed feelings on that Jim...

This response submitted by marty on 1/24/05 at 11:47 AM. ( )

"Force Break" sounds like such a harsh deal. Many dogs will pick up and drop with very little encouragement. I'm a firm believer of setting the pooch up to succeed, then praise him/her. Plus, it doesn't sound like Becky wants a National Field Trial Champion. Just a dog that does what it needs to do in the field in hunting conditions.

I had a Chocolate Lab that was nurtured along from 8 weeks on. I took her everywhere with me and worked her briefly nearly everyday. She probably had a thousand pheasants shot over her in her lifetime. Never did duck hunt back then. She retrieved solidly and sniffed up plenty of birds for me - we had a special bond. She would have never made a trial dog. But she regularly smoked several NFC's I hunted with in actual hunting conditions. Trial dogs and hunting dogs are two different animals in my opinion. Another thing I noticed with the trialers was that nearly everyone crushed the crap out've the bird before it got back to hand. It was hamburger by the time it made it in the game bag! But boy, they sure hunted hard and were stylish on long retieves!

James Lamb Free

This response submitted by Cory on 1/24/05 at 12:07 PM. ( )

I too have the book recommended by old fart. I thought it was an excellent book. But like any book or video I think you have to take them all with a grain of salt. There are so many ways to train a retriever that it can get confusing. Happy Training.

Marty is right

This response submitted by Becky P on 1/24/05 at 12:35 PM. ( )

No field champ here, just want it to obey and bring in the ducks.
We are open to any suggestions. I would have normally researched more before we got it, but the opportunity arouse, so we took advantage of it. We have been talking about getting one, just wasn't planning on it being so soon. BP

Training and Force Breaking

This response submitted by OJ on 1/24/05 at 1:16 PM. ( )

Boks and videos are great, but I would reccomend sending the dog for at least a little while to a professional. The money spent is more than worth it. The pro will train your dog, and train you as well. You will learn the basics of how it SHOULD be done, which will help you be consistent. He/she may also recommend some books or videos that match their style of training. You cant ask you book questions, but your trainer will help with all sorts of questions. You dont need to have a "Field Champion" to use a pro. The level of enjoyment for the next 10-12 years of hunting over a polished dog makes the cost a no-brainer. The things you and your dog learn will make you a better trainer and your next dog may require less time at a pro. Lets not forget the shear # of birds your dog will see at training. If you dont send your dog for a several week program, you could also opt for private sessions for you and the dog with a trainer. The trainer will teach you and the dog as you go.

On force fetching. Every bird dog should be force fetch trained. Period. I know many dogs retrieve naturally- As long as they WANT TO. A force broke dog retrieves when it is told, every time, with out question. The difference between a forced out dog and one who isnt: Dog A isnt forced out. He retrieves naturally and loves birds. One day he decides the water is to cold or the mark is too far for his liking and he simply looks at you when told to fetch em up. "Not today Dad, lets go to the truck." Dog A may also refuse some blind retrieves as well, cuz he didnt see the fall. Dog B was forced out. In 15 degree weather he hits the water hard and retrieves birds that would have been lost. In the uplands he holds his birds, delivers to hand, never drops em to check out something else and is reliable as can be. Sooner or later an unforced dog WILL refuse you!

Force Fetching is not that hard on a dog. Have a competant pro show you his techniques. Yes- there is some mild pain compliance. But it is more discomfort than anything. Keep in mind a dogs pain tolerence- My Spaniel ran hard with a gash in his chest that required 14 staples to close. I didnt how bad he was hurt until we got back to the truck. I also saw a pointer win a field trial with a 9 inch laceration to her head. She wasnt even fazed by it. A little ear pinch or electronic stimulation isnta big issue for dogs. Force Fetching is more a battle of wills than it is being hard on a dog. Forcing should not be done by the inexperienced.

Thats my two cents. Have the pup forced out when its old enough. Speak with a pro about a training program to get your buddy started. Take it from there.

Water Dog

This response submitted by pup on 1/24/05 at 1:57 PM. ( )

I'm with Cur and Dawn, Water Dog is the way to go.

OJ I understand what you're saying about Force Fetching...

This response submitted by marty on 1/24/05 at 2:28 PM. ( )

I just wish they would come up with a better term for it. Because depending on the dog, there are all levels of approaches to "force fetching". Some methods that some old timers used were not the way I would go about it.

My pooch knew she had to get the bird no matter where it fell. And she never let me down. Now I know I'm only basing my experiences off of a couple of dogs I've trained so by no means am I an expert.

My current Lab would need to be "force fetched" via traditional methods. She's stubborn. In fact during some Upland hunts I had a borrowed training collar for the first time and had to hit her with the highest setting when she got out too far. And keep it on until she turned and came back. Manytimes she would just stop and look back and give me this nasty look!

Whereas with my first Lab whom I spent much more time with, she understood who was boss. If she dropped her training dummy or stopped coming in with it she was corrected immediately. And when it camr to birds there was so much desire there she would never think twice about bringing it to me. Icy water was not a problem. But we spent a lot of time together building upon each command.

I'll agree that every dog needs to be "force fetched" to some extent. To what extent is the question. There should be different terminology for different levels. My first Lab didn't need much to push her in the right direction. I say build upon commands and correct (while in the act) accordingly depending on the level of correction your pup needs. But if you're doing your job as a trainer correctly, you shouldn't need to correct the pooch all that much. And the punishment should be just enough to get the point across. Training collars help immensely. Set the dog up to succeed, not fail and build upon it.

Also, I would choose a trainer very, very carefully. If you have time read the books and do it yourself and only use a trainer as needed. Which will happen. As OJ said they will train you. I firmly believe you and your dog will learn more by diving in and using a trainer as needed vs. dumping your dog and then picking it up "X" amount of time later. You will have learned nothing...

Becky, Here's an option for later on

This response submitted by Jan George on 1/24/05 at 4:05 PM. ( )

My cousin in Greensburg, KY, teaches swift water rescue. He has become a dog trainer in recent years after seeing how well they worked in the water. His dogs now will turn lights on and off, get you drinks out of the fridge or a cooler, bring in firewood, count money, scratch your "fleas" for you, pull the clay pigeon shooter, etc. I realize this is not hunting material, but he has some books, and CD's and DVD's on basic training. You might find these very interesting. His dogs were on David Letterman and have been on Animal Planet. It's fun stuff. The website is
Jan George


This response submitted by wilson on 1/24/05 at 5:33 PM. ( )

I;m with cur 'water dog' is the best

agree w / old fart

This response submitted by kato on 1/24/05 at 10:48 PM. ( )

Training Your Retreiver by James Lamb Frre ...... you cant go wrong


This response submitted by OJ on 1/25/05 at 9:50 AM. ( )

I dont want to beat a dead horse here, but I will make a last comment or two

Yep, you can train a bird dog with no experience using books and videos. You will end up with a decent product. You can also buy a video or a book and mount a deer head. Anyone out there remember what their first mount looked like after watching a video or two. Decent but not what you would be satisfied with now.

I have been priviledged hunt over some dogs with great ability, many with great training, and a few with both.

I have also had the misfortune of hunting over a bunch of dogs that the owners THOUGHT were just incredible. Fact was, many of those were unbearable. Some do no ability or drive. Most of the flunkies though were simply not trained properly, despite the owners belief otherwise. I even see dogs on those Sat morning sporting shows that drive me nuts. Pointers that wont hold a point on flushed birds, retrievers that spit birds at your feet. And those are dogs featured on TV!

Point is, a lot of folks dont quite grasp what they are even shooting for when they train. A pro can help you with that. The owner has to be involved in the process, and continue the program when the dog comes home. The average joe just doesnt have the birds, the time, the tools, the experience, or the patience to produce a top notch, well rounded, dog that will be a pleasure for you(and others) to hunt over.

Becky, the #1 thing is have fun, enjoy your new partner, and make every day count. Its not fair that they are only with us such a short time.


This response submitted by Becky P on 1/25/05 at 10:13 AM. ( )

Thanks to everyone for your time and experience.
Seems to be as many opinions on this subject as there are on the to tan or not to tan debate. LOL
Thanks again,

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