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WildFan10

6 month old British Lab - Getting Bored?

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I have a 6 month old British Lab. I have been working a lot with her on the basics and she is getting them down well. However, this week, all of a sudden, it seems like she has gotten bored with retrieving dummies. I am not sure if she has just gotten bored with them or what the deal is. She waits until I give her the "BACK" command, I send her, and she just runs up to it and ignores it or goes off in another direction. I am a little worried about it because she should be excited to retrieve! I have scented the dummies and have tried one with pheasant feathers on it. She loves that one, but is more interested in trying to rip the feathers off than to actually bring it back to me. Could I be forcing things too much? Does anyone have any tips I could use to get her excited about dummies again. She loves to retrieve them in the house, but outside she seems to get distracted pretty easily. A lot of this is probably age, but you never know. She is my first gun dog and I am training her myself (first time as well). Anyone have any thoughts/tips? She will be a little under 7 months on pheasant opener. Is this too soon to take her out? Thanks guys.

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Could I ask are you using conventional training methods or are you following a "British" training program? If you are using standard gun dog training I will let others step in and comment.

I will say my British went through that stage around that age as well. He is 4 1/2 now and believe me he is a retrieving machine. Mine did not see the field the first year and he was around 7 months as well during his first hunting season.

I used and am still using a British training regimen so if you are looking for guidance along those lines I will be happy to provide you with some information.

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I'm a new dog owner and far from an expert but we have a couple brit labs and think they are awesome animals(a 2.5 yr old and now a 7mo old, both females).

I agree w/ Dbl and think that at that age of 7 monthes of age the dog may be a little young to expect much for hunting.

At that age best thing to do is key in on fun, not work. We took our older dog out to the dakotas at 7 monthes old and it was excitement overload (too many birds and too much chaos, her eyes rolled back in her head and she frothed at the mouth and ran all over like a blood thirty zombie!).I wasn't sure she'd figure it out, but that fall my father-in-law trained the older dog and she is now a machine. Last year she had over 30 retrieves, can't wait to see how she does this year.

If you play fetch do it once or twice w/ lots of praise and then quit so the dog still wants more, make sure you quit early and on a good note even if it is only a short retrieve otherwise the dog may think it's ok to give up early and goof off. Give lots of praise when its on task and walk backwards to keep her comming towards you w/ the dummy. If you take her out hunting, it might be a good idea to keep her teathered at heel to avoid distraction and hopefully it will see the flush and shot and then mark bird, let her go and see what happens.

We'll be taking the 7 mo old out west this year but won't be expecting much other than some fun.

I think your dog will end up a fine hunter if given enough time, have fun and good luck!

redhooks

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Thanks for the reply. Interesting to know your British went through the same phase. I had mine out tonight over at the gun club getting her used to the gun noise. Luckily, she doesn't seem to be gun shy at all. I threw a few dummies for her there and she only wanted to retrieve about 3 of them and that was it. When yours went through that phase, did you sort of just wait it out? Do anything different or change your training? I have heard to take a couple of days off and come back to it again. Heard they may be excited about retrieving again after that little break. Have you heard that? So, you didn't take yours out in the field at all that first year? I am getting anxious, but I know I shouldn't rush it. When did you start yours on live birds? I would appreciate any information you may have about a British training program. Thanks!

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Can I ask you guys where you got your British labs? I know there are only a few breeders in MN that specialize in those breeding lines and curious to know if I maybe got mine from the same place.

I am doing a pretty good job at being consistent with what I am doing an using a lot of praise. Mine really has the sit, stay, and come down pretty well....just need to get her a little bit more fired up about working with the dummies. These dogs are bred to retrieve, so I am not too worried. Just a little disheartening at times because you want the dog to "get it" right away. Thanks guys. Any other info. for a first time gun dog owner/trainer would be appreciated.

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This was my first dog using only British training methods and at 4 1/2 years old and still learning I don't think I would have done anything different. It does require a bit more patience from the trainer not necessarily the dog! But I found it to be a very rewarding experience.

I just would not be that concerned with the retrieving at this point, your dog as you mentioned has the breeding to retrieve, that is one of the strong traits of the British Lab. I am a believer in obedience and ingraining that into their life before retrieving.

Most British trainers will not be to concerned with any field work outside of obedience in a dog younger than nine months. The goal is a steady, quiet, retrieving dog that we want so let him develop at his natural pace. Right now he isn't all that interested in retrieving, so be it, he will be.

This becomes more of a problem for the trainer not the trainee, you think you should be throwing dummies he should be retrieving. Can he walk on a leash, heel, come on command, stay? At this point he should be very consistent with those tasks. Without obedience training a dogs instincts are just instincts. And they are not much good until they can be turned, shaped and encouraged to our advantage through training.

While working on obedience find an area in his training he is showing interest. Does he like swimming, chasing a ball, maybe a dummy with a wing on it. Exploit that to get that interest sparked again in retrieving dummies. Throw a ball in the water , put a dummy in a bush and let him try and find it, something that will get him going again.

Just have some play time, no obedience no retrieving. Bounce a ball on the ground, encourage him to play. Throw the ball and when he gets it run with him briefly and fall on the ground and hope the dog plays with you a minute. It may not work the first or second day but give it a chance.

Another thing I did and still do occasionally was throw five dummies (not all at once) and I picked up four of them. It reinforces the sit, stay and the fact that just because something falls from the sky the dog may not be going anywhere. I also found the dog became more interested in getting a chance at retrieving his own dummy after watching me have all the fun of picking them up. Vary the time to send on retrieve, try and gage what the dogs interest level is during those time periods. You may find at first you need to send the the dog sooner than later because of his interest.

I agree with 311Hemi on gun clubs, proper introduction to gun fire is critical, IMHO gun clubs are not a good way to do that.

Relax, your dog is learning his boundaries and testing yours he is a very young adult. Learn one of the British Labs best traits, patience, he will come around.

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Forgot to mention since you asked about more information on British style training. The best book out there currently addressing this training style I think is "British Training for American Retrievers" by Vic Barlow.

Dennis Anderson of the Star and Tribune also has a web site for his dogs that has an on-line training option. I signed up for it for the first year I owned my dog and found it to be an excellent resource.

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Dbl has some great advice, most importantly be patient, it'll all come together.

Yeah my 2 yr old through the same phase and now our 7 mo is doing it, no big deal, my father-in-law doesn't start training until they are almost a year. I've heard the biggest thing is to build a bond w/ the dog so it will aim to please, keep it short and simple with lots of praise. You can play fetch w/ a rolled up sock in a hallway so the dog is confined to a narrow corridor.

We got our dogs from father-in-law, he breeds/trains english springers and brit labs in Grand Forks. We bought a book by Robert Milner called "Retriever Training: A Back To Basics Approach" lots of good stuff in the book.

Right now I'm working on sit, stay,come,heel with our pup-next will be obedience and then hunt training. The more groundwork laid out early the easier things will be down the road.

redhooks

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Ive always trained my labs my self, and one thing I will add is you dont ever want to get frusterated and force training on your dog! Just because you want training time doesnt mean the dog does. Do it when the dog is willing.

At that age, like they said, just get him to have fun, praise him, love him, and the desire to please you will come!

Also, Im a firm believer in 100% positive reinforcement! Labs are so passionate and live to please. Love him to death, in time pleasing you will be all he lives for and "no praise" will be the dogs worst fear.

Good luck!

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