A Labrador Retriever Struggling Retrieving Birds (video) - Advice Appreciated

walk213

Member

Josey is a 15 month old Labrador Retriever. She is the niece to my 4.5 year old, Echo. Josey has been through some formal training that included force fetching techniques. We worked with Josey all summer on her retrieving to hand, and holding the bumper. She has come a long way as bumper work did not come naturally. Echo demands to be thrown to at least once a day. Josey (slowly) picked up on what the game is all about, and she improved throughout summer.

This was our first "hunt" together. As you see, her nose is fine, but her desire to retrieve downed birds is suboptimal. We will continue to work on this critical behavior. I never thought that a Labrador Retriever would struggle retrieving.

  • Any advice would be appreciated.
  • My shots are no where near Josey - the GoPro does not accurately display depth well
  • Our commands are - fetch or name, here, heel, sit, hold
Thank you in advance.
 

jonnyB

Active member
Nasty/G,

Good looking dog - does everything well: hunts, good nose, finds the bird after it's down...and...sometimes brings it back. At 1.5 years, the dog seems to be getting the hang of it.

I would avoid commanding her to sit, hold et al, unless you plan to go into field trials; perhaps integrate those commands later. I would focus on one command - FETCH. Make it fun. Some dogs seem to take longer at some tasks. Your dog finds the bird! Good show!

In the video, it appeared the dog continually picked up the bird and dropped it...sort of played with it. This is not good and can lead to hard mouth...

Good luck and safe hunting!
 

walk213

Member
Nasty/G,

Good looking dog - does everything well: hunts, good nose, finds the bird after it's down...and...sometimes brings it back. At 1.5 years, the dog seems to be getting the hang of it.

I would avoid commanding her to sit, hold et al, unless you plan to go into field trials; perhaps integrate those commands later. I would focus on one command - FETCH. Make it fun. Some dogs seem to take longer at some tasks. Your dog finds the bird! Good show!

In the video, it appeared the dog continually picked up the bird and dropped it...sort of played with it. This is not good and can lead to hard mouth...

Good luck and safe hunting!
Thank you for the detailed response. We will focus only on fetch. I try to make it fun for her, but I am a bit frustrated. A lab that does not retrieve?!

She actually will lick the bird. I have not seen that before.

I am going to hunt her with Echo. Echo can find a single bird in a half section. She retrieves to hand. Perhaps Josey will figure it out.

I appreciate the advice.
 

BrownDogsCan2

Active member
I struggled with mine. I took it off the ground. Would have her retrieve to a portable scaffolding, the top of the dog box, and an elevated dog blind, platform. Took me out of the equation and challenged her brain. Helped a ton.
 

walk213

Member
I struggled with mine. I took it off the ground. Would have her retrieve to a portable scaffolding, the top of the dog box, and an elevated dog blind, platform. Took me out of the equation and challenged her brain. Helped a ton.
Do you have a video or pictures? Thank you for the advice.
 
Thank you. Believe it or not, she has been force fetched. Didn't take.

If it "didn't take", then she has NOT been Force Fetched. Your statement is the process vs. th actual state of being conditioned to retrieve to the point of compulsion on a single given command. I watched the video clip and have offered my take on the matter on a different site. Your Josey is most definitely NOT FF conditioned. Several major holes in your training that need to be addressed or they will continue to haunt you. The good news is that they are correctable, but you will need to "back up" in training and address them.

Best of luck with it as she is a nice dog.

Chers,
Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸
 

walk213

Member
If it "didn't take", then she has NOT been Force Fetched. Your statement is the process vs. th actual state of being conditioned to retrieve to the point of compulsion on a single given command. I watched the video clip and have offered my take on the matter on a different site. Your Josey is most definitely NOT FF conditioned. Several major holes in your training that need to be addressed or they will continue to haunt you. The good news is that they are correctable, but you will need to "back up" in training and address them.

Best of luck with it as she is a nice dog.

Chers,
Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸
Thank you for the insight, Mike. Other than force fetching, what are the other holes that I have to work on? I will need to attempt to employ some of the techniques that I watched on YouTube. I probably need time with a professional trainer as well. Admittedly, my dog training skills are limited.
 
Thank you for the insight, Mike. Other than force fetching, what are the other holes that I have to work on? I will need to attempt to employ some of the techniques that I watched on YouTube. I probably need time with a professional trainer as well. Admittedly, my dog training skills are limited.

I posted a reply to your inquiry on UJ. Take a look at it there and let me know your thoughts on what I have pointed out. I will be glad to elaborate further if needed.

Cheers,
Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸
 

jonnyB

Active member
I posted a reply to your inquiry on UJ. Take a look at it there and let me know your thoughts on what I have pointed out. I will be glad to elaborate further if needed.

Cheers,
Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸
Mike: What is "UJ" - would like to read your suggestions. thanks.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
Looks like lots of holes in the training process and a confused dog. A force fetched dog that has been taught basic obedience will pick up a bird and deliver to heel without any commands given. The video you posted shows what happens when you don't follow a particular program. You have to have a start and an end point that is broken down into segments. It doesn't matter whether your training program is Lardy, Stawski, Graham, or even Milner, it is a step by step process. Taken bits or pieces from different methods leads to a confused dog and a frustrated owner. You have to set your goals for the dog then map out the process you will use to get there. "Our commands are - fetch or name, here, heel, sit, hold" it does no good to bark this out at the dog as the dog has not been properly taught the commands. Searching for bits and pieces on You Tube is not a training program. Pick one and start over. Personally I would stop hunting the dog and begin training. Not what you want to hear but you asked for advice. Buy a copy of Rick Stawski's DVD it will get you going in the right direction.
 
Mike: What is "UJ" - would like to read your suggestions. thanks.
JonnyB,

Here is the exact reply / recommendations as I had posted on UJ. Let me know ye thoughts on them once you have read them please. 👍

Cheers,
Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

"Aye Mate,
I just viewed the clip of Josey. Several things jumped out at me as problematic. First, let me start in saying that my commentary is meant to be constructive and not to be construed as mean spirited in any regard.

You mention that Josey has had "some force fetching that included force fetching techniques". I don't know whom did your FF, but it has not been done to the point of her having been adequately Force Fetch conditioned as is evidenced by her blinking birds, refusing to pick them up, and dropping them on the way back to you. Her retrieve is unreliable and if Force Fetch conditioned completely, she would be fetching reliably by compulsion.

As for "formal training", there are obvious holes in basic obedience RECALL being again unreliable as is demonstrated by her ignoring your command to recall.

Given my observations mentioned, yourself as her "handler" is a major part of the problem in your repeating of a command numerous times with little to zero compliance / response from your retriever, doing so is effectively conditioning her to ignore your commands and there is no consequence for her not doing so.

The upside is she has bird drive and is quartering and using her nose. The downside is she is near totally blowing you off with regard to commands issued. Review your clip and count to yourself how many times you are issuing the same command with zero compliance and that should be a major RED FLAG for why you are experiencing problems. Additionally, your issue of commands are presented using a mixing of verbal commands for the same desired response or behavior, (example the use of HERE AND COME ON for RECALL) - verbal commands should remain consistent to be meaningful to the retriever.

In all reality, I would recommend a restart with solidification of Josey specific to basic obedience and progressing to the point of formal obedience training to establish her foundation. That should then be backed up with e-collar conditioning and reinforcement of compliance of trained behaviors I would then follow up with a fully completed program of HOLD and FORCE FETCH conditioning.

The holes in your training are largely apparent and will only continue to degrade and create other problems. My observations specific to the interaction between yourself and Josey would indicate that your experience regarding basic level training concepts and comprehension of how K9's learn is minimal and quite honestly seems grossly misunderstood. Your reaching out for help is admirable and a first step to remediation of the situation.

Not sure if you "self trained" or utilized a pro. Either way, I would recommend you find yourself a good pro based on my observations and have him or her observe you handling Josey. Make notes on the problems you want addressed and work with the pro in the development of yourself as a more proficient handler. 👍

I hope you find these recommendations helpful. Good luck to you".

Cheers,
THE DOG WHISTLER ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸
 

walk213

Member
Looks like lots of holes in the training process and a confused dog. A force fetched dog that has been taught basic obedience will pick up a bird and deliver to heel without any commands given. The video you posted shows what happens when you don't follow a particular program. You have to have a start and an end point that is broken down into segments. It doesn't matter whether your training program is Lardy, Stawski, Graham, or even Milner, it is a step by step process. Taken bits or pieces from different methods leads to a confused dog and a frustrated owner. You have to set your goals for the dog then map out the process you will use to get there. "Our commands are - fetch or name, here, heel, sit, hold" it does no good to bark this out at the dog as the dog has not been properly taught the commands. Searching for bits and pieces on You Tube is not a training program. Pick one and start over. Personally I would stop hunting the dog and begin training. Not what you want to hear but you asked for advice. Buy a copy of Rick Stawski's DVD it will get you going in the right direction.
I appreciate your feedback. Obviously, we have a material issue with Josey, and the training that she has participated in to date. I need to get better with training. This situation was unexpected as Echo (4.5 years old) is obedient and effective after going through the same "program". We will start again and we will work on basic obedience. I will need guidance with the force fetch component as I don't know how to do it.

I cannot hunt her as the process would stress both of us.

Just to be clear, my trainer's advice contradicts everyone else's feedback. Not ideal.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
I appreciate your feedback. Obviously, we have a material issue with Josey, and the training that she has participated in to date. I need to get better with training. This situation was unexpected as Echo (4.5 years old) is obedient and effective after going through the same "program". We will start again and we will work on basic obedience. I will need guidance with the force fetch component as I don't know how to do it.

I cannot hunt her as the process would stress both of us.

Just to be clear, my trainer's advice contradicts everyone else's feedback. Not ideal.
Like I said get a copy of Rick Stawski's DVD. You can't begin force fetch until you have done basic obedience. You are looking at 6 weeks. I would stop all retrieving until you have been through a solid force fetch program including hold, ear pinch, stick fetch, and collar fetch. You have to force by giving the dog a gloved finger, a dowel, a buck, a dummy, frozen, bird, and live bird. First choose which program and philosophy you want to follow that best fits your dog and your goals. Where are you located? Maybe we could steer you to someone who could help you.
 

walk213

Member
Like I said get a copy of Rick Stawski's DVD. You can't begin force fetch until you have done basic obedience. You are looking at 6 weeks. I would stop all retrieving until you have been through a solid force fetch program including hold, ear pinch, stick fetch, and collar fetch. You have to force by giving the dog a gloved finger, a dowel, a buck, a dummy, frozen, bird, and live bird. First choose which program and philosophy you want to follow that best fits your dog and your goals. Where are you located? Maybe we could steer you to someone who could help you.
I watched a video hosted by Rick Stawski.

Ironically, he repeats his sit command multiple times with reinforcement via the e-collar. Most of the advice I have been provided tells me that I should only say the command once.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
LOL yea he is terrible. Like I said, viewing bits and pieces will do you no good. Your looking at Fowl Dawgs 2. It will take 6 months of training to get a dog to that level, that is a handling video. Pick a program and study the complete program. Your hunting and pecking on you tube is a waste of time. Good luck to you!
 

Gatzby

Member
You’re not going to like what I have to say, and I will come off more harshly than is intended. I only watched the first couple minutes before I had to turn it off. Obviously you were nervous and frustrated, take a deep breath and a step back.
You said every command known to man to that dog and she understands none of them. Train the poor dog so she has the opportunity for success. Stop hunting her, solidify obedience, and FF her (note I didn’t say use some FF techniques). Than quit saying whoa whoa whoa, fetch fetch it up, good dog, get it, fetch, etc. Give a command, and expect a response. If you don’t get the response you need to train more.
PS when Rick Stawski or ((Stoney Burke) a couple of you might get this reference) says sit twice he is bracketing a E collar correction. This very standard and accepted training procedure going all the way back to Rex Carr. IE “sit” (collar nick) “sit”.
 

Labs

Active member
Concur 100% with Irish Whistler and Gatzby....
 
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