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Old 06-29-2017, 06:41 PM   #1
Whosure
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Default Retreiver training

I have never owned a retriever or trained a dog before. I have a hard enough time training my wife's chihuahua to sit when we put the leash on for a walk.

Is it really that beneficial to have a new pup go to a trainer and get the basic and advanced training courses done or is it okay to do it yourself in the backyard? How long does the basic and advanced courses last and what are the costs associated with them?

I hear about the time and work you must do with the dog every month. What are some of the training items that everyone does? How often do you train each week and what is the duration? Is it about bonding or is there fine tuning that is ironed out during these sessions?
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:53 PM   #2
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Tuned in for responses


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Old 06-29-2017, 06:57 PM   #3
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I have never owned a retriever or trained a dog before. I have a hard enough time training my wife's chihuahua to sit when we put the leash on for a walk.



Is it really that beneficial to have a new pup go to a trainer and get the basic and advanced training courses done or is it okay to do it yourself in the backyard? How long does the basic and advanced courses last and what are the costs associated with them?



I hear about the time and work you must do with the dog every month. What are some of the training items that everyone does? How often do you train each week and what is the duration? Is it about bonding or is there fine tuning that is ironed out during these sessions?


I have a two and a half year old lab that I trained. She's a gem! Hunts harder than me and loves to retrieve. I taught her everything she knows. She's not a national hunt test champion but she has all the potential to be. When I picked her up at 7 weeks she was already retrieving live shackled pigeons.

What I can tell you is that you need to start as soon as possible. And it needs to be every day. EVERY DAY! 2-3 times a day for max 20 mins when they are young. They have a short attention span. Obedience is the most important aspect. If you can't control your dog next to you, you won't be able to control them when hunting or at distance on a blind retrieve. Much less when they are running a double or triple mark retrieve.

I'm no professional but I've read a lot of books, watched hours of videos, and asked a lot of questions. And the last guided hunt I went on mine impressed the guide, a lot. Mainly bc of her obedience and quick snappy response to commands.


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Old 06-29-2017, 07:01 PM   #4
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I prefer to do my own training.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:06 PM   #5
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This was two firsts. Her first goose retrieve and first waterfowl retrieve. Oh, and my fiancÚs first goose!

This was cinco de mayo down at the local watering hole that was pet friendly!


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Old 06-29-2017, 07:07 PM   #6
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I have some videos of me training her but they are on the book of faces and I can't get them on here.


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Old 06-29-2017, 07:15 PM   #7
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Like DapperDan said, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money and end up with a great retriever. They may or may not end up field trials quality, but in my opinion, you don't need a field champion to have a great hunting partner.

I picked my dog up at 12 weeks old and started with him right off the bat. I did all the training myself from reading books and watching videos. The end result was a 2 yr old dog that was force fetched, could run 100-150 yard blinds, mark triples, hold steady, and release by his name only. I could call out several names and he would not leave until I called his name.

After that, I ended up traveling a lot so he stayed with a trainer full time for pretty much 3 years since I had nowhere else to keep him. Needless to say, the trainer didn't have to hardly teach him a thing.

When I worked with him from the time he was a pup till the time he was 2, I usually worked him at least twice a day for a 15-20 minute session. After he was a "finished" dog to my standards, I generally cut it back to once a day or every other day and would just have him run 2 or 3 blinds and call it good.

Bottom line, yes, you can make a great retriever by training them yourself IF, you have time, patience, and persistence.

If you don't have time and patience, you will not enjoy it and neither will your dog.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:19 PM   #8
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I trained my chocolate myself and like other have already stated, keep it short and sweet but often. Hammer home the basic commands as everythjng builds off of these. If the can't do basic commands right they won't be able to build off them. Also if you plan on getting him/her to know hand signs I would intraduce a whistle as soon as possible.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:20 PM   #9
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Like DapperDan said, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money and end up with a great retriever. They may or may not end up field trials quality, but in my opinion, you don't need a field champion to have a great hunting partner.

I picked my dog up at 12 weeks old and started with him right off the bat. I did all the training myself from reading books and watching videos. The end result was a 2 yr old dog that was force fetched, could run 100-150 yard blinds, mark triples, hold steady, and release by his name only. I could call out several names and he would not leave until I called his name.

After that, I ended up traveling a lot so he stayed with a trainer full time for pretty much 3 years since I had nowhere else to keep him. Needless to say, the trainer didn't have to hardly teach him a thing.

When I worked with him from the time he was a pup till the time he was 2, I usually worked him at least twice a day for a 15-20 minute session. After he was a "finished" dog to my standards, I generally cut it back to once a day or every other day and would just have him run 2 or 3 blinds and call it good.

Bottom line, yes, you can make a great retriever by training them yourself IF, you have time, patience, and persistence.

If you don't have time and patience, you will not enjoy it and neither will your dog.


I never got a chance to force fetch mine. Wish I would have. Not sure if it's too late now..... she runs great blinds and never misses a mark. There are just a few small things that I think force fetch would clean up a bit. Like her not dropping a bird at my feet when she heels. But it's small in the big picture I guess.


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Old 06-29-2017, 07:24 PM   #10
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I never got a chance to force fetch mine. Wish I would have. Not sure if it's too late now..... she runs great blinds and never misses a mark. There are just a few small things that I think force fetch would clean up a bit. Like her not dropping a bird at my feet when she heels. But it's small in the big picture I guess.


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Force fetch in my opinion is simlar to heated leather seats in your vehicle. It's a luxury. It makes it nice and all, but it should t affect your dog bringing you the bird. He/she just may not deliver to hand or he/she may not pick up up on your command.

I can point at a brick and tell mine to fetch, and he will tear his teeth out trying to get it lol.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:33 PM   #11
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All good adavice in the previous posts. IF you want to spend the time learning how to train your dog, you can save a boat load of money, do it yourself and have a solid hunting dog. Read, google, and talk to folks in the know and learn different methods to train and get after it. No reason to pay someone else, unless you just dont have the time to work with the dog. If thats the case, you should probably pay to have her sent off and trained.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:36 PM   #12
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Force fetch in my opinion is simlar to heated leather seats in your vehicle. It's a luxury. It makes it nice and all, but it should t affect your dog bringing you the bird. He/she just may not deliver to hand or he/she may not pick up up on your command.



I can point at a brick and tell mine to fetch, and he will tear his teeth out trying to get it lol.


Well if that's the case then guess mine doesnt need force fetch. She brings it back every time 100% of the time. She just may not hold it for more than 10-15 seconds when she gets back and heels. And if you say fetch, she will kill herself to pick up what you point at especially if it's a bird or bumper. I wish I had somewhere to run her more besides living right in town. I'm very confident if I could work her a bit more she'd get titled as a master hunter. I know she can run a Se test. I've just never did it but I use to train with guys that had all the gear and would set up hunt test training days for the retriever club I was in. And she handled the sr hunt tests pretty much every time.


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Old 06-29-2017, 08:11 PM   #13
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Well if that's the case then guess mine doesnt need force fetch. She brings it back every time 100% of the time. She just may not hold it for more than 10-15 seconds when she gets back and heels. And if you say fetch, she will kill herself to pick up what you point at especially if it's a bird or bumper. I wish I had somewhere to run her more besides living right in town. I'm very confident if I could work her a bit more she'd get titled as a master hunter. I know she can run a Se test. I've just never did it but I use to train with guys that had all the gear and would set up hunt test training days for the retriever club I was in. And she handled the sr hunt tests pretty much every time.


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Sounds like she's doing fine. A true force fetched dog will hold until told to drop/release/give whether it be 10 seconds or 2 minutes. It's not that necessary, although I prefer a deliver to hand while at heel. It also comes in handy if birds are flying and you're trying to reload or grab your call, sometimes the dog may need to hold longer because you can't reach down to pick the bird.

I always wanted to put mine in hunt tests. I figured in his prime, he would make MH, but I never made the time for it. He's now 9 years old and is a back yard pet more than a hunter now, which is a shame on my part. With a growing family and living in a neighborhood, there's just not much time to train and not enough time to hunt like I did in my single days.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:18 PM   #14
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I've had a guy train two Labs for me now and it has been the best money I ever spent. 4 weeks and I can take him to work and put him on the first tee and tell him to "stay" and he will not move until I come back and release him. Dropping off my 7month old choch female Saturday for a month. Sure I've worked on the basic stuff, but not enough time to do it everyday to enforce through repetition. Nothing better than a well behaved dog. Especially when I see how many children run around out there with absolutely ZERO manners or respect. No way I'm letting my dog out in public acting like some of them heathens.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:22 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Sleepy View Post
Force fetch in my opinion is simlar to heated leather seats in your vehicle. It's a luxury. It makes it nice and all, but it should t affect your dog bringing you the bird. He/she just may not deliver to hand or he/she may not pick up up on your command.

I can point at a brick and tell mine to fetch, and he will tear his teeth out trying to get it lol.
^^^^^ x infinity
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:22 PM   #16
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I've had a guy train two Labs for me now and it has been the best money I ever spent. 4 weeks and I can take him to work and put him on the first tee and tell him to "stay" and he will not move until I come back and release him. Dropping off my 7month old choch female Saturday for a month. Sure I've worked on the basic stuff, but not enough time to do it everyday to enforce through repetition. Nothing better than a well behaved dog. Especially when I see how many children run around out there with absolutely ZERO manners or respect. No way I'm letting my dog out in public acting like some of them heathens.


Obedience is key!!!!!! And at three months old I'd sit mine in a field and leave her for 5 mins to 10 mins and walk over 100 yards away. She will only come if you yelled here or blew two whistles. I'd let her get half way and blow one whistle just to make her stop and sit. But through messing with her and making everything a game, she does it now like it's just a regular thing!


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Old 06-29-2017, 09:32 PM   #17
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There's such a wealth of info available it'll leave you baffled!

I joined a Retriever Training Club.
I was going after MH and GMHRCH on mine. Made it to Started and 2 junior passes before I found out my female has hip dysplasia. At 13 or 14 months my male got shot and we ended up amputating his LF leg, ending our competing but not our training.
They're 13 and 11 now. We haven't done much formal training in a while. They're house pets.


I used Mike Larry, Evan Graham and Danny Farmers
material.

This is there life now.
If I'm being honest I'm jealous


Taken 5/16
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:33 PM   #18
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Im in the same shoes as you. Going to try this on my own. One thing a lot of people have said is go to YouTube and watch the Freddy King videos. I will also be ordering a few books to read through. Good look and hope it goes well.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:46 PM   #19
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Im in the same shoes as you. Going to try this on my own. One thing a lot of people have said is go to YouTube and watch the Freddy King videos. I will also be ordering a few books to read through. Good look and hope it goes well.


Videos are ok. Freddy king does a decent job. But if you want books, anything by bill hillman is the gospel when it comes to retrievers. He has several books. Numero uno is "training a retriever puppy". That with another book called water dog by Richard Wolters. This mixed with people that have actually trained dogs and you will end up with a super nice retriever.

The most important aspect is the bloodline has to be there. Now I know some will say that it isn't as important but I've trained a couple and this current lab I have has been absolutely incredible. She practically has it bred in and all I have to do is harness it and guide her in the right direction.


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Old 06-29-2017, 09:51 PM   #20
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Videos are ok. Freddy king does a decent job. But if you want books, anything by bill hillman is the gospel when it comes to retrievers. He has several books. Numero uno is "training a retriever puppy". That with another book called water dog by Richard Wolters. This mixed with people that have actually trained dogs and you will end up with a super nice retriever.

The most important aspect is the bloodline has to be there. Now I know some will say that it isn't as important but I've trained a couple and this current lab I have has been absolutely incredible. She practically has it bred in and all I have to do is harness it and guide her in the right direction.


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This is what a buddy told me who had a nice "papered" lab but no hunting bloodline and sent her to a trainer and trainer said it wasn't worth his time.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:58 PM   #21
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This is what a buddy told me who had a nice "papered" lab but no hunting bloodline and sent her to a trainer and trainer said it wasn't worth his time.


I used to have a nice "papered" lab that worked great for hunting ponds. Short retrieves. I now have a high powered "papered" lab who's momma and daddy are both master hunters and grand master hunter retriever champions as is most of her blood line on both sides going back 4 generations. Her momma was a guide dog in Nebraska and picked up 30 birds a day all season for 7 years. Her daddy is the same and as a 4 year old had already made 3 successful passes at master nationals. And I'm telling you I'm no expert trainer. But this little girl is a stud! I wish I had the money to send her to training or time to work with her more. She blows me away at how fast she learns things and how she NEVER forgets. Honestly, I'm not trying to brag at all. I give all the credit to her. She simply amazes me at times.


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Old 06-29-2017, 10:00 PM   #22
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Videos are ok. Freddy king does a decent job. But if you want books, anything by bill hillman is the gospel when it comes to retrievers. He has several books. Numero uno is "training a retriever puppy". That with another book called water dog by Richard Wolters. This mixed with people that have actually trained dogs and you will end up with a super nice retriever.

The most important aspect is the bloodline has to be there. Now I know some will say that it isn't as important but I've trained a couple and this current lab I have has been absolutely incredible. She practically has it bred in and all I have to do is harness it and guide her in the right direction.


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Just looked up Bill Hillman, $150 for his book/dvd set. Ouch. What does he do so different that the other books?

Already planned on water dog and the 10 minute retriever books.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:04 PM   #23
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Best money I've ever spent to send my to the trainer as pups.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:05 PM   #24
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Just looked up Bill Hillman, $150 for his book/dvd set. Ouch. What does he do so different that the other books?



Already planned on water dog and the 10 minute retriever books.


Bill hillman goes way in depth. He breaks things down and simplifies them on every level. Just about every serious trainer bases their techniques off his. I bought my lab through Derek Randall at the retriever academy in Oklahoma. And he can and does train some beasts of retrievers. And he bases most of his training off bill hillman.

On the flip side, water dog is a great book too. What I can tell you is DO NOT progress to another stage of training until the dog can do what you've taught flawlessly. Also, make it fun and make it into games. Make it short and simple sessions. Every dog is different.


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Old 06-29-2017, 10:07 PM   #25
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Best money I've ever spent to send my to the trainer as pups.


With time, effort, and patience a person can have a great dog started at 6 months. Mine was running double marks at 4 months and triples at 6 with 50 yard blinds. She's never seen a trainer.


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Old 06-29-2017, 10:11 PM   #26
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I second what dapper dan said.
Bill hillman book/video and water dog/book or video. All you need. I got Jack from the Hillmans as a started dog. Finished him with water dog book.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:12 PM   #27
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I will be looking into some of these other books I guess. I have water dog but would like to have as much knowledge as possible. My little pup is 8.5 weeks and has been learning super fast. Spent 5 minutes with him on SIT almost a week ago and he hasn't missed that command once since. Gonna start him on adding the whistle in this weekend.

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Old 06-29-2017, 10:27 PM   #28
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I will be looking into some of these other books I guess. I have water dog but would like to have as much knowledge as possible. My little pup is 8.5 weeks and has been learning super fast. Spent 5 minutes with him on SIT almost a week ago and he hasn't missed that command once since. Gonna start him on adding the whistle in this weekend.

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Need to start on "here". I'd have sit and here down before you move to whistle. Makes it easier. At least it did with mine. Also, work in heel as well. You can teach "stay" but I didn't. Why give a secondary command when you will say "here" to bring them to you. To my dog, sit means sit until told otherwise. Fetching should stArt now too but do not use the word fetch. That will come in later. Fetching is play and fun and a game and a reward. Don't worry if they don't come straight back or goof a little. The bumper is a reward for following a command. You say sit, dog sits, entice the dog by waving bumper and say pup pup pup and toss it. When they pick it up get down to their level and clap and praise them and say pup pup pup and whistle and call their name to keep their attention to come back to you. Remember, habits started now are a hell of a lot harder to break later. I found it way easier to train as a puppy with zero distractions. Once she got solid at the basics I would introduce distractions. Loud noises, people, etc. the ultimate distraction was going to town to work her on marked retrieves in a big dog park with 20 dogs and people running around.... I can tell you it will try your patience! Lol. But I can hunt her in any situation now and she could care less about what is going on around her!

I honestly miss training my dog as a puppy. I loved it and loved the challenge as well as seeing her little brain develop.


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Old 06-29-2017, 10:32 PM   #29
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Get the book Gun Dog, then short training periods, but consistant. With my Labs every day if possible, 15-20 minutes, then play time.
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Old 06-30-2017, 10:09 AM   #30
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With time, effort, and patience a person can have a great dog started at 6 months. Mine was running double marks at 4 months and triples at 6 with 50 yard blinds. She's never seen a trainer.


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I don't doubt it, I didn't say it was the best money you could spend, or the OP, its the best I could have.

Life is busy enough with businesses and kids, trainer gave them the foundation they needed that I didn't have time to.

I've worked them extensively since then. Gundog and Pointing Dogs are two excellent books to read.
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Old 06-30-2017, 06:32 PM   #31
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Just looked up Bill Hillman, $150 for his book/dvd set. Ouch. What does he do so different that the other books?

Already planned on water dog and the 10 minute retriever books.
Bill Hillman was/is the premier trainer of young dogs back 20 +years ago. I never met him but I competed against dogs he had trained and I was impressed. I don't know if he's still training but his book would be very helpful .
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:38 PM   #32
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Force fetch in my opinion is simlar to heated leather seats in your vehicle. It's a luxury. It makes it nice and all, but it should t affect your dog bringing you the bird. He/she just may not deliver to hand or he/she may not pick up up on your command.

I can point at a brick and tell mine to fetch, and he will tear his teeth out trying to get it lol.
Not sure I agree. Some dogs that aren't force fetched will spit a bird mid field and go on another retrieve if they see one go down on way in.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:48 PM   #33
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Not sure I agree. Some dogs that aren't force fetched will spit a bird mid field and go on another retrieve if they see one go down on way in.
That's a gray area in my opinion regarding force fetched. I've seen dogs, including my own that were force fetched that would do that. I think dropping the bird to go for another could be partly lack of force fetched and partly lack of training in the specific area. I had my dog out of that habit in about a week by throwing bumpers on his way in. I would allow him to stop and mark while holding the bird (my personal preference) and then he would bring the first bird back to me. He wouldn't always drop the first bird, but mostly would stop and run to try to get the other one and bring both back at the same time. That, I did not approve of.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:51 PM   #34
Whosure
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Just bought Gun Dog and Water Dog at Barnes and Noble. I will read it when the wife and I go to Seattle to celebrate out honeymoon in Seattle. Thanks for all the advice, it has been extremely educational.
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Old 07-01-2017, 09:16 AM   #35
rferg84
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Just bought Gun Dog and Water Dog at Barnes and Noble. I will read it when the wife and I go to Seattle to celebrate out honeymoon in Seattle. Thanks for all the advice, it has been extremely educational.
Dude you better put the books down and enjoy your trip with your wife.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:07 AM   #36
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LOL...no the books are for the flight up and back and when she watches her real housewives of stupid-ville shows.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:13 AM   #37
DapperDan
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LOL...no the books are for the flight up and back and when she watches her real housewives of stupid-ville shows.


Real housewives? Dude, I'm sorry....


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Old 07-01-2017, 10:26 AM   #38
Whosure
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Why do you think I am on here all the time, LOL.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:27 AM   #39
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Why do you think I am on here all the time, LOL.


Glad my fiancÚ hates all those shows!


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Old 07-01-2017, 11:03 AM   #40
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Evan graham has a book/DVD system that I have heard is very good....better than the waterdog and gun dog books if you are wanting a hunt test capable dog.

The biggest difference I have seen watching dogs who where professionally trained or trained in a HRC group vs diy trained is the "finish" of the dog. What I mean by that is most labs want to retrieve and will do good just getting birds for a typical hunt. I have not seen too many DIY dogs who will honor other dogs, run multiple marks in order every time, 100% steady to shot, and run true blinds (hand signaling included). I have seen a lot of guys who say they have a finished level dog who end up yelling at them all morning in the marsh haha.

I understand some dogs that are self trained will do all of the above, and I also understand that most hunters will say they don't need all that. But if you want a dog that can go run a finished level hunt test you will probably be ahead having a trainer at the very least instill the basics.
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:32 AM   #41
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Evan graham has a book/DVD system that I have heard is very good....better than the waterdog and gun dog books if you are wanting a hunt test capable dog.

The biggest difference I have seen watching dogs who where professionally trained or trained in a HRC group vs diy trained is the "finish" of the dog. What I mean by that is most labs want to retrieve and will do good just getting birds for a typical hunt. I have not seen too many DIY dogs who will honor other dogs, run multiple marks in order every time, 100% steady to shot, and run true blinds (hand signaling included). I have seen a lot of guys who say they have a finished level dog who end up yelling at them all morning in the marsh haha.

I understand some dogs that are self trained will do all of the above, and I also understand that most hunters will say they don't need all that. But if you want a dog that can go run a finished level hunt test you will probably be ahead having a trainer at the very least instill the basics.


Let me know when you want to see my diy dog run. Triples and short blinds and I'll let you pick the order she gets them!


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Old 07-01-2017, 12:00 PM   #42
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Let me know when you want to see my diy dog run. Triples and short blinds and I'll let you pick the order she gets them!


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You seem to have a very well trained dog, not discounting it. Most really good hunting dogs wouldn't pass a finished test due to small technical issues, not big stuff. The dog has to be dang near perfect and the judges are picky. Your dog may be capable of nailing a finished test no problem, but on average that's not going to be true.

Knowing the amount of time and dedication it took to get your dog to where it is, I'm sure you'll agree that it's performance vs other "well trained" dogs is very different and that's because of the time you put in. It comes down to what are your expectations for the dog and what amount of time do you really have to devote to it.

I think it's worth the time to join a HRC group if you train yourself. You will have others you can learn from and do t have to pay for the pro training.
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Old 07-01-2017, 03:19 PM   #43
Whosure
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I think it's worth the time to join a HRC group if you train yourself. You will have others you can learn from and do t have to pay for the pro training.
Hmmm never thought of that, might be worthwhile for me to join a group even if I have the pup trained, so I can see how experienced owners handle retrieves and provide more realistic training scenarios.
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Old 07-01-2017, 03:32 PM   #44
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Hmmm never thought of that, might be worthwhile for me to join a group even if I have the pup trained, so I can see how experienced owners handle retrieves and provide more realistic training scenarios.


You will get a ton of practical knowledge in a club. Most people in the clubs are training for hunt test but you don't have to. You will also be able to learn from others mistakes which may help more than anything.

My best friend has a chocolate dog that runs fished test great, which he self trained, but he had the help of a few trainers that are in the club.
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Old 07-01-2017, 04:31 PM   #45
DapperDan
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You seem to have a very well trained dog, not discounting it. Most really good hunting dogs wouldn't pass a finished test due to small technical issues, not big stuff. The dog has to be dang near perfect and the judges are picky. Your dog may be capable of nailing a finished test no problem, but on average that's not going to be true.

Knowing the amount of time and dedication it took to get your dog to where it is, I'm sure you'll agree that it's performance vs other "well trained" dogs is very different and that's because of the time you put in. It comes down to what are your expectations for the dog and what amount of time do you really have to devote to it.

I think it's worth the time to join a HRC group if you train yourself. You will have others you can learn from and do t have to pay for the pro training.


Joining a HRC group is a must! And I'm very annal so I expect perfection!


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