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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need more dog advice. Seriously! First 3 days of the early opener, my boy Ruger, was absolutely on top of every goose that dropped. He heard a shot and was in the water looking for a retrieve. I thought it was great. On the third day of the evening hunt we heard shots from up river and Ruger instantly went in the water looking for a bird, I tried to call him off, and he would not return. He was frantic looking for something to bring back..he brought me back a carp. (chuckle a little) my two hunting patners thought it was hilarious. Not so funny to me on day 4,5,& 6 when he won't even respond to his collar. Every time he hears a shot, at our blind or up river he is in the water looking for anything to bring back..geese, ducks, deeks, mudpuppies, swans swimming by, you name it, and he brings them right back to me at the blind. How the heck do I fix this??? I brought him out alone the last 3 days to try to remedy the problem but now he is getting confused. Everyone that saw the problem thinks its funny, not when your dog brings you back a really ****** off swan and lets the goose you dropped head out into the channel. What the heck do I do???????
 

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Don't think you can fix this problem in the field. Your dog has to understand that the shot means whoa. The retrieve has to be on your command. Training and practice. In a young dog, they show desire when they break and chase on the flush of a bird or the sound of your shotgun. As you develop your dog, you have to work on keeping them steady to wing and/or shot, and retrieve on your command. It's much safer for your dog and better for you and your fellow hunters. You may have to use a pinch collar or short lead at first so Ruger can't take off. As long as he understands whoa, you can train him to hold the blind until you want him to retrieve. It may be helpful to have someone else with you to shoot so you can work with your dog. Do you have a command for when Ruger is supposed to retrieve? Start tossing dummies out and don't release him until you give him the command. Once he can sit there and wait for the command, hold him and introduce gunfire. He'll catch on. Sounds like he has a great desire to retrieve for you.
 

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You didn't advise your dogs age, it's training level, and what, if any, program you used. These are all critical to giving you more than a general answer.

Steadiness goes directly back to poor or non-existent Basic OB. I'm going to take a guess that you didn't train your dog following a program. Failing to fully train & follow a program sooner or later bites a guy in the butt, when the dog decides to do what he wants and you have no foundation or tools to correct it.

I also might hazard a guess your dog is young, maybe too young to actually be hunting yet. As a rule it takes 16-24 months to take a 7 week old pup through most programs, so realistically their first actual hunting season is when they are around 18 months old.

Basic OB is the foundation of all training. This is where the dog is taught that you are in control of his actions and to stay where he's put until released or sent on a mark. In effect, your dog has learned that whether or not he sits still and when he takes off on a retieve is his decision, not your's. It sounds like you let him do this, so his failing is directly your fault as you have reinforced it by giving him tactic permission to break.

I'm going to guess that from your description he hasn't been taught to Handle, either. As such, you have no method to communicate with and direct him when he's away from your side. Once he's away from your side, he can just do what he wants, i.e. look for something/anything to retrieve because it's fun, not a task to be done for you as you direct.

Hopefully you have actually Force Fetched/Collar Conditioned your dog, and didn't just put an ecollar on him, so that you have a tool in place to correct him that he understands if he's not at your side. If not you are at a training disadvantage and virtually helpless to control him in the field once he leaves your side.

You need to go back to Basic OB. If you haven't formally trained OB, it will take about 4 weeks to put in place. If you have, then you need a couple weeks of OB reinforcement, until he's rock solid.

Then Basic Marks where the dog doesn't move until sent on the retrieve. Use the ecollar if he breaks, put him back in place, then go get the bumper yourself. If you haven't actually CC'ed your dog, you can stake him with a 4' lead. He'll hit the end if he breaks, you then correct him, put him back at heel, then again YOU go and pick up the mark.

Once you have him steady at this level, re-introduce the shooting the shotgun prior to being sent. As he's using the shot as his signal to take off, not your command, expect him to back slide & break. Keeping working as described above.

Nothing a gundog hates worse than not being allowed to make a retrieve
and nothing reinforces steadiness better. Also, the dog has to know that every mark isn't his by default.

I think it's fairly safe to say you probably have the better part of 8 weeks of twice a day training ahead of you to fix this. NO hunting for him until you do. Don't hunt him again until he's steady, then for a few times have someone else do the shooting; your job will be only to work with your dog.

Personally, I hate dogs that break & have poor OB and refuse to hunt with them, hurt feelings be damned...
 

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one more comment its a lot to ask when a guy with a dog has only a few weeks to hunt each year not to do so.

NDs advice is sound, but I will add you can continue to hunt the dog by bringing a stout stake and chain and staking him behind you so he can mark birds. Then you can work him this year, let him watch and only let him retrieve every third kill of so, he will learn he only goes went hes sent.

Its would help if you had another dog to send that was steady so you canould alternate them.

And like I said NDs advice is the right answer I just wouldn't want to leave my dog home when the season will be over in 8 weeks
 

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If you do decide to hunt him in the near future (and even for a while after you have him steady at home on bumpers), I would suggest staking him down on a short leash. Then, release him whenever he has a retrieve to make.
 

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As the other guys said, you can stake the dog when hunting. Even the best can break when the action is hot & heavy, so many guys with gundog saavy have a stake & 4' lead in the goose trailer, myself included.

However, staking a dog in the field doesn't fix the problem, it is merely a short term action to keep a Started but inexperienced dog, or a Finished dog who might momentarily forget his training, safe & from screwing up a hunt. And make no mistake, your dog has a training deficiency that can be corrected, but not by staking it in the field.

Hunting is not the place to train, period. You can reinforce training that is in place with "trainable moments" that arise in the field, but hunting is the stage to perform, not put training in place.

Sounds very much to me like you have an issue that needs to be corrected before you hunt the dog again, and I'll stand by that opinion.

This may or may not apply here, but it it so common it's always good advice. Many inexperienced/new gundog trainers/owners push their dogs too fast and hunt them before they are ready. Most everyone with some training experience did this early on, myself included. Nothing good comes of it, The usual outcome is at best, having to go back & revisit training thus taking taking even more time, or at worst, a ruined dog....
 

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Thanks guys for keeping it positive :beer:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A little background...Ruger is five. I have been training him myself since he was a pup. I did research and asked a lot of questions of men who have trained good bird dogs. On many of occasion I asked them to come over and help me and give me advice. For the first two years I worked on OB at home, while I was gaining experience in bird hunting myself. Unfortunately, the two old fellas that were helping me with Ruger have since passed on. Last season, Ruger was by no means perfect, but I was told he did well. Basically, he sat in the blind until I sent him on a retrieve. I am quite proud of him actually, I don't expect a champion, he is my hunting partner, and we have been learning together. I just want to get him to do his job and bring back birds that I have dropped when he is supposed to, like he had been doing until the last week.

When at home he is still on par with his obedience, holds, commands, retrieving..that is until he hears a gunshot. Do I just keep on instilling the basics for awhile, without the gun?

The two blinds I most often hunt are on stilts in the water, what would I stake him too??

I appreciate all the comments and advice. I took notes and plan to see what will work best for Ruger and I. I also appreciate your patience if you find my questions redundant or simple. I am learning on my own hear once again and trying to do right by Ruger as well. I got a lab to hunt with me and be by my side, I won't take the hunt away from him.
 

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Sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp on things from the comments already given above.

Regarding something to stake him to... If you're hunting timber with the dog stand you could tie him out to a tree but make sure you're paying attention to the dog. My personal preference is to put the gun down and work your dog on a couple hunts. Invite some friends to come hunting with you, maybe a kid. Let them have fun and you work the dog. Nothing better than giving training to a dog in a real environment.
 

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OK, I'll take it from your description that you did not follow a program, but did, with no disrespect, hit & miss training with emphasis on OB. Also as you didn't mention it, I'll take it you didn't do FF. Although you advised having an ecollar on the dog, being as it's trained in conjunction with FF, I'll assume your dog has not actually been collar conditioned.

Again, your dog's problem is OB based and goes back to deficient steadiness training at the beginning. Without FF/CC, all you can do is revist and re-train steadiness as I & others have described. Even so, when (not if) your dog breaks or refuses a retrieve, you will have no tool to correct him. The ecollar does no good in this instance unless your dog has been FF'ed in conjuntion with it.

Your statement about not taking the hunt away from him tells me you aren't looking at this as a trainer or truly from a training standpoint. You want a different behavior from your dog, but are hoping he will simply decide to do it because you want it.

Dogs don't think, learn, or react like humans, and it's a mistake to project your outlook onto him. They are our hunting partners but not equal partners. Dogs, particularly males, need an Alpha leader, and if you won't establish the role, he'll simply take it himself. You are seeing this in action.

You can take the time to fix this, or you can continue to hunt him and put up with it for the rest of his hunting life. Mark my words, you cannot fix this in the field hunting.

Bear in mind EVERY TIME he breaks in the field, it reinforces he's in command of himself, not you. Unless you train him, hold him to a level of performance, and enforce it, he won't suddenly change his mind to please you...

Good luck and good hunting...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I Appreciate the advice ND. We will be working on the problem. I respect advice that is coming from a voice of experience, we have had to work out other kinks along the way as far as training and I am sure I can fix this one too. Thank you kindly eh.

:bowdown: :)
 
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