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Discussion Starter #1
So I made the mistake of getting Vegas squeaky toys as a puppy, and my family would use them to play retrieving outside. Vegas learned if he bites down while retrieving it squeaked.

Problem: real birds DO NOT SQUEAK!

Some of you may know I'm training for game retrieving.

So most of his retrieving work has been with tennis balls for yard work, and I use the orange dummy for field work. I recently bought a duck dummy with duck scent as well.

When he retrieves the tennis balls, it looks like he's either chomping on it, or juggling it around in his mouth, though when he retrieves the duck dummy he doesn't chomp on it and there's no marks on it..

Also, when he retrieves the tennis balls, he'll often drop them then grab them really fast (can't tell if its accidental or not, looks to be.)

My question is.. how can I tell if he has a hard or soft bite?

The two times I've practiced bird retrieving with a REAL bird.. he though it was fun to stop half way and start to tear the bird apart, and run off when I went to correct him. Check cord wasn't working because he wouldn't do it with it on, and he couldn't get really far out. I'm not going to do real birds again until I can get a training e-collar with a remote to correct him from a distance, since even after I got him to return the ripped bird back, he would THEN be chomping on it.

So confused. x_x
 

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I am rather concerned that you see an e-collar as the solution to bird retreving. Everything I have read indicates that they need to be used with considerable care and expertise to achieve results, and are from an instant cure all. Used wrongly you may create much worse problems down the line. Personally, I couldn't justify hurting my dog for anything that was a sport, or done for fun - just possibly as a last resort in a life or death training situation, when I had exhausted all other methods, but not otherwise. I know they are far more widely used in the USA than here in the UK (they are banned altogether in Wales), but have you considered less aversive methods?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am going to work with a professional trainer to use it properly.. I'm not going to use it to torture my dog. I don't even own one right now which is why I'm asking advise.
 

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(Not sure this will help as I've never done retrieve work)

Would teaching him a "hold" help? I'm teaching Lincoln how to "hold" random objects - sticks, toys, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Vegas knows and does hold perfectly. He will retrieve on command, and hold, literally anything I ask (remote, cell phone, water bottle, ect ect..)
 

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E collars have their place. when used properly they are no more agressive then a pinch collar or a training collar etc etc.

can you do hold work on a real bird?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
E collars have their place. when used properly they are no more agressive then a pinch collar or a training collar etc etc.

can you do hold work on a real bird?
Oh yes, he does the hold work next to me and heeling with me with a real bird great. It's just on the retrieve that he decides it's play time. =/
 

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is it just him coming back to you with something that hypes him up, or the getting to run after something you've thrown that does it?

Can you PLACE something, fairly close, and does he do the same thing?
If you TOSS it the same sorta distance (ie, still fairly close), how does he react?
What about if you toss it a bit furthur? Or place it furthur?

Narrow it way down to find out the exact thing that actually triggers him into the difference between (he thinks) a working hold and a play retrieve.

If it's the actual throwing that is triggering it, it would be a different thing to fix than if it's simply the distance away from you that is triggering it, so there's not much point trying to fix without knowing what is causing the problem... JMO anyway, knowing the problem (mouthing) is only one part of fixing it!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Oooh, you make some very good points, FD, I'll have to give some of those a try after he's recovered from his neuter. It would be so much nicer if I could get my boyfriend to help too.. game birds aren't going to come from me for him to retrieve like everything has been!
 

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My Rogue was my bird dog before she went into the ring. Start her on dead birds. Then go to live, tape one wing and one leg up so they can not fly to far. Your dog will learn how to bring up a live bird and you will know if your dog is biting to hard. Use the e-collar. No worries, you want to be able to control your dog no matter what. Snakes are a huge issue, I would rather shock my dog to stop them from a snake strike than loose my dog to a snake strike.

Give the same command each time to get the bird. You will have a great time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks tons, Mj :) we live in northern utah, and during the dove season we're hunting in the desert in sept before its' too cold and there's rattle snakes there.. I had thought about the risks before, but referring to the e-collar to use it against the snakes is a really great point I hadn't thought about.

It's also 2 hours away from any animal emergency.

Our command to get the bird is 'Find,' I also use this when I'm practicing with dummies, the fake ducks with the plastic floppy heads, and tennis balls. Should I be using the same command like this for all my retrieves?
 

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Hey no worries..do talk with your vet about the rattle snake vaccine..it wont stop you from having to go to the doc right away but it will give you some time. I have seen it work wonders and save dogs lives...also beware of doves. If it the first bird he gets he may get a mouth full of feathers and not want to pick up birds again. make sure it is a clean kill and you shouldnt get a mouth full of feathers.

I took Rogue on a dove hunt and she did great. Also when drying your dog after a bath use cowboy magic, you can find it at the feed store. It helps out a great deal keeping the burs out the poodle coat. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oooh, I've never heard of a rattlesnake vaccine.. I'll definitely ask about it.

I've got frozen dead pidgeons to work with, but their feathers dont fall out nearly as easily as doves and he's been good with them (minus the play part and wanting to rip the feathers out..) I'll take a note on the cowboy magic as well! I don't want to shave him, but I dont want to bring the desert home with me either lol.

OH! I have a question for you! I'm not sure how cold it gets in your part of cali, but it gets very cold and snowy here around the duck hunt. How cold should I expect him to tolerate? I don't want him to freeze.. are there heating vests for sale somewhere? :x
 

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Be mindful of the cold. I would give him more coat on his pack and less on his rear. Much like the show coat for UKC. You will of course keep his head short but his chest back to the last rib his coat can be heavy. I would keep his back end about 1 inch or so long. Our nights get cold in the highlands but hot during the day so we have to watch the heavy coats.
 
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