I have a 9-month old female yellow lab named Misty. She seems to be a confident, energetic pup, with perhaps an average retrieve drive (though I don't have much to compare to).
We have worked (and continue to work) on basic commands; sit, down, sit-stay, down-stay, recall with a whistle. She will chase a canvas dummy, but does not like to return it to hand (usually will plop down a few feet from me and chew on it, or else try to initiate a game of chase). With balls, she will fetch and return it to me, but again getting her to drop the ball is a struggle -- I reach out my hand, palm up, and she lays her chin in my hand and chews the ball. Anyway, that's where we are as far as training. She seems to be a pretty smart dog, and catches on quickly to most things.
Anyway, enough background. I would like to begin training her to be a hunting dog -- primarily for upland birds (quail, and perhaps some dove and pheasant hunting). I have read a couple of books in the past, and several of articles, but I would really like to find a good, easy-to-use and understand, step-by-step resource for training a hunting dog for upland bird hunting -- starting from scratch with the basics, and progressing all the way to a completed hunting companion.
I would like some folks input as to what you feel are the best resources, whether book, or DVD, or whatever. I have had very little luck in locating any local folks who train retrievers for upland hunting (clubs or whatever), so it looks like I'll be on my own -- with whatever resource or resources might come highly recommended.
evan graham's smartwork series.
not to start a debate, but i was turned off when reading some of the older materials (ahem, wolters) that advocated thrashing a dog or excessively severe corrections. I'm big into fair programs and fair corrections and I think evan graham accomplished that.
I thought Mike Gould's The Labrador Shooting Dog was interesting, as well.
Here's a whole page of them:
Smartworks and Julie Knutsons "Training the Pointing Labrador"
HRCH Ellie Mae MH CGC
Justlabradors.com -- the best site for your Labrador needs.
Does smartworks do anything on upland hunting?
No, Smartworks does not cover any upland hunting, but would still be very useful for cleaning up any retrieving problems Steve is having with Misty. The only book I have ever read on upland hunting with a lab is The Labrador Shooting Dog. I thought it was a good read and made plenty of sense, but have not done much in the way of upland training with my lab, so can't say much on it's effectiveness.
gabbys mom --
I read a couple of those older books -- Wolters, etc. Though I think his use of the word "thrash" was a bit excessive, overall his tone and his recommendations for correction didn't seem near as harsh to me as that single word would imply. I took some exception to his use of that word, also. But, the rest of the book didn't seem "cruel" to me.
However, having said that, I have heard many times from folks here that there is much better, more recent stuff out there. I keep hearing about Evan Graham's stuff, though as gundogpa mentioned (and as he and I have discussed before), this is more geared to waterfowl retrieving. I would assume that the basics of retrieving are similar in any case; I could also see how when, say, dove hunting, you might want your dog sitting at heel until released, to retrieve the birds. This would seem similar to a duck hunting-type situation, but obviously without the water retrieves. So maybe I'll check the Smartworks stuff out for the some retrieving help specifically (as Tagen has said), but then I'll still need to teach her how to work cover/flush, staying in gun range, etc., like when pheasant hunting.
GulfCoast, you mentioned "Training the Pointing Labrador." This sounds interesting -- from the perspective that I have noticed Misty, at times, catching a certain scent on the ground and, while smelling it, lifting her front leg with her tail up -- somewhat akin to a pointer! I have heard that some Labs have been taught to "point;" maybe this is one to check out.
Gundogpa -- you and I chatted several months ago (I am still finishing that stack of articles), and I remember you saying that there's not a whole lot out there for upland training specifically -- you favored Labrador Shooting Dog, which I haven't gotten yet (on my list). Based on your advice, (I think it was from you anyway), I have gotten Misty out into the fields, and am trying to, in a non-intensive way, get her used to staying within a closer range of me, coming back into "range" at my signal -- either verbal or otherwise -- when she gets runs too far ahead, and a bit of zig-zagging, etc. I'm trying to get her used to taking her cues from me as to which way to go, as we discussed back then. Nothing formal, just general stuff while we are walking so she maybe starts to get the idea. However, I have yet to come up with a plan to utilize your other piece of advice -- "get her on birds!" Bottom line, though, is that I laid off the retrieve training for awhile, as I finally decided that her obsession with chewing was simply a road block, as far as retrieve training. She simply wants to chew the object she retrieves. Now that this obsession is easing just a bit, and her maturity, it seems, is allowing her to be more focused, I decided that it might be time to try getting back into that part of it.
Thanks everyone who has posted thus far. I had a list going from a few months back, some of those on my list have been reinforced in this thread; might add a couple more -- anyone else familiar with the "pointing Labrador" book mentioned? Also, I see one on the gundogsupply website (thanks for that link gabbys mom) called "Hunt 'Em Up!" by Joe Arnette and George Hickox. It sounded somewhat interesting. Anyone familiar with it?
This is the link for Julie Knutson's book. It is about 75% retriever training, and 25% specialized upland training. It is probably the best "book" that I have found yet, not to be confused with a flow chart based "program." It is worth a look. http://gunclub-labs.com/training_the..._labrador.html
HRCH Ellie Mae MH CGC
Justlabradors.com -- the best site for your Labrador needs.
Really if your dog doesn't retrieve at all does it matter? The best bird dogs in the world don't always retrieve. (English Pointers)
Sure retrieving to hand, nice mouth skills and some minimal handling is nice......but really, upland hunting is not retrieving. If you spend time running double's and blinds instead of working on the dogs bird craft, you'll never have the best bird finder. Work on all the retriever stuff in the winter when there's nothing else to do......as a secondary skill set. If your dog has a natural retrieve, it should be easy to polish that up.
I think there may be some confusion by what different people mean by upland hunting as well.
People I was talking to this morning use their Lab for upland hunting exclusively - but his job is to flush the bird, and then retrieve once shot. His retrieving ability is the reason they didn't go with a setter or pointer.
Others may mean "finder and flusher" only - much in the terms of a setter/pointer.
Most people in my area dual purpose their hunting dogs. Their dog can go on dove hunts, duck hunts, etc. They don't just want a dog that can sit in a blind all day nor do they want a dog that will just flush things.
In order to select a program, I think you need to have a clear idea of what type of job in the field Misty will have. Is she going to be a flusher only? Is she going to flush/find and then retrieve?
Originally Posted by gabbys mom
My point is if you train for retrieving for an upland dog the same way you train a dog that is a retriever only you can run into problems on the upland side. A dog that is an upland dog has to work without direction a lot more, the training is a lot different, the dog must have the rope to learn his birdcraft. If he is always looking to his handler for direction, he will never gain the experience he needs.
Retrieving is the least important component of upland hunting, lucky for us retriever guys, most of our dogs come with it mostly built in and we can polish it up with little effort. Spending more of your time working on retrieving will cost you birds.
Sure you can take a trained retriever and have him run around in front of you scaring up some birds.......but he'll never be a bonafide birdfinder like a dog who has been brought along like a bird dog. He won't know how to hunt objectives, he won't know how to be innovative when we're having a hard time to find birds and he'll lack the confidence and experience to dig out those tough birds.
Once again I am not saying you should never work on retrieving, think about the % of time during the hunt you are picking up birds....5%? But you're going to train what.......90% of your time on retrieving......and you know why we do it. It's easier. Grab a couple bumpers and off we go, we feel like we are doing something. Bumpers don't make bird dogs........you need birds for that.
Have fun out there.