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Thread: Perfect place to ask

  1. #1
    Destinfam5 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultPerfect place to ask

    The "are labs athletic thread" really got me thinking...

    Ivy is always going. She has played fetch since she got comfortable after bringing her home, has ran full speed even hurting herself since about the same time. She has a very strong "prey" drive and isn't afraid of much. She will swim for hours until I put her up so she doesn't fall over and die. She will play fetch full speed at the dog park until her tongue is so long it almost touches the ground. I feel bad that my husband and I don't hunt because I think she would be in heaven!

    What could I do with her? Should I just up the fun stuff and start finding some trails around here, more swimming and more trips to the dog park? I live in a small town and haven't found any fun things for dogs like agility training. I don't mean anything serious, just something fun for her to do that would work her mind and body.

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  3. #2
    kaisdad's Avatar
    kaisdad is offline Senior Member
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    Even if you don't hunt, you could try out field trial training. You could also get into agility training or search and rescue. There are plenty of options for you to be involved with your dog.

  4. #3
    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    agree iwth the above, there are TONS of fun classes and actives you can do with her. Agility, rally-o, hunt training (I took a class and had no intentions of hunting), trei-ball, trick classes, etc.

    You can just randomly train tricks at home, new things each week or month. There are tons of books with tricks - the list of possibilities is endless.

    I know people who did their own "agility" stuff. You can also do agility on walks. Have them go up a big rock, over fallen trees. that kinda of stuff. Weave thru posts or cones.
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

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  6. #4
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Ivy is always going. She has played fetch.... ran full speed even hurting herself since about the same time..... She will swim for hours until I put her up so she doesn't fall over and die. She will play fetch full speed at the dog park until her tongue is so long it almost touches the ground.... What could I do with her? Should I just up the fun stuff and start finding some trails around here, more swimming and more trips to the dog park?
    I think there are 2 inter-related questions or issues here. One is you have a Lab with a very high retrieving drive. The other is how to channel her zest for life and learning.

    My first Lab, Bess, was very much as you describe. Once she learned to retrieve, she wanted to retrieve seemingly for hours -- so much that she could be wobbly on her legs and hardly able to stand and still beg for more. That scared me -- she was NOT reliable about how much exercise was enough; I had to be and to set limits for her.

    In terms of daily exercise, when I got home from work about 6 o'clock (Bess was home all day with a Doggy Door to our fenced backyard) we walked to a nearby pond and I gave her about 40 minutes of swimming retrieves, slinging a retrieving dummy (similar to the "Lucky Dog" 2" x 12" ones sold by the "gundog supply" online store) out for her to retrieve.

    Very quickly, I began teaching her to make right angle turns: one slightly lower pitched whistle meant (made with just my mouth but you could use a boughten one if you can't whistle) for her to turn left, 2 rapid notes higher in pitch meant for her to turn right.

    That was easy to teach. I sent her swimming straight out in the pond and then slung the dummy so it'd land about 10 feet/3 m. to her right or left. Just before it splashed in the water, I gave her the cue for the appropriate side. That got pretty firmly established in a few days.

    After about a week of practice and impressing the signal and desired response, I began giving a command to turn one way (but no dummy slung to retrieve) followed by one more command (with the dummy slung to retrieve). Gradually we built that up to 5 or 6 -- or maybe more -- turns before slinging her dummy to retrieve.

    Then, since the pond we used (about 50 yds/m. wide, maybe 5X longer) permitted this, I trained her to either swim back and return it to me OR to go to the other side and sit until I told her (with arm signals and voice) to either run to her right and go all around the dam and bring back it to me OR to go to her left by a tree, jump in and swim back, etc.

    (And then, later, after MUCH, MUCH training, to respond correctly when I said, "Bess, take a look to your right." (She'd look briefly) "You see that dam down there?" (She looked briefly again.) "Good! When I tell you to, I want you to run all the way around that dam and bring it back to me. You got that? GO!" And similarly to the left, to run to the tree, jump in, swim back and bring it to me.

    The pond was near the children's hospital of The Menninger Foundation and, at that time of day, often some of the children would be walking by the pond with their psychiatric aides. They'd stop and watch -- the children were fascinated with Bess's performance and called her "The Wonder Dog." Bess was usually oblivious to anything other than a chance to retrieve that dummy again.

    I went through this in so much detail to do two things. To demonstrate how you can limit the amount of training time (say 30-50 minutes/day swimming retrieves) but still introduce learning other things with it.

    Oh, another thing with swimming, retrieving Labs -- teach them to shake on command so you can get the water on their coats deposited some distance away from you right after they get out instead of just in front of you right after they give you the training dummy.

    Have fun. You can use Ivy's intense retrieving drive to teach many things. But YOU'RE the master -- you need to set reasonable limits on how much exercise a day is enough just as you should set reasonable limits on how much food to eat each day when your Lab (like Bess) has no internal limits at all.

    HTH

    Last edited by Bob Pr.; 08-04-2013 at 11:00 PM.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  7. #5
    Destinfam5 is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you everyone for the advice and specific things that led me to google. I actually found quite a few things within my area that I am going to give a try.

    Bob- An even bigger thanks to you! I know that took a while to type out but I enjoyed reading every bit of it. She especially loves retrieving in water and I do some times worry that she is too tired to continue and have to stop the "fun". I think more than swimming or fetch alone, the combination is by far her favorite thing to do. She also picks up on commands very easily and I think it would be so fun to teach her how to do tricks in the water while she's playing fetch. I have a bear whistle and I think that will work just fine. She's spoiled and loved beyond words, but I can just tell she'd be happier with a little more out of life.

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Bob- An even bigger thanks to you! .... I enjoyed reading every bit of it.
    You're very welcome -- I enjoyed the memories and am glad it wasn't too long for you.

    I almost added a memory about wanting to add hunting to Bess's repertoire as you mentioned wishing you could do with Ivy --
    but that would've made it too long.

    But I'll add it here, since you're so tolerant plus also -- there's a message in it that might be useful to you with Ivy.

    This was in the '70s, an era when all known Labs were black -- I heard and saw no other colors mentioned. And Labs were
    considered primarily hunting dogs, so I wanted, very, very much, for Bess to be able to fulfill her potential.

    I made friends with a duck hunter who was willing to take Bess and me on a hunt at a reservoir about 35 miles away. He gave
    us some duck wings to practice with weeks before we went and we used those so Bess would have some familiarity with the
    proper scent before our expedition. And I bought and used a practice pistol for her retrieves so she'd be acclimated to the sound
    of gunfire.

    Tom came by to pick up Bess and me about 4:30 on a freezing cold Saturday morning. I brought along bunches of towels to
    dry Bess off after she'd make any swimming retrieves from the blind. I wasn't greatly concerned about the cold because she'd
    plunge in the pond we used daily whenever it wasn't too frozen over with ice -- I'd dry her off as soon as she came back on
    shore.

    We got to Lake Perry and the blind by probably 5:30 and huddled there, cramped, dry but shivering, for several hours. We saw
    numerous ducks at a distance or flying by, but none were within range to shoot.

    We finally packed up and got breakfast and warm again by maybe 10:30.

    That was our first and last attempt at fulfilling Bess's native Labrador Retriever heritage as a waterfowl retriever.

    After that, we invented other fun games involving swimming retrieves both at "our pond" and at many other lakes during more
    reasonable hours and temperatures. (But we did continue to use those duck wings to play hide and seek games for many years.)

    Last edited by Bob Pr.; 08-05-2013 at 01:50 PM.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  9. #7
    Destinfam5 is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you for sharing another memory. I actually enjoy reading things things like this! And it made me realize hunting is probably not for me. I have an extremely short attention span. My husband always says "did you just get squirreled"? I can barely sit still through a movie, I doubt I could do it for 5 hours. Actually, it makes me feel a little sick just thinking about it.

    From the dates in your signature it seems like Bess had as long as a life as my old girl had. We got her as an 8 wk old pup and had to put her down in February right before her 14th birthday. There's something very special about that first companion and the memories stay vivid, hopefully forever. I still remember first laying eyes on her, picking her up and holding her in the car all the way home. I miss her more than words can describe.

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