First dog help.


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By RVAhunter - 7/18/2012 12:09:05 AM
Ive got a two year old yellow lab that is the first dog I have trained.  I had him trained well and he made several great retreives this season but had a hard time sitting still which I was expecting from a dog just over a year old(he just turned 2 so he was much younger during the season).  Everything was pointing towards him turning into a solid duck dog once he settled down.  About 2 weeks ago I took him down to the lake to work on him and on his first retrieve he stepped right on a yellow jackets nest.  I didnt notice the bees until he had gotten back to shore.  He got stung badly in his face, ears, and legs and was in a lot of pain.  I let him relax for about a week and got rid of the nest.  I brought him back down to the lake a week later and he refused to get in the water at our normal training spot (where the nest was).  so i took him to several different spots and he would not get in the water.  I even got in to try to get him to swim with me and he refused.  I took him to other lakes and ponds and he would get in the water but refused to get anywhere near his dummy.  He still gets excited when i pull the dummy out at the house and looks eager to retrieve but as soon as it hits the water he wants no part of it.  Ive tried using every dummy I have dead fowl, canvas, and rubber in orange and white and he wont touch it.  Even on land retrieves he wont go near it.  Do any of yall have advice for a novice dog trainer?  Im tired of doing my dogs job and retrieving the dummy on my own i think my neighbors are laughing at me.
By Pit Boss - 7/18/2012 5:40:06 PM
At two years of age I would recruit a helper. There are many benefits to having a helper throw marks for you and there are many disadvantages to throwing the marks yourself. I would have the dog by my side while a gunner yelled in an excited voice "HEY, HEY, HEY" and then the gunner would shoot a gun multiple times and throw  a hooded live duck. As soon as the bird hit the water I would send him/her. If this did not work I would get my waders on and get in the water with the dog.
Have you thrown marks on land? How does he/she react on land? 
Have you done your basics? Force to the pile? 
If your dog previously had a good water attitude, this should not be a big deal, but every time you get a "no go" you are creating a really bad habit.
 
By RVAhunter - 7/18/2012 7:43:07 PM
He was fine on land and water before the incident.  Ive gotten in the water at my lake before before and tried to call him in but he just whimpers on the bank.  When ive taken him to other lakes he will get in but he is very shy and timid.  I dont want to force him in the water but do you think i should try this just to show him that it is ok?  The big thing is that he seems afraid of his dummy as if he associates the dummy with getting stung by the bees.  Like i said ive tried different dummies on land and water and he wont go near it. 
By Pit Boss - 7/19/2012 5:24:40 PM
RVAhunter (7/18/2012)
He was fine on land and water before the incident.


I posted a reply this morning but to my amazement:laugh: it was not on here so I will try again.

You need to find out how he is now on land before you go to the water. It is easier to work on issues on land before you go to water. 
This is not meant to pick on you so please do not take it that way. Hopefully, someone will learn from your problem. You are a good example of how proper basics can give you the tools to fix a problem quickly. If you had force fetched the dog properly, you should be able to throw a dummy on the ground and command "fetch". If he the refuses, just the act of grabbing the collar and his ear should get him diving for the dummy. If you collar fetched you could command "fetch" nick and repeat the "fetch" command. If you did your force to the pile, you could have commanded "sit" then a nick and heel forward and then he should go. 
I will assume you didn't force fetch your dog. I eschew people who elect not to FF their dog. JK . I had to say that after reading the fricking Milner article in the last DU magazine where he states that he eschews force fetch. If you did not FF your dog, I would do what I mentioned in my previous post. The only difference is that I would have a helper shoot and throw a duck (preferably a live one) on land. I would send the dog as soon as the bird hits the ground. If this goes well, I would switch to a dummy. Then I would go to water and repeat the process with a live duck and finally a dummy.
You mentioned in your first sentence that your dog is not steady. This is not the time to work on this issue.
Hopefully this will make sense to you.
By Mallard Mugger - 7/19/2012 7:24:27 PM
The big thing is that he seems afraid of his dummy as if he associates the dummy with getting stung by the bees.
You've hit the nail on the head with this statement most likely.  He doesn't know any better.  He probably got stund on his way to, picking it up, and on his way back with the dummy.  He is more than likely now associating all dummies with bee stings!  It will be up to you to help him get over this.

PB gave you some great advice with a hooded or shackled live bird.  If you can't get a duck, get a pheasant, chuckar, pigeon, something to give him the thought of more pleasure/excitement than the stings and a live bird will generally do that for you.  Hopefully he isn't associating the whole act of retrieving with the bee stings (thus PB's post about FF).  If that fails, does he have a favorite toy, frisbee, ball, etc that he just can't refuse retrieving, that he begs you to throw for him?  Has that behavior changed?  Start with that.  You may even have to start in the house or garage with it but that is pretty extreme.

Treat the water with ease at first.  Let him reach it from shore and get comfortable with that, then ankles, then knees, etc.. 

I had my 3 yr BLM get stung by stepping on a ground nest while going to the water for a retrieve when he was around 4 months old.  We worked through it.  You can as well but every refusal you get right now cements it that much further into him.
By Honker-Konker - 7/25/2012 12:05:09 AM
I am in no way an expert dog trainer, just training my first lab, so take my suggestion however you want. I'd try going to a 100% new location that he has never retrieved at before and try it there. Sometimes a new location gets a dog excited and puts a little extra drive in them. I took my pup to a new location when his retrieving became stagnant and he failed to progress. Once he was in the new location it was night and day difference in his retrieving and obedience. I now your dog is struggling from fear and mine was probably struggling from boredom but a new location did wonders for my pup.