Training a retriever to retrieve.
Let me start this post off by saying not ALL retrievers are natural retrievers or hunters...I decided to take the two youngsters (Arya and Nova) up to the field and work on a few things with them. My goal was to first, get Nova comfortable enough with with retrieving or even the concept of putting a wing in her mouth. Nova is NOT a natural...at ALL. Arya is. My other goals were to get them used to bringing it back once they had retrieved it, learning not to chew on it (gentle mouth), dropping it at my feet, and the cue words for hunting birds "where's the bird" "hunt em up" "get the bird" etc..(mind you people, I am not a hunter, my husband is so I just use the words I've heard him use).
With goal number one in mind, I started with handing them the wings and letting Nova put it in her mouth and get used to it. It was probably one of the most awkward things I had ever seen. She literally sat there with it in her mouth, while Arya is running around like a kid who just go the toy they had been wanting forever. Since she was sitting so still and perfect, I decided to teach her how to drop. So like anyone would, I put my hand on the wing and said "drop", and she did well, so we moved on.
I took the wings and tossed them so that Arya could retrieve them. I made them sit and stay while I threw them and released them on "go get the bird". Arya took off running and Nova sat there watching. It was actually kind of funny. After a while Nova would run out with her but had little interest in the wing unless it was in Arya's mouth.
As you can see Arya had her head in the game and Nova, well, not so much. Since we got Arya at 9 weeks she had a strong hunt drive. I remember the first time I hid a pheasant wing for her without her seeing and she found it in under a minute. I was amazed! She absolutely loves it. She is just like our Mila. The natural hunting drive just isn't in every dog. Most people think because they are a retriever they will be a natural, but that's not necessarily true. This is why people breed hunting dogs with hunting lines, those dogs are usually naturals. As my husband says "it's in their blood". Different lines bring different traits and characteristics. However, you can ALWAYS train your dog to hunt/retrieve, which is what I am working on with Nova.
I can't help but laugh at this picture. Can you tell who LOVES the pheasant wings?! HA! Arya's got a big smile on her face!
I ended up putting Arya on a leash after a while and tossing the wing for just Nova and letting her retrieve it. It took a LONG time for her to finally run out on her own and get it. I had to walk to the wing with her and she would pick it up and turn away from me. After about 30 minutes of this ( poor Arya was not pleased to be missing out on he fun), she got it herself and brought it back to me.
You can literally see the awkwardness in this picture as she is grabbing the wing. She sat in front of it before she picked it up. Oh my gosh....So delicate and sweet, which is a good thing because I was working on training them not to want to chew on it and be gentle with it. No one wants a hunting dog that gets the bird and takes off with it for a nice snack. HA!
After this I let Arya off the leash and tossed it for both of them to go and retrieve. Their sit and stays were perfect as usual. Arya was the first to get to the wing and bring it back to me the first dozen times, and then something happened....
Nova got it first and brought it back to me! I was so excited and blown away! Atta girl! You could tell she was very pleased with herself as well. I think we have a hunting dog in the making.
I'm really not sure the purpose of this post other than to brag about my dogs! Proud mommy moments=bragging rights!