Newcomer with older dog
I've recently found the forum and have spent the last few days reading through many of the threads - if only I had found this forum 10 years ago! I currently live in Central Florida and primarily hunt on Lake Okeechobee.
I have a 10yr old BLF from Tealbrook Kennels that we purchased primarily for duck hunting (though she hunts dove and snipe when the opportunity arises). I got her when I was only 15. My dad had trained 5 or 6 dogs previously and got me the dog (I suspect) for three reasons: (1) to have a dog to hunt ducks with, (2) to teach me about responsibility, and (3) for the dog and I to train each other. At the time I got the dog, it had been about 15 years since my dad had started training his last dog (25 years ago now); that said, he gave me his copy of Water Dog, which is primarily what I used to train my dog.
Unfortunately, I made my share of training mistakes being, in my opinion, too immature at the time to train a high quality dog. I also believe that I was too hard on the dog which, combined with my losing interest for a few years (between high school sweethearts and Okeechobee being drained and ruining duck hunting for several years), resulted in a dog that really has little interest in training sessions. She loves hunting and, even at 10, still acts like a dog years younger and shivers with excitement as soon as we wake up at 4am and she sees the airboat hooked up and loaded for hunting.
Being realistic, my dog has little training outside of obedience and hunting experience: she will not take a line and will not take hand signals. Additionally, she has not been Force Retrieve trained. For the past few years, I have looked forward to another opportunity to train a dog from scratch, knowing I have the discipline and enthusiasm to do a significantly better job the second time around. However, I also decided I owe it to myself and my current dog to see if I can bring her a little further along in her training.
So far, it has been a challenge because, simply put, she just isn't all that interested in training. She has always been a greedy eater though, so I picked up some training treats and that, combined with lots of praise, has definitely helped her motivation: she went from walking out to grab a bumper to running out and jogging back. Now, I've been slowing working baseball with her to try to train basic hand signals.
All that said, here are my questions:
(1) Am I wasting my time trying to train an older dog that has already been somewhat "ruined?"
(2) If the answer to the above is "no," what training book do you recommend? I understand Water Dog is now considered outdated.
Thanks to all for the anticipated responses and for providing such a great training resource!
It's never a waste of time to train any dog, even a stubborn old cuss set in her ways. When I first found out about trained dogs and what they could do, I had a 9 yr. old meat dawg that would go get the birds out hunting (mine or anyone else's), but in training she would only bring dummies back to the person who threw them for her. If I hand threw her marks, she'd bring them to me but if I used a bird boy, she'd bring the bumper back to him. We spent hours with her and a rope and never really did break her of that habit but, I finally figured out that if I shot poppers from the line at the marks, she'd bring them back to me. She did learn some other stuff and I learned a lot. The 10-Minute Retriever by John & Amy Dahl was the first book I got about training. So, in answer to your question, whatever she learns is a bonus for both of you and will help you when you get your next pup.
Thanks, Julie! I will look into The 10-Minute Retriever. After two weeks, Remi is picking up on the hand signals. She's slow to start the sessions, but once she remembers the treats involved, she finds a little enthusiasm.