I'm training my 3rd dog, a 14 month old male with field trials in mind. His land marking skills seem to be above average for his age. Very confident at varying distances, marks falls not gunners, persistent tight hunts, no concerns about running tight past short guns, will chase down a live cripple with enthusiasm, etc.
The problem I'm having is on water. He marks well and will swim to the area of the fall, but on roughly 2 out of every 10 retrieves, he'll spook when he get's within 5 yards of the bumper, Dokken or duck. Once he finally decides to bail, I can usually handle him back to it and he'll eventually get it (sometimes by circling around behind it), but he is very cautious about the area. I live in Michigan, and have tried to tell him there's no gators here, but he doesn't want to hear it.
This has happened on different ponds in different situations (most marks are within 100 yards). Some in open water, some in moderate shoreline cover, some near a clean shoreline, etc. It seems to happen more often with white bumpers, but not exclusively and also occurs more often when the water is calm and there is more reflection on the water.
I didn;t experience this with the first couple of dogs I trained through the MH/Qual level. Is this just a young dog thing he'll likely grow out of with more experience and exposure? Is there anything I can do to help build that confidence on water?