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Thread: Help - Spooky Water Retrieves

  1. #1
    Senior Member Dan Wegner's Avatar
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    Default Help - Spooky Water Retrieves

    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?
    FCR "Ransom" - Coastalight Toodoggone Much CD MH *** (2012 MN Qualifier and All-Age pointed!)
    FCR "Legend" - Ryvertowns More Than A Memory CD *** (QAA and 2011 FCRSA Field Trial Trophy Winner)
    LAB "Traitor" - All Out Gone to The Dark Side (QAA and Nat'l Derby List)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Aussie's Avatar
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    Interesting problem. I should imagine, for whatever reason, your dog is fearful in water close to retrieving articles. We certainly do not wish to create a habit and further generalise.......so I imagine going back to easy confidence building marks/blinds. Shorter successful retrieves, singles?

    When in new situations is your dog a spooky type?
    Field trial labradors, the wind beneath my wings,

    sometimes poop under my boots.

  3. #3

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    Would you classify you dog as really smart? Or is he a little jumpy at other times and generally kind of squirrely? What type of personality would you say the dog has?

    Is it only bumpers, how about birds, has he been on live birds? Is the dog pretty birdy? Does he seem to have good prey drive? Would he chase a duck in the water or balk at it?

    Just trying to flesh out the problem a bit more.

  4. #4
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    That was a fraction of what I went through with Ginger around the same age. Then closer to two, she went back to normal on water entries, and confidense. Hopefully it is something that your pup will mature out of.
    Terry Britton, P.E.

    Engineers believe that if it isn't broken, it doesn't have enough features yet.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bridget Bodine's Avatar
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    Has he ever gotten hung up in decoys?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dan Wegner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A_Fever View Post
    Would you classify you dog as really smart? Or is he a little jumpy at other times and generally kind of squirrely? What type of personality would you say the dog has?
    As much as I'd love to say he's a genius... I can't. He is, however, a pretty smart dog, but he doesn't always think everything through. He is quite reactive, but not jumpy or unstable. As for personality, he is NOT a wallflower. He is highly energetic, driven and quite focused when it comes to retrieving (or eating).

    Quote Originally Posted by A_Fever View Post
    Is it only bumpers, how about birds, has he been on live birds? Is the dog pretty birdy? Does he seem to have good prey drive? Would he chase a duck in the water or balk at it?
    The issue seems to crop up on water with either bumpers, Dokkens or birds, but only occasionally. He is a nut for live birds. He'll chase down a cripple or launch himself into the air to grab a flushing bird and bring it back alive with no issues. He's chased live ducks on water to the point I began to fear he was too tired to continue (20 plus minutes of swimming) and we had to dispense with the duck to get him to come in.

    The only possible cause I can think of goes back to a water retrieve last summer at about 6 months old. He was making a routine water retrieve about 15 feet from the far shoreline (on a 30 yard mark) when a live duck that had been resting in the shoreline cover (unbeknownst to me), suddenly flushed across the water right over his head. It startled him something awful. He made a beeline for the shore and it took allot of gentle coaxing to get him in the water again. I'm not sure he ever really got over that episode. Maybe he was going through a fear period and it really imprinted in his mind... Do you think it could be residual effects from that episode? I just learned that one of his littermates seems to be having a similar issue... Could it just be a stage they're going through?
    FCR "Ransom" - Coastalight Toodoggone Much CD MH *** (2012 MN Qualifier and All-Age pointed!)
    FCR "Legend" - Ryvertowns More Than A Memory CD *** (QAA and 2011 FCRSA Field Trial Trophy Winner)
    LAB "Traitor" - All Out Gone to The Dark Side (QAA and Nat'l Derby List)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dan Wegner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sighttosea View Post
    Has he ever gotten hung up in decoys?
    He's dragged an occasional decoy to shore with him, but other than an inquisitive glance back, he never seemed too concerned with it. Never been really tangled up or anything. Good thought though.
    FCR "Ransom" - Coastalight Toodoggone Much CD MH *** (2012 MN Qualifier and All-Age pointed!)
    FCR "Legend" - Ryvertowns More Than A Memory CD *** (QAA and 2011 FCRSA Field Trial Trophy Winner)
    LAB "Traitor" - All Out Gone to The Dark Side (QAA and Nat'l Derby List)

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