Adopting 15 month old lab
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Thread: Adopting 15 month old lab

  1. #1

    Default Adopting 15 month old lab

    I am adopting a 15 month old lab. She is coming from a “trainer” who didn’t train her. Said trainer seems to have had no clue about the nature of a young lab. I’ve met the dog and worked with her and she is eager to please and quick to pick up commands. However, she was not taught even basics like stay and come. I have trained three dogs using Richard Wolter’s books Family Dog and Water Dog. I read the thread about how everyone feels about him. Two of the dogs I trained were labs, one a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. One of my labs was head strong, rebellious and difficult to train. He never quite learned whistle signals and although he had a good hunting instinct, just wouldn’t quite complete tasks to my liking. My other two dogs were easy to train and eager to please and compliant. This new dog, Bree, seems to have that temperament as well. I have no intention of field trialing this new dog and have no idea whether or not she is gun shy. At most, she might pick up some birds or rabbits we shoot. I own ducks, but would rather teach her to herd and protect rather than retrieve them. My question is what are the new training resources everyone was talking about in the Wolters thread? I want her to learn to be a good citizen as a family dog, probably work her as a therapy dog (my Cavalier is a therapy dog) and teach her some hunting/ retrieving skills. Our property is large and I want to be able to use whistle and hand signals from a distance. Thank you in advance for your suggestions. I’m a little nervous about starting with a 15 month old dog.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Don Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Johnstown, OH


    Thanks for rescuing her. For what you want to accomplish, probably Evan Graham's Smart Work series is best. Evan has both books and DVDs available. He's produced the DVDs in such a way that each covers discreet aspects of training. Rick Stawski's Fowl Dogs series is another possibility. Both are available from . Regarding gunshyness - unless she has already been introduced to gunfire the wrong way, she won't be gunshy. Although some may be a little more sensitive to noise than others, there has never been a dog born gunshy. It's totally a man-made problem by doing something stupid like shooting over them when they're eating (the Wolters method, as I recall), taking then to the gun range or other random shooting. Sure, you might get lucky and not create a problem, but none of those methods address the matter from the dog's perspective. Seeing things from the dog's perspective is probably the biggest mistake that people make while training dogs. Try to see things from the dog's point of view, i.e. think like a dog. With gunfire in the training that i do, although dogs hear a "pop" from a 209 primer at a distance (from the wingers) or a gun shot from the bird station when they start doing real retrieves (with ducks), I don't bother breaking them to gunfire until they're totally crazy about retrieving. Then, I start with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with primer loads and start at a distance of about 10 feet away from them, shooting when the bird launches from the winger and is at the top of the arc, watching the dog's reaction (usually none) and then moving closer to the dog with each shot until I'm standing or sitting on a bucket right next to them. As long as I've gotten no reaction, I switch to blank loads in the next session, again first at about 10 feet or so, then progressively closer as long as I get no reaction. If I do get any reaction, I back off for a bit and go back to primer loads for awhile. Normally, it only takes 2 or 3 sessions for them to totally ignore the gun. Good luck.
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  4. #3
    Senior Member drunkenpoacher's Avatar
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    Dec 2016


    Congratulations on your new dog. A lot of great training resources are now available. Look up Bill Hillmann on YouTube, there are quite a few short videos that should be helpful. If you don't have an ecollar I would suggest getting one. It will make life easier for both you and your dog. Hillmann, Lardy and many other training resources will explain how to properly use the ecollar.
    "I'm thankful someone stood up to him, even if it was a woman." Franco 10/18/19

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Northern Michigan


    I also adopted a Lab with no training and also own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They get along great btw. Do yourself a favor and order Hillmann’s DVDs. Start with Training a Retriever Puppy. That adopted dog of mine (see avatar) is now a MH and a Certified Therapy Dog.

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