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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took my 1yr-old BL to a local trainer of good repute to have her force-fetched last month. I waited this long because she was pretty hyper and I thought she do better if she matured a bit. She was there five weeks, I visited a few times and the trainer said things were going reasonably well. At the end of the five weeks, I had a talk with him and he declared that she was about the least trainable dog he'd ever worked with and she completely lacked the desire to retrieve. He said she was force-fetched but didn't like retrieving. He also collar-conditioned her and he said he had seen fe dogs that required as high a level of correction as she did.

The trainer said he would love to take my money but didn't feel right about trying to go forward with my dog. In fact, he didn't even charge me for the fifth week she was there. He suggested that I try and get a started dog several times. I didn't ask him straight out if he was saying this because he thought I screwed this dog up, but I might talk to him again about that. I don't think I did, but Raven has always been kind of lukewarm about fetching and obedience in general, and she gets wound up pretty easy and then she's just plain stupid. He asked me a couple of times early in the month, if I had tried to force-fetch her myself. Which I hadn't, but had made her hold the bumper some when she wanted to refuse to fetch it up. I also took her hunting a few times last fall, and she retrieved a few ducks and refused a couple but I chalked it up to a young dog.

So here I am, with a dog that flunked out of freshman year of college. I am tempted to find a good home for her, in fact I have a couple of offers already. Part of me wants to take her out this fall again and give her one more chance before I wash her out. But this trainer pretty much guaranteed me that she was not going to do any good. In fact, he said she was one of the all-time worst dogs he ever had come through his kennel, and the guy's been in business for quite a few years.

Finally, he said a good started dog was around $2.5K, and a finished dog $4K. I'm toying with the started dog idea, and also with getting another pup and starting from scratch. By the way, this dog of mine wasn't from hunting stock, just purebred lab. So I knew I was taking my chances, and not having had experience with them before I didn't recognize that she wasn't going to pan out early on. She seemed to fetch the bumper well enough, and was birdy as judged by how she toook interest in birds around the yard and ponds.

One good note, my buddy brought his Chessie to the same trainer and she's doing very well, so I will get to hunt with a good dog this fall one way or another.

Advice and/or consolation is welcomed. Or give me an earful if you think I'm to blame.
 

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It happens.

If you agree with the pro and don't think another pro should evaluate then I would say get her into another home. It sounds like you are wanting at least a good hunting dog and there is no need settling. Also you can end up with more dogs than you need pretty quick if you are looking at getting another pup.
This is of course based on the fact that you already stated being open to the idea of getting her into anoter home. If you are really close to her, you could always keep her as a pet but the frustration of a dog that just doesn't enjoy the work isn't usually fair to the owner or the dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have to say that I don't want to agree with this guy, but I see what he's saying. I recognize now that some of the problems I was having with her, were not just me or just her being young. It became especially apparent when my buddy got his pup and she was so much more into going hunting.

My family and I are fairly attached to Raven, although her hyperactivity has made it difficult to be that affectionate with her. She kind of bullies the kids a bit (7 and 9), although they have gotten better at hodling their own with her.

No need to settle, that is exactly what the trainer told me. He also offered to help me evaluate a new dog if I want to go that route.
 

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Re: My Dog Flunked Doggie College

tom sawyer said:
So here I am, with a dog that flunked out of freshman year of college.
Unfortunately it is more like flunking out of elementary school
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ha! I suppose you're right. She knows not to crap on the floor or chew on the furniture (now), so I was trying to give her a little credit. Oh and she eats really well for her age. And she looks darn good sitting in the truck.

There I changed the title to "school".
 

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If you trust this pro (which you obviously do if you sent your dog to him), believe him when he says this dog doesn't have the talent to be what you want. There are far too many nice dogs out there who love the work to be forcing a square peg into a round hole.
I agree that I would either keep the dog as a pet or find her a new home.
The other question is whether to get a pup and start over or get a started dog. The answer to that depends on what you want. If you want a dog that has been collar conditioned, force fetched and has progressed through some level of handling training, you will save money buying a started dog over buying a pup and paying a pro to train it to that level.
$2500 can buy a pretty decent started dog or it can buy a puppy and 2 to 4 months of professional training.
Either way, my only advice is to thoroughly research any pro you choose to send a dog to or any "started" dog you intend to purchase. Professional trainers are much like auto mechanics in that the vast majority are hard-working, talented professionals who put in a lot of long hours to provide quality service. But there are always a few who through ignorance or dishonesty shine a poor light on the others. Do your homework.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I did the math and I can see where it is a wash between buying a pup and paying for training, and buying a started dog. Maybe less washing if you count cleaning up the poop on the kitchen floor.

I had a couple of good recommendations on this trainer from friends. He used to train dogs at a nearby hunting club, and has had his own operation now for several years. I think he knows what he's talking about, from what I can gather. He's more or less local so I can visit and help out and learn. And the $500/month seemed like a reasonable fee, considering what kenneling alone can cost.
 

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The first mistake you made was waiting, training starts when the dog gets home. And CC and FF done right after the adult teeth. Do your homework on the pedigree with either a puppy or started dog. Just because a dog is "started", and started means different things to different people, doesn't mean it is capable of doing more advance work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was throwing bumpers and some birds, working on OB, and collar-conditioned her at the right time. I waited on the FF, partly because I was going to do it myself originally and chickened out, and partly because she was so hyper that I thought she wouldn't learn as fast as if she were a little older and settled down some.

The trainer said that about started dogs, thats why he strongly suggested that I get his help in finding one. I thought that was quite gracious of him.
 

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I guess it depends on how high you set the bar or what you are willing to settle for. I've started 10 pups in the last four years and only have four dogs in the back yard to show for it. Just like people, some are born to greatness and some are just incompetent.
 

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Your trainer may be right. He also could be wrong. If you and your family really like your dog, I would have it evaluated by another good trainer.

Many "washouts" have gone on to becime great dogs with different owners or trainers. Some trainers just don't "click" with certain dogs, or, are not able to adapt. I'm not saying your trainer wasn't good enough, just that I'd try to make sure first.

Many young dogs about this age can still be less than "polished" inside.

It sounds like your dog doesn't have the drive to be a great hunter, but some dogs mature a little later. Try making the retrieves as fun as possible and limit the dogs running time to when you are trying to entice the dog to retrieve for awhile.


John
 

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tom sawyer said:
My family and I are fairly attached to Raven, although her hyperactivity has made it difficult to be that affectionate with her. She kind of bullies the kids a bit (7 and 9), although they have gotten better at hodling their own with her.
Perhaps you are just exaggerating or making light of a tough situation so don't get riled now but ... man that seems like one scary scene you typed there! Forget about holding their own, your kids have to come first! A dog that bullies children of young age is not safe. Before you blame the dog or the breeder and certainly before you get another dog, get an animal behaviorist or a very good trainer to come and evaluate the dog and the rest of the family dynamic. If I'm reading you correctly, something just isn't right here.
 

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Get a second opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the advice. I'm still throwing bumpers for her (with a goose wing attached) and I can tell she's doing better after the force-fetch training. And her obediance is better too. I'm torn between continuing to invest more time and effort in her, and punting and starting over.

The family dynamic isn't that bad, but the kids (especially the boy) is definitely a little leery of the dog. It is from her jumping up on them when they pass by. They are getting better at giving her commands and she will comply, but I don't think the dog thinks she's below them in the pack. She weighs as much or more than either kid. Maybe this isn't normal for a pup, it might be as good a reason to go with a different dog as the retrieving issues. I have a couple of potential good homes for her, so its not a matter of taking her to the pound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One other question. Could I have caused my dog to hate to retrieve? I was kind of hard on her sometimes when she would refuse a retrieve. I would scold her and put the bumper in her mouth and make her hold it until I said drop.
 

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tom sawyer said:
One other question. Could I have caused my dog to hate to retrieve? I was kind of hard on her sometimes when she would refuse a retrieve. I would scold her and put the bumper in her mouth and make her hold it until I said drop.
Doesn't sound to me like it was your fault. A good working lab with lots of desire will (fortunatley) be very forgiving of such things. I think your mistake was buying a dog that was not out of working stock and then wanting it to work. You can't make chicken salad from.........( you know the rest).

Good luck and be sure that whatever you decide to do, it is something you will be comfortable with--don't let someone else talk you into something
 

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tom sawyer said:
The family dynamic isn't that bad, but the kids (especially the boy) is definitely a little leery of the dog. It is from her jumping up on them when they pass by. They are getting better at giving her commands and she will comply, but I don't think the dog thinks she's below them in the pack. She weighs as much or more than either kid. Maybe this isn't normal for a pup, it might be as good a reason to go with a different dog as the retrieving issues. I have a couple of potential good homes for her, so its not a matter of taking her to the pound.
You're right, the pack hierarchy is out of whack. The dog needs some OB and corrections. Nobody should be afraid of the dog, and if it's jumping on the kids, it's asserting its dominance. Unless you do something (train it or get rid of it), odds are, something is going to happen. Don't get mad, but this falls at your feet. The dog is following its natural course and is finding its place in the pack. The fact that it's been allowed to assume a place above the kids isn't its fault.

It kind of sounds like you've made up your mind really. You just need someone to tell you it's okay. The dog doesn't fit your needs in the blind, nor in the home. If you kept it around, you'd still need to work on its OB and pack placement, so just keeping it as a pet doesn't equal no training, feeding, cleaning up, vet bills, etc.

Another lesson learned: if you do get another dog, get one from hunting lines!

Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Its not that I need someone to tell me its OK, I just need to talk about this with experienced people, and try and make the right decision. I've got quite a bit of time invested in this pup and I honestly hate like heck to give her away and start over. If I did start over, I'd not want to make the same mistakes twice. And the $2-3K investment in a started dog is an alternative that is reasonable, but still a big cash outlay for my own economic circumstances.

Appreciate all the input. You people are a great resource and I honestly admire that you have such patience with novices like myself. But I guess patience is a trait that trainers have in abundance.
 

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tom sawyer said:
One other question. Could I have caused my dog to hate to retrieve? I was kind of hard on her sometimes when she would refuse a retrieve. I would scold her and put the bumper in her mouth and make her hold it until I said drop.
Any negative infulence can affect a pup. At a young age they "take this to heart" in a big way. One event can color everything that comes after. They seem to take in the negative more readily, a fright or confusing correction.

Correcting (scolding) when it comes to a UNKNOWN command or behavior causes confusion and even fear of repeating that behavior ie fetching.

Put away correction, use attrition and reward what you want, with a puppy/youngster that has not compelted FF dropping a bumper is to be expected.
 

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Tom,

I am not the one to give advice but I can elaborate on my experiences that seem similar to yours. I have a YLF that is 9 months old and had a huge lack of drive when she was younger in part because of me. I think I reacted as you did and she sensed too much pressure from me to perform. She would go crazy over a live quail or dove but would just out right ignore a bumper. At about 3 1/2 months old I had washed her out but was to attached to let her go even when the breeder agreed to give me a full refund. We continued OB training because she is a house pet but from the age of 4 months to almost 7 months she didn't see one bumper or bird, after she finished teething I decided to give it one last shot with a bumper but this time she didn't feel any pressure and I tried my best to make it fun. Well after about a month of that she was more eager to retrieve than she ever was. Just this passed Sunday we were at a friends place working on some easy water marks and she wasn't even touching the first 10 feet of water from the bank because she was blasting off so hard. I was blessed that we were able to correct MY mistake, this may not be your case but if you leave correction at the way side for the time being and make it a fun game you may just see a different dog arise in front of you.


Just my 2cents, Kevin
 
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