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.