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    1. #1
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      Labradorks's Avatar
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      Trying a new trainer this weekend!

      I've been taking Linus to field work lessons since late in the hopes of getting his WC at some point. Not sure if we'd go any further than that. Time will tell. I've also been taking him because he loves it and while it's still training, it's the fun kind. It has awakened a drive in him that makes it easier to get him excited about obedience work. Win/win!

      However, the trainer I've been using is old-school and now that we're getting past some of the really early work, I'm getting pressured to put a forced fetch on him and use an e-collar. Both of which I don't want to do or feel is required. Since we've gone to 100% fun, positive training with my new obedience trainer this summer, I have had more success with him than ever and he is working harder and happier. For example, he now loves his dumbbell and is closer to the hold using fun games than he was with other methods which actually made him dislike the dumbbell. He no longer lags in the heel and is happy, expressive, and exuberant in all exercises.

      In field work we've been having issues with the recall. Which is odd because generally his recall is great. He visits the "gunnars", runs around, pees on stuff, then may or may not bring the bumper back. My field trainer said it was lack of confidence so put an e-collar on him. My obedience trainer said it was lack of confidence, and that the field trainer was asking me to do more than he was ready to do, so do shorter retrieves, make it fun, keep him interested in me, and use a long-line. Work up to the distance and the distractions and help him understand exactly what's expected so that he will succeed. It may take longer than an e-collar, but who cares.

      My trainer introduced me to this guy and I finally got to talk to him last night. He has trained all dogs without forced anything and without e-collars, including my trainer's dog. He said that he has used an e-collar on the odd dog here and there, but he only uses them if he feels it is absolutely necessary. He does not use bumpers. We will use ducks and pigeons. That in itself is exciting because I know Linus is going to pee himself with excitement! He makes training fun and exciting for the dogs. Our evaluation is on Sunday and I'm pretty excited!

      Also, I told him that my dog is not a small or thin field Lab and unless he was seriously concerned about the welfare of my dog, to NOT tell me he is fat!

    2. #2
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      Sounds like a great trainer. Learning should be work but also tons of fun. Anxious to hear how it works out.

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    4. #3
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      I'm curious why you are using a field trainer for a working certificate test. It seems to me a waste of money unless you're going to work toward a Senior Hunter or Master Hunter title. A WC is merely a test of a dog's natural abilities to retrieve, they can't be gunshy, show aggression, they don't have to be steady, they don't have to deliver to hand, no handling is allowed, and it's one retrieve at 50 yards, and two back to back single retrieves in water. All birds are dead.

      You'd be far better off joining a local labrador retriever club and joining them on their group training days.

      From the LRC pamphlet on the test:
      1. The WC is A TEST OF NATURAL RETRIEVING INSTINCT. It is not a marking test. It is not to indicate the extent of training the dog has received.
      2. Tests are generally run on pheasant and ducks but pigeons and ducks are acceptable. AKC recommendations and local rules on the use of live birds should be followed. One bird may be a shot flyer if safe and feasible.
      3. In the land test, the bird should fall in light cover.
      4. Water tests should be set up to show courage to re-enter the water. Angled entries, excessive distances in the water, and “lines” set far back from the water are to be discouraged.
      5. The dog need not be steady; the collar may be held until the dog is sent to retrieve. Line manners are not to be judged. Handling is not permitted.
      6. Although delivery to hand is not required, the word “retrieve” in the performance criteria means that the birds should be returned to the handler. Accordingly,it is suggested that an area of delivery within easy reach of the handler be established by the judges before the test.
      7. There is no dress code; white for gunners and handlers is traditional. Verbal calls and/or shot(s) may be used to get the dog’s attention, shot timing to be at the judge(s) discretion. Duck calls & decoys are not to be used. Wingers are at the club’s discretion. Gunners are to remain visible.
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      “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”

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    5. #4
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sue View Post
      I'm curious why you are using a field trainer for a working certificate test. It seems to me a waste of money unless you're going to work toward a Senior Hunter or Master Hunter title. A WC is merely a test of a dog's natural abilities to retrieve, they can't be gunshy, show aggression, they don't have to be steady, they don't have to deliver to hand, no handling is allowed, and it's one retrieve at 50 yards, and two back to back single retrieves in water. All birds are dead.

      You'd be far better off joining a local labrador retriever club and joining them on their group training days.

      From the LRC pamphlet on the test:
      1. The WC is A TEST OF NATURAL RETRIEVING INSTINCT. It is not a marking test. It is not to indicate the extent of training the dog has received.
      2. Tests are generally run on pheasant and ducks but pigeons and ducks are acceptable. AKC recommendations and local rules on the use of live birds should be followed. One bird may be a shot flyer if safe and feasible.
      3. In the land test, the bird should fall in light cover.
      4. Water tests should be set up to show courage to re-enter the water. Angled entries, excessive distances in the water, and “lines” set far back from the water are to be discouraged.
      5. The dog need not be steady; the collar may be held until the dog is sent to retrieve. Line manners are not to be judged. Handling is not permitted.
      6. Although delivery to hand is not required, the word “retrieve” in the performance criteria means that the birds should be returned to the handler. Accordingly,it is suggested that an area of delivery within easy reach of the handler be established by the judges before the test.
      7. There is no dress code; white for gunners and handlers is traditional. Verbal calls and/or shot(s) may be used to get the dog’s attention, shot timing to be at the judge(s) discretion. Duck calls & decoys are not to be used. Wingers are at the club’s discretion. Gunners are to remain visible.
      I understand your question and I am aware of what the test is about. I have to say though, while the ducks are supposed to be dead, they are often newly dead or only half dead. At the last WC I attended, one duck got up, went after the dog, then ran off. There were a few others that were not completely dead when retrieved. I would not be able to replicate a fresh kill or a semi-dead bird myself.

      I use a trainer for several reasons:
      - I've never been involved in this type of training before, and I want to learn and do it right and set my dog up for success
      - I also want to do it right in the event that I decide to do more with him, or perhaps with a future dog. I don't want to have to undo anything I've done or unlearn anything myself.
      - I don't have access to birds myself nor do I always have a thrower available, and definitely no launchers
      - Our local Lab club has one group training day per year. There are group trainings among the retriever/hunting clubs but those people are hard-core (compared to me) and I'm not ready for that yet.

      Besides the list above, I thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoy learning from people who know what they are doing and working with other like-minded individuals and watching their dogs grow, as well as seeing any issues they have come across be resolved. I don't think it's a waste of money at all for the experience, fun, laughter for me, and the joy my dog gets from it, as well as the learning experience. In fact, I love taking classes, going to matches, and doing things that cost money that aren't necessary, but certainly are good for us both.

      Hopefully that answers your question!

    6. #5
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      What are your eventual goals and aspirations for the dog with regard to field training? Also, why are you opposed to the use of force fetch and collar conditioning?

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    7. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by IRISHWISTLER View Post
      What are your eventual goals and aspirations for the dog with regard to field training? Also, why are you opposed to the use of force fetch and collar conditioning?

      Irishwhistler
      I'm not sure exactly what my goals are yet, as we are just learning. There are several people in my new obedience class who are serious about obedience, but also do things like field work and herding with their dogs, but don't compete in those events. It's still training but fun and stress relief for the dogs. So, that's part of it. I may get his WC and WCX at some point, we'll see...

      As far as the forced fetch and collar, I do not believe they are necessary for my dog.

    8. #7
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      Labradorks,
      Please take my following comments / questions as constructive and not as any kind of offense launched at you. Obviously I am not there to evaluate nor observe your dog personally. The behaviors you describe in your post do not indicate "lack of confidence" to me, rather, they appear to be more related to lack of solidified obedience. Obedience is a core component of any training and is foundational to ongoing programs as they go forward.

      In selection of a trainer, you really need to identify what goals and objectives you are seeking to reach with your retriever. I get the sense that you do not have a clear vision of where you want to go. I would highly suggest that you find a retriever club that trains for and hosts AKC or HRC Hunt Tests and attend a few training sessions and or hunt tests, doing so will give you a better perception of what these wonderful dogs are capable of in field sports, and the training methods used to get them to such levels. Keep in mind that training is fun for these dogs, if well bred, they live to work and are highly motivated to do so.

      Ask lots of questions with regard to any "trainer" you are considering prior to making a selection. Again, the initial step to your training plan should be identifying what you want your retriever trained to do. Follow that by allignment with a trainer that has a proven track record of efficiently bringing dogs to that level. Ask lots of questions and do not hesitate to bring a more experienced person with you when interviewing potential trainers you are considering working with.

      Your stance on collar, hold, and force fetch conditioning is positionally clear, but it is unclear relative to your reasoning. Mind you (your dog - your choice), it just comes to mind that many make such choices based on false beliefs and misunderstanding of those processes. Again, solidified and formal obedience should be the foundation of ALL training and there is associated "pressure" with that phase of training. Dogs learn to handle that pressure and will also learn to handle subsequent pressure realized during collar conditioning, and hold / force fetch conditioning when learning via a competent trainer. These tools and associated processes are NOT to be used to abuse a dog during these processes. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of these processes before excluding their application for your dog.

      I question why a trainer would choose to exclusively and initially use birds during training? It is my own preference to instill an early introduction to young pups with a clipped wing pigeon, but only to awaken any latent bird drive. After that, I progressively work with bumpers and training bucks up and through hold and force fetch conditioning which will not take place until after all adult teeth have come into place. It is my opinion that this sequencing is critical in the formation of good carriage of bird habits. Simply put, I don't allow bad mouth habits to start, much easier than correcting them later. Once those good habits have become entrenched, I will then incorporate cold game (frozen or dead birds) into my training while carefully watching for and correcting any signs of poor carry, mouthing, or hard mouth. Next, I will move onto live flyers and by this time I am dealing with a trainee retriever that understands training pressure and both how to handle it and how to turn it off.

      You are obviously connected and committed to your dog. Dig a bit deeper in doing your homework in identifying your goals for the dog, and for the best trainer to get you there, you will be glad you did. JMHO. Good luck.

      Cheers,
      Irishwhistler

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    10. #8
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      Good luck with training and however you want to do it. I am a firm believer that the WC is supposed to be a test of natural ability. Practice is one thing, structured training is another. Maddy required a little force fetching because she had no interest in the duck. Grace didn't get hers until she was 7 because she loves to fart around in the field. Jack got his at 6 because it never clicked that getting the dead nasty bird was actually a FUN thing. Jagger took to the duck the minute he saw it at 3-4 months and passed his WC at 8 months with one formal practice and a lot of fun bumpers. Jed and Grizz are knuckleheads and the light hasn't gone on in their brains yet....

      My opinion, if you are going to be paying someone to train, I would train to the Junior Hunter level and aim for getting THAT title. Then at least you aren't really tossing money away for something you should be able to accomplish with a dead duck and some fun bumpers yourself.
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    11. #9
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      Irishwhistler has made excellent points. I am wondering what you consider to be "old school" methods that your recent trainer is using. The use and development of e-collar training has come miles from their inception. I once asked the trainer I used, who actually worked with Rex Carr, why he didn't write a book because his dog knowledge is vast. His answer was that he was continually evolving and that by the time he finished he would have thought of a much better way of doing things. His wife joked that he would wake in the night with the solution to a problem with a particular dog. I now use his son, as he is in his 80's and supposed to be retired, but every time I visit he is there telling me what my dog has done and what I should be following up on. It's like having two trainers for the price of one.You are having fun with the field training and that is great but you need to look further down the line. This game is addictive and if you want to go beyond a WC, even to the I and X you need to look realistically at what your dog's behavior is right now. You spoke of not wanting to have to unlearn things but you are at that point now. The dog needs to unlearn that he can visit the gunners, stop to pee on stuff (consider this a challenge), drop the bird and not return directly. I may be wrong but moving to strictly using birds may compound all of these problems. I know that I thought I could get away with out a conditioned retrieve with one of my dogs until the day (at a test) she put the bird down and proceeded to breast it. FF was started the next week.I wish you good luck with your dog and that you continue to enjoy the field work and have fun doing it. Ultimately the choices are yours.

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    13. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by IRISHWISTLER View Post
      Labradorks,
      Please take my following comments / questions as constructive and not as any kind of offense launched at you. Obviously I am not there to evaluate nor observe your dog personally. The behaviors you describe in your post do not indicate "lack of confidence" to me, rather, they appear to be more related to lack of solidified obedience. Obedience is a core component of any training and is foundational to ongoing programs as they go forward.

      In selection of a trainer, you really need to identify what goals and objectives you are seeking to reach with your retriever. I get the sense that you do not have a clear vision of where you want to go. I would highly suggest that you find a retriever club that trains for and hosts AKC or HRC Hunt Tests and attend a few training sessions and or hunt tests, doing so will give you a better perception of what these wonderful dogs are capable of in field sports, and the training methods used to get them to such levels. Keep in mind that training is fun for these dogs, if well bred, they live to work and are highly motivated to do so.

      Ask lots of questions with regard to any "trainer" you are considering prior to making a selection. Again, the initial step to your training plan should be identifying what you want your retriever trained to do. Follow that by allignment with a trainer that has a proven track record of efficiently bringing dogs to that level. Ask lots of questions and do not hesitate to bring a more experienced person with you when interviewing potential trainers you are considering working with.

      Your stance on collar, hold, and force fetch conditioning is positionally clear, but it is unclear relative to your reasoning. Mind you (your dog - your choice), it just comes to mind that many make such choices based on false beliefs and misunderstanding of those processes. Again, solidified and formal obedience should be the foundation of ALL training and there is associated "pressure" with that phase of training. Dogs learn to handle that pressure and will also learn to handle subsequent pressure realized during collar conditioning, and hold / force fetch conditioning when learning via a competent trainer. These tools and associated processes are NOT to be used to abuse a dog during these processes. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of these processes before excluding their application for your dog.

      I question why a trainer would choose to exclusively and initially use birds during training? It is my own preference to instill an early introduction to young pups with a clipped wing pigeon, but only to awaken any latent bird drive. After that, I progressively work with bumpers and training bucks up and through hold and force fetch conditioning which will not take place until after all adult teeth have come into place. It is my opinion that this sequencing is critical in the formation of good carriage of bird habits. Simply put, I don't allow bad mouth habits to start, much easier than correcting them later. Once those good habits have become entrenched, I will then incorporate cold game (frozen or dead birds) into my training while carefully watching for and correcting any signs of poor carry, mouthing, or hard mouth. Next, I will move onto live flyers and by this time I am dealing with a trainee retriever that understands training pressure and both how to handle it and how to turn it off.

      You are obviously connected and committed to your dog. Dig a bit deeper in doing your homework in identifying your goals for the dog, and for the best trainer to get you there, you will be glad you did. JMHO. Good luck.

      Cheers,
      Irishwhistler
      Thanks for the thoughtful note.

      My dog's lack of confidence was lack of knowing what to do in that situation. He has a formal recall and it is perfect -- we've been to dozens of matches, over 100 classes, and six trials, not to mention practice. But the formal recall is way different, which honestly, I never really thought about until my obedience trainer and I worked on it yesterday after I talked to her about it, following the field training disaster. So, yes, you're right. It's lack of training in that scenario, with people in the field, etc. Without people, no problem. In a ring or class, no problem. And, I, as well as my former field trainer, should have recognized that the first time he was exposed to gunners versus the launchers. Her solution was not to worry about it because it's normal, and then suddenly she wants to slap an e-collar on him. Looking back, we should have slapped a long-line on him and shortened his retrieves, among a few other things, to teach him the right way to do things.

      As far as goals and objectives are concerned, right now it's just that we do things right. As with obedience or rally, we are training with the assumption that we will move up the levels -- I didn't show in rally novice until my dog was doing well in advanced, for example. And, right now we don't even have a CD, but train up to the Utility level. I do go to events whenever I can. I have stopped going to most events that are not Lab Club because in my limited experience with the serious hunters, for the most part the dogs seem to be working out of fear, not love, and I just can't stomach that. However, I have met a group of like-minded ladies who have their own group of happy hunting dogs, so that should be a good thing for us.

      Regarding the collar and forced fetch, I'm just not going to employ those tactics on my dog unless absolutely necessary. If I teach my dog something (and teach him RIGHT) and he chooses not to do it, then there are consequences. However, I would not use an e-collar on my dog to train him. If I work on my dog's recall, I know without a doubt that he gets it, but decides to blow me off, then perhaps an e-collar is something I need to look into. Same goes for the forced fetch. I have a great relationship and partnership with my dog and he is a pleaser who, when he knows what you want from him, will do it. My trainers are good teachers and believe in setting a dog up for success, make me feel comfortable asking questions, and are not afraid to step back and try something different if what we're doing isn't working. And, honestly, if the dog decides that retrieving birds is, well, for the birds, I may decide to stop before I would put an e-collar on him. Who knows?

      I can't really answer your question about the birds, but whatever he does, seems to be working for him and his dogs. People really love working with him and more importantly, he trains dogs that are happy, not fearful, while also getting results. I can only assume that if a dog were having issues with the birds he might go to bumpers, frozen birds, etc. I am positive he's got alternative training methods for all kinds of problems, so fresh birds may not be in every one of his dogs' training plans. I'm sure your methods work for you, and the methods my trainer employs seems to work well for him, also. He seems to specialize in people who train for obedience as he has an obedience background himself. Anyway, it's just not a one size fits all deal.

      I really like that my obedience trainer and the field trainer work together, as they have similar methods and reasoning. It really helps me with my training and the things I do in obedience will go hand in hand with field, and vice versa. They also respect one another, which is nice. It is awkward to be told how to do one thing by two people and then have to choose sides.

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