Encouraging a young dog to use her nose?

Discussion in 'Gun Dog Forum' started by Squaller, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. Squaller

    Squaller Elite Refuge Member

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    I have a young lab, and she does not seem to like to use her nose.

    First day out dove hunting, and she made some wonderful marks, often coming within inches of the bird, and then not finding it. It was obvious she was using her eyes and not her nose...

    In the past, I have used live pigeons in a wet gunnysack to help train dogs... Drag the wet gunnysack with live pigeons over cover, and at the end, place a live clipped-wing pigeon.

    What are some tricks of the trade that you guys do to get a very visually oriented dog to use her nose???
     
  2. Rick Hall

    Rick Hall Elite Refuge Member

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    A lot of very experienced dogs will miss surprisingly close doves, perhaps due to "air washing" of scent during their flights, hot weather and/or lush vegetation's cover scent. Doubt anyone knows with certainty, but it's quite common, and she'll likely be fine without learning to track gunny sacks.
     
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  3. Squaller

    Squaller Elite Refuge Member

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    I realize that dove are tough at best for many, if not most dogs...

    The dog in question was trained professionally, and the trainer even mentioned that she does not like to use her nose... Watching her on bumpers or dead birds, it is obvious she is using her eyes and not her nose....
     
  4. Rick Hall

    Rick Hall Elite Refuge Member

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    If she wasn't using her eyes as her primary marking tool and was inclined toward making sloppy marks and counting on her nose to hunt them up, that would be something I'd want to fix. But as I understand your/her current situation, I'd count my blessings and figure hunting retrieves of stronger scented birds under better scenting conditions will have her using that nose PDQ.

    Others may see it differently...
     
  5. Squaller

    Squaller Elite Refuge Member

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    I appreciate your comments Rick.

    I do not train dogs per say, and every time I get a new dog, it is a bit frustrating... I have been blessed in having some, and hunting over some good dogs.

    And... She is very good at marking. For a dog that has never been actually hunted over, she made some awful nice marks and retrieves on dove with some longer falls in short cover.

    Of course, I also fought with her to lay down, and she wants to break in the worst way... The breaking is corrected with the collar, and me retrieving the bird...

    My initial question was more along the lines, as to if anyone has any little tricks or "games" to help dogs track birds (such as running pheasants or crippled ducks in cover).
     
  6. Rick Hall

    Rick Hall Elite Refuge Member

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    Aside from when my ex- was into AKC style tracking, and we had all of our dogs doing it as a family activity, tracking has come so naturally to my dogs that I've done nothing resembling formal teaching of it.

    Something I've found hasn't come naturally to them is understanding that diving ducks seldom stay put, so I've long made a point of giving my pups plenty of opportunity to learn the birds' evasive ways before the season, by letting them chase clipped, but unshackled ducks in the shallows:
    CIMG0248.jpg

    And help put getting bamboozled behind them:
    CIMG0249.jpg
    CIMG0251.jpg CIMG0253.jpg

    Hopefully, everyone's just out after doves or geese and someone will show up with something more along the lines of what you're looking for.
     
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  7. Red Devil

    Red Devil Senior Refuge Member

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    A number of years back, Wisconsin instituted a dove season. At the time I had a very talented, high drive swampy with an incredible nose. This was a dog with many, many wild bird retrieves. He also was a dog who routinely saw pigeons, both clipped and shot in training. He had had pigeons all his life. So off I go dove hunting in admittedly tall cover. Color me astounded when I knocked down multiple birds over a two week period and my superb marking dog cant come up with a single bird. What the hey!

    I put it down to this "air washed" hookem. Then one day, I knock one down that lands 5' away. I send Whisky.....no way he can miss this one. He pounces at it... puts his nose on it and starts hunting around. I tell him 'fetch' and he looks at me like I have screw loose and keeps hunting. Enough.....grab his ear and direct his attention back to the dove. Repeat the fetch....long story short...never lost another dove over that dog. Once his kid assumed the mantle of retriever in chief, noticed the same thing until I convinced him they were worth retrieving. Again had a very low loss rate. I can tell you doves lay enough scent to allow a dog to track them.

    Suggestion: Try to drop a dove where you can find it. Take pooch to the bird, compel a pick up and reward. Repeat as necessary.

    One other thing to note, it is quite common for young retrievers to use their eyes over their nose early on. Training and experience will teach them how to use their noses in conjunction with their eyes. It is one reason, when I judge, that a dog that executes an intelligent hunt on a mark tells me more about that dog's hunting ability than a dog who pins every mark. Not rating one better than another, just an observation.
     
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  8. Constructeur

    Constructeur Senior Refuge Member

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    For the natural ability NAVHDA test (versatile pointers) the 'tracking' portion of the test is to pull some feathers from a pheasant, place the feathers on the ground, then let the pheasant go on the pile of feathers. After it runs off, you bring the young dog up, show them the pile, and let them track the bird wherever it ran. I don't see why you couldn't do something similar with your dog if you felt so inclined.
     
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  9. CA Birdman

    CA Birdman Elite Refuge Member

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    Mark it has been so hot in the Valley this year, took my two year old lab out yesterday to a pasture setting with grasses and some other less desireable plants about a foot tall and had a good shoot. She had to be within a few inches to smell them she would birdy and lose it in flash and by 8:30 it was already too damn hot, quit at 9:30 and it was 96 degrees but had a water trough she could drink and jump in otherwise likely would . One thing I work on is the hunt dead and then I drag canvas bumper with some scent through light cover on a rope and then work dog to pick up scent to find bumper. approach area from opposite direction of where you walked in and started process so dog does not smell your scent.
     
  10. callinfowl

    callinfowl Kalifornia Forum

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    I know this sounds stupid, but make a game out of using her nose every night in the yard. Hide her food bowl in different rooms for a few days and give her your find it command. Then the next week have the girls go hide a few treats then let the dog go with a "FIND IT" command or "DEAD BIRD" which ever command you choose.
    After a week or two of hiding treats for her, switch to one or two canvas bumpers.
    After she gets the bumpers dailed in attach a drag rope. And drag them from one side of the yard to the other, stop the drag and rub the bumper in one spot then drag to the hiding spot.
    Do this every day for a few weeks and she will be dialed in. :yes
     

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