Encouraging a young dog to use her nose?

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

  1. Larsen's Labs

    Larsen's Labs Elite Refuge Member

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    As far as the retrieving doves in hot weather, the biggest problem may be a sticky mouth and the loose feathers on a dove!! I have had more than one dog display its displeasure at a mouth full of loose dove feathers! My best solution to that was hunt around a stock dam (water hole) where I could pick shots and drop the doves into the water. The cooler water (cooler than the air) and the wet feathers helped a lot. Eventually they get the idea that the doves are to be retrieved when they come down no matter where it is! It helps to keep a pail of fresh water by you so the dogs can get a drink and wash some of the feathers out!! LL
     
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  2. KwickLabs

    KwickLabs Elite Refuge Member

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    Well, I tried to recall anything special with my last eight hunting dogs that required special efforts at using their nose.
    It was simply exposure. Not a big deal and made sure to follow the rule of "eyes first........then nose". Therefore,
    retrieving with a chase often "organized" the eyes/nose function.

    This was greatly enhanced by one simple situation many years ago. I used to use a Retrieve-R Trainer. The small,
    hard rubber projectiles could be launched fairly far away with strong loads. One very dry day in August one was
    launched off into some very dry grassy area with hard ground underneath. The wind was slightly away from us.
    Each time it hit the ground it bounced several yards forward at least 5-6 times.

    My dog was released and charge out. She soon hit the scent cone of the first bounce and became more animated at
    each place where the next bounce occurred. It was very clear she was tracking the scent left by a piece of hard rubber.
    Surely the scent of any bird would be greater than that.

    All this means is that if you want your dog to hunt a specific type of bird 1) they need to discover that this is a
    something significant and 2) your input and excitement about their discovery is significant.

    Another completely different view on this is dogs finding deer sheds, any trailing, drugs and bomb searches. One
    AKC test requires asking the dog to retrieve the one object of many with their trainer's scent on it.

    You don't need to wake a dogs nose up.......just show them what you want. ....AFTER they have developed their
    marking skills. Eyes before nose.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  3. Hogleg

    Hogleg Senior Refuge Member

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    We play the "dead bird" game after every session of training. Either a duck, bumper with wings or a plain bumper.

    Throw a fun bumper, hide it while she is retrieving the fun bumper. Head for the cover and give her the "dead bird" command, doesn't take too long and they know it's game on.
     
  4. choc24/7

    choc24/7 Elite Refuge Member

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    grab some wings and hide them and encourage her to use nose. i did this on walks through the woods. dead bird/hunt it up/down bird
     
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  5. Rangerbob

    Rangerbob Senior Refuge Member

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    I started my 1yr male lab on doves this season in a very similar situation as the OP. We started in a freshly tilled field with very little vegetation to make marking easy. He did very well on his marks but you could tell he wasn't trying to use his nose. The times that he needed help I would go to the area the bird fell and call him in and have him hunt 'dead' until he found the bird. Mostly it was by sight but you tell he was starting to pick up the scent. After we got our limit on the way back to the truck I heeled him in and tossed a dove into some knee high thick weeds and sent him. He would go to his mark but he had to use his nose to find the bird. We did this several times with him finding the bird each time. 2nd day was pretty much a repeat of the 1st but you could tell he was starting to use his nose a little more. The 3rd day we moved over to a cut milo field with calf high milo. Even when he marked the fall well he still had to use his nose to find the bird.
    In 3 trips he picked up 50 birds without a single loss. His progress was great and I am excited to get him into the ducks.
    Just a point, we were hunting early mornings while it was still cool and the hunts were only about 1 1/2hrs so he was not overworked. I think one of the most important things was that everytime he was told to hunt 'dead' he was rewarded with a find.
     
  6. WaterFoulHunter

    WaterFoulHunter Refuge Member

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    My YLM, 11, has retrieved well over 250 dove, both marks and blinds. What I've noticed is that he has the most trouble scenting them when it's hot out-like September usually is. He has a triple coat and suffers at anything above 65 degrees; panting, extremely thirsty, noticeably reduced energy, etc...That all leads to panting. I believe that his nose is less effective when he's breathing through is mouth. I've seen him run out to a mark and not smell it from five feet away. he never does that when it's cooler. My .02 worth.
     
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  7. eugene molloy

    eugene molloy Senior Refuge Member

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    Squaller,

    From the replies it seems you've got three possible reasons for the behaviour.

    1 She doesn't recognise doves as something to be retrieved. For this option just do the simple thing; demonstrate that a dove is a desirable object and she'll get lavish praise for bringing it back. Dead birds, wings on dummies, whatever it takes.

    2 She really is relying on her eyes to the exclusion of her nose. The easy option to get a dog to use it's nose is to train the dark, at night. After she's learned what a dove is all about, lob some dead ones into the gloom and send her. You might try laying trails too.

    3 In some conditions doves are hard to find and don't leave much scent. Just do more of it and help her whenever you can, and if it is very hot keep her hydrated; WaterFoulHunter is dead right about that.

    Best of luck,

    Eug
     
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  8. HarryWilliams

    HarryWilliams Elite Refuge Member

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    Take a wing clip pigeon or better a duck, throw it in medium to heavy grass. Then take the dog for a walk by down wind (breezy day best) when the dog indicates scent tell them to hunt, find,fetch what ever terminology you use. Get excited and praise the retrieve. Throw into some other cover and walk the dog away. Turn and send. Throw marks into cover and they will soon learn to use their nose as well as their eyes.
     
  9. Silver Wings

    Silver Wings Elite Refuge Member

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    NAVHDA testing is what came to mind when I saw your post, Marc. The tests don't use a live bird, but a dead bird is dragged to create the scent trail. The start is a few pulled feathers and at the end lays the bird. For the Natural Ability test a straight 50 yard drag is done, for Utility test a longer dog leg shaped drag is done. The drag can be set up harder or easier depending on it's orientation to the wind.
    I would start young dogs with everything in their favor...wind speed, humidity and temperature. Create the drag and then walk the dog on a 6' lead into the scent cone. Since you already know the drag you can essentially guide the dog down it...but you anchor the dog and only move forward as long as the dog is pulling you with it's nose in the scent. If the dog is trying to sight hunt for the dead bird, you stop. Only when dog has a snoot full of bird and is pulling into the cone do you move. Build on this with a longer and longer lead rope. The dog will quarter back and forth, in and out of the scent cone as if on a pendulum. You can use anything to create the drag...dead birds, a possum, their favorite chew toy, it doesn't matter, the point is for them to use their nose. Of course, you can do variations of this drill as well. Plant a bird, live or dead, in the field and then walk the dog in on lead. Play the wind to make it more or less difficult, but when you see the dog wind the bird, again you become the anchor to the pendulum...same as above. Force the dog to use the nose and not the eyes, the more confidence they get with their nose the better they use it. I'm currently dogless but let me know if you want to get together for some training, it's always handy to have a second guy to set up scenarios.
     
  10. Silver Wings

    Silver Wings Elite Refuge Member

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    Probably the single best drill for teaching dogs to work cripples. Shackled ducks and a pond with good cover...tules, tall grass, ect...anything where the dog MUST use the nose in conjunction with the eyes is a great way to move a young dog forward...and NOT while you and your buddies are trying to hunt.
     
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