water concerns?

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water concerns?

Postby EED » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:45 am

All, I am a newbie trainer and this is my first post. I apologize for the length.

I have two GWP pups that are not quite 10 months old. We have been slowly working toward the NA test in late August. They are progressing well. Up until last night, I had no concern about the swimming portion. However, last night both pups decided that they did not want to enter the water. I am fairly certain they are not afraid of the water as both will enter the water multiple times as we are out on runs (ie creeks and farm ponds). They swim fine. Last night we were at a new larger pond and they wanted nothing to do with the water. This has given me apprehension about the water portion of the NA test, which will be in a different state. I have no doubt that the lake used for the test will look different that what I have to train on.

My question is how concerned should I be about this? And, if so how to best proceed. I would like to feel very confident that they will enter the water at the test.

I have reviewed other posts on the topic of water intro. Should I expose them to as many bodies of water as possible? How do I best get them in the water if they hesitate? I have not used treats or birds in the water up to this point. It seems unusual to me, but they have very limited interest in bumpers (on land or in the water). They will usually swim out to retrieve a bumper if I bring both pups out at the same time. They have retrieved most birds that i have either shot for them or used for tracking. Their lack of interest in bumpers somewhat concerns me as that is what will be used for the NA test.

Thank you for any advice.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:54 am

Lots of possible variables. If the dogs are accustomed to just one pond, get them to as many different ponds as possible before the test. Make sure there is variability in the ponds you use...firmness of the bottom, grade of the entry, vegetation, distractions, distance to the other bank, etc.

Get in with them is the best suggestion at this time. You can try using treats or birds, but you run the risk of developing a new dependency on these aids. If the dog won't swim at the NA test using bumpers, a bird will be used as a last resort. Also keep in mind, the dog doesn't need to retrieve the bumper, but needs to readily swim twice.

If you're able to get to the test site the day before you run and get the dogs in the water then, you'll probably have less trouble come test day.

Also keep in mind, there will be a lot of other dogs and people at the test. Make sure your dogs are prepared for this environment. If you haven't had multiple people walking the field with you during training, you many want to start this as well. During your dogs' runs, there will be at least three judges walking the field with you.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby JTracyII » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:03 pm

First of all, how much time do you have before your test? Secondly, as Jay pointed out, It is important to get your dogs comfortable in about 5 ponds or locations on any tasks they do for you in a single familiar environment. Dogs will usually do anywhere what you have worked with them to do in about 4-5 locations. They are place oriented. They have to learn what is required is required all of the time and in all places.

The new pond may have a steeper entry or a different type of bottom (more or less firm), which can make dogs balk.Not sure what you have already tried, but I would throw the bumpers only a couple of feet out from shore and work out from there until they are comfortable. If you have already done this I would get into each new pond with them to encourage swimming. Take one at a time when you do this so they don't feel comfortable to stay with their doggy partner on shore as they watch you take a swim. If it is just you and one dog they may feel compelled to follow you if they think you may be leaving them. After they will get in multiple times then go to shore and throw a bumper out for a retrieve. Always be animated and excited putting the bumper in the dogs face and moving it around before tossing the bumper in. Get the dog excited.

I also agree with Jay that the following method is last resort only and I have never tried it, but I'm sure it would work: Get some cheetos and a few bumpers. Give your dog a cheeto to start. Then throw a bumper on the water and after it splashes throw the cheeto out on the water near the bumper. Hopefully he goes in to swim and eats the cheeto. Throw the cheeto within a second after the bumper splashes. Your dog will hopefully go in to get the cheeto. Don't worry about a retrieve at this point. Do this over and over until your dog anticipates a cheeto being thrown once the bumper splashes. The idea is to get your dog to anticipate it coming and go into the water upon the splash of the bumper. Remember, your dog does not have to retrieve the bumper to get a good score in NA. You will need to move from continuous reinforcement (throwing the cheeto "every time") to variable reinforcement (only throwing the cheeto after the bumper is thrown randomly) over a period of time for it to be effective long term.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby JONOV » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:37 pm

I would walk out into the water. They will probably follow. Alternatively, paddle out in a canoe/boat.

When I tested I was told that they usually did water last. This allowed the dogs to get good and hot so a nice swim to investigate that thing you threw sounds like a capital idea.

Hopefully, after a full august day outside chasing birds, the dogs are thrilled with the idea of a swim.

I got marked down because my dog (uncharacteristically but it doesn't matter) dawdled before he swam. It took some coaxing and many bumpers. Don't know why, I had him jumping with no hesitation the week before the test in the same pond. Maybe he was cold, as the weather changed? Maybe he was shy of the crowd? I dunno. He did end up swimming three times, without using a dead bird.

The start of the day, a dog that actually competed in dockdiving and normally hit the water with gusto, and his handler, experienced the same thing. Her dog took a wee bit more coaxing than he normally does to swim.

The other thing is that, at least the only time I've run an NA test, I was constantly being fed bumpers by the judges and told "throw another." I think I could have accomplished him swimming in as much or less time without throwing four or five bumpers.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby ryanr » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:08 pm

It's simple, get them into& enjoying as many different bodies of water as possible. I haven't seen a hunting bred GWP yet that didn't love any water if they were properly exposed like that.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby 3drahthaars » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:54 pm

Personally, I would wait until after pup's first hunting season to NA...

It's amazing how search, pointing, swimming, and retrieving develop when you train less and hunt more.

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Re: water concerns?

Postby Doc E » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:25 pm

First, you have to understand that I am a Labrador guy and not a GWP guy, but by 10 months, we will have done "Water Force" and "Force Fetch".

it's not uncommon for a dog not to want to enter water when it looks like it's "out to sea".
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Re: water concerns?

Postby ryanr » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:36 pm

With 10 month old GWPs they'll be too old for NA (16 months & younger) waiting until after their first hunting season but I don't disagree with that benefit.

To the OP, it really isn't hard. They likely didn't do it because it was a brand new place to them, especially if they are used to swimming at only one pond. Get them in plenty of different ponds, lakes & streams. As for bumpers, those are only to entice the pup to swim out into the water a few yards. They don't have to retrieve it but they do have to enter the water, swim & exit the water fully at least twice. As was mentioned, get them excited to chase after and get the bumpers first and then toss it. You can use treats too as a reward each time they swim out and get it. That way by the time test day comes they probably won't balk at getting the bumper, especially a second time. Make sure they'll do all this independent of each other too. Like I said I don't think it takes much to get a GWP to love all water once you get them introduced to a variety of it.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby crackerd » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:37 am

EED wrote:I have two GWP pups that are not quite 10 months old. We have been slowly working toward the NA test in late August. They are progressing well. Up until last night, I had no concern about the swimming portion. However, last night both pups decided that they did not want to enter the water. I am fairly certain they are not afraid of the water as both will enter the water multiple times as we are out on runs (ie creeks and farm ponds). They swim fine. Last night we were at a new larger pond and they wanted nothing to do with the water.


"They" may be a big part of your problem - you will be testing a pup individually in NA, not in tandem. What happens if you keep one of them crated and try to get the second pup into the water? Running them together is altogether different, but retriever or retrieving training is a solo endeavor from the start.

I learned the hard (and ignorant) way almost 25 years ago in my first NA test. The dog already was retrieving birds from the water, either dead pheasants or chukar that I'd gotten from spaniel training or hunt tests. Never knew there was such a thing as a dummy or bumper. Then the dog gung-ho on retrieving birds wouldn't get into the water for a dummy - or wouldn't get in the water for two dummies, one of them being me - and the judges had to splash a bird to entice her. She did a "big air" entry but what good was that, since in the NA test, your score is halved if I recall correctly when birds are needed to get a dog to enter the water.

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Re: water concerns?

Postby 3drahthaars » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:11 am

crackerd wrote:
EED wrote:I have two GWP pups that are not quite 10 months old. We have been slowly working toward the NA test in late August. They are progressing well. Up until last night, I had no concern about the swimming portion. However, last night both pups decided that they did not want to enter the water. I am fairly certain they are not afraid of the water as both will enter the water multiple times as we are out on runs (ie creeks and farm ponds). They swim fine. Last night we were at a new larger pond and they wanted nothing to do with the water.


"They" may be a big part of your problem - you will be testing a pup individually in NA, not in tandem. What happens if you keep one of them crated and try to get the second pup into the water? Running them together is altogether different, but retriever or retrieving training is a solo endeavor from the start.

I learned the hard (and ignorant) way almost 25 years ago in my first NA test. The dog already was retrieving birds from the water, either dead pheasants or chukar that I'd gotten from spaniel training or hunt tests. Never knew there was such a thing as a dummy or bumper. Then the dog gung-ho on retrieving birds wouldn't get into the water for a dummy - or wouldn't get in the water for two dummies, one of them being me - and the judges had to splash a bird to entice her. She did a "big air" entry but what good was that, since in the NA test, your score is halved if I recall correctly when birds are needed to get a dog to enter the water.

MG


Excellent observation...

... and I'd add that after making the mistake of training siblings, I'll never try again. I'm too old and too lazy, and I only need one pup at a time.

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Re: water concerns?

Postby EED » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:40 pm

Thanks to all for the replies and advice.

The day after my post I took them back to the same pond. After a good bit of coaxing and standing a few feet out in the water, they both got in for a very short swim. This was done individually. I praised them and quit immediately after they swam. Today I took them to a more familiar pond. One of them would get in and swim after a bumper fine. The other (the more dominant of the two) took alot of coaxing, but she eventually got in and swam three times. I had to get in the pond and command "here". She did it every time I gave the command. I guess its a start. Ill keep working at it in new and familiar places. I'll hold off on the cheetos and birds until it looks like were not making progress.

To answer a few things. The test is in late August. Yeah, I didn't realize that training two siblings would be such a challenge. That was not the original plan, but where things ended up. I have done every training session individually since they were 3-4 mos old. I have never had them in a training field at the same time. The other is always in the kennel in the back of the truck out of sight. I think its interesting how they are siblings, but have such different personalities. The less dominant of the two really shines during individual training. It is alot of work, but I/m really enjoying it.

Thanks again for the suggestions
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Re: water concerns?

Postby oldtimer » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:23 am

3drahthaars wrote:Personally, I would wait until after pup's first hunting season to NA...

It's amazing how search, pointing, swimming, and retrieving develop when you train less and hunt more.

3ds


Good advice.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby JTracyII » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:42 pm

EED wrote:Thanks to all for the replies and advice.

The day after my post I took them back to the same pond. After a good bit of coaxing and standing a few feet out in the water, they both got in for a very short swim. This was done individually. I praised them and quit immediately after they swam. Today I took them to a more familiar pond. One of them would get in and swim after a bumper fine. The other (the more dominant of the two) took alot of coaxing, but she eventually got in and swam three times. I had to get in the pond and command "here". She did it every time I gave the command. I guess its a start. Ill keep working at it in new and familiar places. I'll hold off on the cheetos and birds until it looks like were not making progress.

To answer a few things. The test is in late August. Yeah, I didn't realize that training two siblings would be such a challenge. That was not the original plan, but where things ended up. I have done every training session individually since they were 3-4 mos old. I have never had them in a training field at the same time. The other is always in the kennel in the back of the truck out of sight. I think its interesting how they are siblings, but have such different personalities. The less dominant of the two really shines during individual training. It is alot of work, but I/m really enjoying it.

Thanks again for the suggestions


Looks like your on the right track. Id stay away from the Cheetos as well if at all possible. Just be consistent and make it fun. Sounds like they will come around.
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Re: water concerns?

Postby ckirsch » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:57 pm

I've used the Cheeto's with a couple of pups with no issues whatsoever. Both were initially tentative about entering water, but went on to 112 NA's and nailed 4's in all of their UT water work. Only had to use it once with each of those pups, and they were so engrossed with the treats that they quickly swam right out for them, dropping any apprehension about water in the process. I'd have eventually gotten them in the water without the Cheeto's, but the bribing seemed to expedite the process and saved me from having to clean out my truck after climbing into it following an excursion in the foul-smelling muck.

Have some of you had pups that became too dependent on the Cheeto's?
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Re: water concerns?

Postby JTracyII » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:55 pm

ckirsch wrote:I've used the Cheeto's with a couple of pups with no issues whatsoever. Both were initially tentative about entering water, but went on to 112 NA's and nailed 4's in all of their UT water work. Only had to use it once with each of those pups, and they were so engrossed with the treats that they quickly swam right out for them, dropping any apprehension about water in the process. I'd have eventually gotten them in the water without the Cheeto's, but the bribing seemed to expedite the process and saved me from having to clean out my truck after climbing into it following an excursion in the foul-smelling muck.

Have some of you had pups that became too dependent on the Cheeto's?


I guess I should have been clearer. It sounds like what you did is no problem at all. Using Cheetos to get a dog to get in and swim a time or two. What I was saying I would probably avoid is having to resort to going through all if the work of classically conditioning the pups to swim by creating an association between a bumper and the anticipation of a Cheeto. Seems like it would work to get through the test, but I would hope to have more water love and/or retrieving desire in the dog so as not to have to resort to that.
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