8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

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8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Bbarr » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:46 pm

Hello everyone,

This is my first post, but I’ve been following along for the past year ever since I started looking for my first dog. I’ve tried to absorb the advice people have given here and in other forums. I bought a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy in April (Winston). He seemed born with a drive to retrieve. He will fetch balls and teal duck dokken on water or land. He does occasionally get the idea to trot elsewhere with his prize, but I’ll tap him on his ecollar and he’ll come over and place the item in my hand with the “give” command. We don’t play tug of war or keep away, and the only things he is allowed to chew on are his Kong and a giant flossy-chew rope.

I introduced him to quail last weekend. He has a high bird drive and really enjoyed being in the field and tracking down the planted quail, but he chomped on the bird when I sent him for the retrieve after the bird was shot. I think he might have swallowed the first whole if I hadn’t reeled him in with the check cord. He did similar on the following couple of birds where he bit down on them. He would give them to me on “give” once I had him close, but they were pretty mangled. We continued letting him find the birds, but I didn’t let him retrieve after the shot. I didn’t want him to develop [more/worse] bad habits. I froze some of the quail and have been working with those in my back yard this week. He doesn’t seem to retrieve those with much gusto and he still seems to want to chomp down on the carcass.

I live in Memphis and mostly hunt ducks, so developing a hard mouth is very concerning. He doesn’t seem to chew on his duck sized Dokken, but it also isn’t soft and feathery. It’s also large in his mouth, so I think that helps to keep him from playing with it. I’m not sure if it’s a problem that corrects itself with more exposure to birds, if I should get a quail sized Dokken so he experiences something closer in size to small birds, if I should start the force fetch process before duck season, or what I might be missing. I’d love some advice if anyone has experienced this.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby ANick » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:52 pm

Bbar,
At 8 months and into the season... do limit the retrieves on game, especially the quail sized.
Ideally, as soon as the adult teeth are in, about 6 months, you would have started FF (Force Fetch), also referred to as the Trained Retrieve. I'll also add the caveat that the pup has no issues with the teeth coming in like retained upper canines which would cause a sore mouth. (Retained upper canines isn't too much of a thing usually.. another story there.)
Generally, there's a lot of latitude and conversation on whether to do FF before or after 'bird work'. I lean more to the FF first, but more than one person will say that's silly!

Where you are now.. as mentioned above, I'd not give the pup opportunity to build any more of a bad habit. I don't know if I'd do the FF in mid season. If you have a NAVHDA group near (you should) you might find a mentor there that can help you through. Understanding the process, of which there are a great many "systems" or methods to confuse things, is VERY important for you to really grasp well. You have to have a certain confidence in what you are doing and a fair bit of calm patience so the Pup has confidence in YOU. Picking up a mentor is good, if you get a good one to match up with you and the pup.

For a LOT of discussion information, do a forum search here, "How to teach Force Fetch". Those discussions can be a bit lively, but there's a bunch of experience there too. Read up.. and if you have more questions (likely) keep your thread (this one) up and current. You are not the first, nor will you be the last to ask.

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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:37 am

The Perfect Retrieve DVD provides excellent detailed verbal/visual instruction on how to train through the problem you are experiencing.

http://www.perfectionkennel.com/order-dvds.html
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby flitecontrol » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:16 am

I had a pup that wasn't as bad as yours, but he wasn't soft mouthed either. When we had a freshly killed bird, I would hold it in my hand and tell him to fetch. Initially, this confused him, so the first time or two I had to open his jaws and put the hand with the bird in his mouth. At first, he bit down fairly hard and I would feign injury, yell ouch! and tell him "eeeaasssy". When he learned what eeeaasssy meant, I would offer the bird without my hand on it, and tell him eeeaasssy when he reached for it. That seemed to soften up his mouth, but not sure if it would work for every dog. You should wear leather gloves if you think pup might chomp you.
I've had several really good dogs, but none were perfect. Neither am I, so keep that in mind!
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby orhunter » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:35 am

My first Griff did that so I quit hunting quail with her. She was fine with larger birds.

It's not the time of year to be working a dog on pen raised birds, get her out to hunt wild stuff and the problem may go away on its own.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby JONOV » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:44 am

I don't think its anything to be worried about. But, I would keep her off quail. At 8 months you can do a force fetch program if you aren't hunting with her these next two months.

My dog did it, and while he doesn't chomp them anymore, he does seem to glom onto quail like I'd suck on a mint. I'd imagine he wouldn't be able to do that with a duck.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Sooty42 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:43 am

I agree avoid the quail. They are to small and enticing.

This is my pups first hunting season and he has retrieved grouse a lot better than quail. He gave the quail up to me, but reluctantly. I could see by the look in his eye that he wanted to eat them.

I have not FF yet. Not sure if I will. But I have decided if I do, to wait till he has one season under his belt, so he can just have fun and it gives me time to decide if FF is needed.

Trade a high value treat for a retrieved bird. I take a zip loc with liver treats in it when I hunt. A yummy treat that they don’t get very often helps to persuade them to give up their bird.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby ryanr » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:24 pm

When you say tap him on the e-collar, do you actually mean with stimulation or just tone? If it's stimulation I would quit doing that right now when he's carrying stuff, I certainly would not do it all with a bird in his mouth. He's a 8 month old puppy and he's going to be a puppy for at least another year- don't be in too much of a hurry to get from puppy to broke dog. For sure don't let him chew or crunch birds but also at that young age you can help.shape good behavior with a bird in his mouth. Like AG recommends, follow a good plan like Perfect Retrieve. A good step by step plan is worth the minor investment, much better I think than piecemealing it together with various YouTube videos.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Bbarr » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:27 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful replies, everyone. I’ll lay off the planted quail and fetching quail for now. I think I’ll try to make duck season a lot of fun for him and hope that those larger birds will be less tempting to swallow whole. I will explore force fetch training once the season is over.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Bbarr » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:51 pm

[quote="ryanr"]When you say tap him on the e-collar, do you actually mean with stimulation or just tone?

I haven’t used any stimulation around birds or while there was a bird in his mouth. I’ve only used it with training dummies and only ever with very low stimulation. His tail keeps wagging, but it does get him to come my direction if he starts going elsewhere. He doesn’t seem to have any less zeal for the next throw and he seems pumped when I pull out the ecollar because it’s “fun time”. It’s not intuitive to me, but that might have been a problem. I certainly have a less than perfect result on my hands, so I did something suboptimally. I’ve seen the Perfect Retrieve pop up frequently, so I’ll have to give that a look.
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Drahthaar1108 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:43 pm

I went thru hard mouth with my current dog , I taught him the word easy by when he retrieved a bird hard mouth I pushed his gums into his teeth until he hollered , keep him on a check cord when he was retrieving , if he even started to be hard mouth I would say easy. Forrest
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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby ANick » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:47 am

Bbarr,
Hope that you and the pup are enjoying the season.
I came back to re-read this post after reviewing a spin-off thread, which might seem familiar, should you see it.

There are a couple of things that I think I'm seeing in your story. I'm not typing this to be hyper-critical of your efforts, and will apologize ahead of time if I'm off base. Let me know though. :)

First dog. This, oddly enough, will also be your first time training your dog. There will be great times and some 'do-overs' required. Keep calm, consistent and patient with both the pup and yourself. Finish your training sessions on a high point of 'good performance' with more shorter sessions. It never hurts to stop while the pup is still wanting to do more. It'll keep his head in the game better. It's also easier on you. It sounds a little trite, but that is important. If you are overly tired, bored or distracted, and / or not having a good time, the pup WILL pick up on that. The pup will get nervous, perhaps, and then start screwing up, which will cue behavior from you.. and a fast descending spiral of frustration is fully in action.

If things start being odd, back off and do three good somethings. I've gone so far to back out of whatever I was working on to, "Sit!" and then piling on praise for such a great job of sitting three whole times!! Even if it requires an Oscar winning performance, that pup sitting on command for you was just the best thing since the wheel got an axle!!! Leave them on a high and you start the next time out on a high. Try again tomorrow.

One of THE tricky parts of dog training can probably be right between our ears. You want the pup to do something. Good. How does the pup KNOW what you want? If I put a bumper or a bird out in front of a pup and say, "Hold"... the first time out, the pup is maybe going to sniff what I'm holding and maybe look at me funny, or want to play with it. You saying, "Hold!", means nothing to the pup.
If you have been excitedly engaged in playing ball with the pup, tossing the tennis ball, telling him to, "Fetch!", and rewarding spirited and fun behavior, that might include a chomp on a tennis ball, ask yourself, "What does Fetch mean to the pup?". I'm willing to bet that you and the pup have different thoughts of the matter.

You need to teach the pup what, "Hold" means. Whether you are going old school FF, or more of a 'Trained Retrieve', the pup needs to learn that the training buck, bumper and bird are NOT toys to play with. Nor treats. I'll put a link in for one very gentle version of introducing this 'Hold' thing. The Hold is learned for all manner of items, including game. Along with the Hold, the Release is taught, if you haven't already. (*Full disclosure, Dot, my current 'pup' learned the release at a very young age. I wanted my socks back. :) ) The 'Hold' will eventually include a reach for the item, and then the ground and then movement TO the item and a return for the Release. "Fetch", is introduced as the command for that, "Go To Item - Grip and Hold- Return - Release".

Each of those steps is important, but Hold and the Release are arguably the base.

Here's one way to introduce the topic to a young pup that's as stress free as you could ask for. The whole video is 20 odd minutes long, with some good tips within. The pup is all of 5 months old so still not finished with the adult teeth. The initial buck is a bit big, it does get changed out in a ways, but even so, it's a pretty quick progression. Getting the pup to actually reach for the buck during FF can be some sessions along... but watch around / after the 8 minute mark. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... hPdkWDq3Y0

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Re: 8 Month Old Puppy Chewing Birds

Postby Willie T » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:36 am

Bbarr, the video Nick posted is a good one. I have a few suggestions that may help you.
Establish solid obedience. At 8 months your dog is old enough. Short OB sessions in the yard are where it's at. Completely away from birds. Teach first. When the dog can do them three days in a row with zero mistakes it knows them. After that milestone is reached you can enforce them with a mild correction. Be consistent but understand your dog will have good days and bad days. Give the command once. If it does not comply help it do so every time. One command at a time shore up OB. After all this is done, and it will take a while, you can proof them by adding distractions. Until that is done, you should anticipate non compliance. Do not give any command that you are not in position and willing to ensure 100% compliance, first time, every time. Consistency is the key to solid OB over time, and will require maintenance.

Teach hold with a bumper as well as "leave it" or "drop". Be patient and consistent. Use a milky bone or other treat to teach "gentle". Teach the dog to gingerly take the treat and hold it. Then leave it. Then reward it. Use the rule of three. Transfer that to your bumper. Finally after a clear line of communication has been established, transfer it to birds. This is done in the yard (controlled environment) don't get in a hurry. Don't roll it out in the field until the dog has it. My personal thought is not to administer correction with birds at this stage. The time for that is down the road, if you choose to go down the FF path. I would not sacrifice the development of his first season to undertake FF.

Lose the chew toys. Bumpers, birds, and something to eat is what goes on a bird dogs mouth. They only thing that it's ok to chew up had better be meant for them to eat. At that age they all have a little termite in them. Some more than others. Don't encourage it. Chewing on what they carry in their mouth is a bad habit you want to avoid.

This work needed to be done prior to season but that ship has sailed. We were all first timers and had to learn. Keep the work separate from the field and resist the urge to test. Right now you need to teach and develop the habits your dog needs.
Good luck working it out with your pup. The first ones are special. We learn the most with them. I also remember the most about my first bird dog. I thought she hung the moon.
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