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Eating the Retrieve

Dear Trainers
I got a 6 month GSP that I hunt since she was 3 months old with my 11yr old Weimer. The GSP ate two birds at the end of the day in the last two hunts. She will not come when I call her once she gets a bird or anything else in her mouth. She always beats the Weimer on the downed birds and then hides them--except when she ate them. My weimer has taken away the birds from the hide each time and brought them to me. She also took the birds away from the pups mouth couple of times. I wonder if the pup is simply assuring possession by eating the birds or she is just plain hungry or whether she just plain likes the taste, or all of the above.. I do not feed her during the hunt, because I worry about Bloat and such based on previous bad experiences. Otherwise the pup does everything else very very well. Comes to the whistle 100% of the time, steady point, dynamite nose, perfect quartering/search, honors points etc.
I appreciate any comments.

Dear Spiros:

This problem usually arises when a pup is hunted way to early in life. Evan at six months your pup is going on pure instinct. Find the bird, point the bird, get the bird and eat the bird! The good news is it sounds like the pup is a good prospect. I suggest you try the following.

  1. Stop working your pup with the older dog. This can cause lots of problems such as trailing and even blinking birds. There is also a good chance that your pup is eating birds to keep them away from the older dog.

  2. Slow Down. Take pup off birds for a few months. Concentrate on yard work. Particularly on whoa and your "here" command. Obviously pup is not 100% solid on the whistle or it would come to you when it has a bird.

  3. Stop all retrieving work. I would wait until pup is at least one year old. Then see if the pup will retrieve a dummy. For the first few retrieves keep the pup on a check cord. When pup picks up the dummy praise like crazy, give your "here" command and as the pup moves toward you, back away to make the retrieve just a little bit longer. Once pup is close to you pet and praise like a mad man. Make pup think this is the best thing it's ever done. Don't try to take the dummy. Let pup hold it for a minute so. Then gently push the dummy into pups mouth. The pup will probably release the dummy. Limit the pup to three retrieves a day. Always put your pup way wanting more retrieves. Once your pup is retrieving the dummy free of the check cord. Put the cord back on and try the same drill with a frozen pigeon, then a cold pigeon, then a warm dead pigeon and finally a live pigeon. If you have waited long enough and worked up slowly, the eating birds problem should be gone. However, if at any time pup refuses to retrieve, starts to chew the dummy, eat a bird or refuses to give you the bird. STOP EVERYTHING and force break the dog to retrieve. If you have no experience with force retrieving you should get some help from a Pro. But if it's done correctly you will have a solid retriever that will not damage birds and will always retrieve.

  4. I don't think this problem has anything to do with the pup being hungry. However I think it's a good idea to feed dogs a light meal three or four hours before hunting. And something every few hours to keep there energy levels peaked.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you something to go on.
Happy Hunting Joe Riches

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