Crunching Birds

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Mutch31
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Crunching Birds

Post by Mutch31 » Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:35 pm

I have a 3yr old yellow lab who is a very driven and talented dog. We had him trained by professionals and he was doing great. Anyways we entered him a few times into the junior hunt and he did great. Then hunting season began and so did his crunching of birds, it is easy to control him when we are hunting as he has his collar on. This past summer he would be fine for the 1st couple events (Senior Hunt) but he would end up crunching a bird and getting DQ. He once ran away from me after he brought the last bird within 5 feet of me (and he crunched and ate part of the bird). He once brought the bird back dropped it and put his paw on it and took a chunk out...We have used birds for training with tacs in it, we have tried remote drops with him..nothing works...I would love suggestions from anyone...

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EvanG
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by EvanG » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:02 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e2ElWuosrA

The dog we used in the video clip came to us with a hard mouth, also. A bit of correction can be seen in the clip, and it's a good deal more than just a cuff under the chin. Perhaps we should start there.

Pressure application in dog training is often misunderstood. But in brief, we use pressure to change behaior. When we use pressure repeatedly, but in amounts too small to change behavior, we're not training; we're nagging. When we routinely using pressure in amounts larger than needed to change behavior, we're not training; we're abusing.

The dog determines the amount, and frequency - to an extent, at least. If you're only temporarily changing behavior that frequently reemerges, you need to settle the issue and move on.

Do you feel the corrective pressure you've applied so far fits into this description?

EvanG
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snips
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by snips » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:35 am

You said he was Professionally trained, was he also force fetched?
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gonehuntin'
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by gonehuntin' » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:52 am

Excellent post Evan. In my view, severe mouth problems, which this do IS developing, are impossible to cure. The best you can do is to control them but beware; they'll always be there, lurking in the bushes to embarass you at first opportunity.

It is a job best done by a professional. There are precious few amateurs that have the knowledge and patience to cure or control a dog with severe mouth problms.

Here are some hints on working with a dog with mouth problems: Never let the dog jerk his head away from you. Make him sit quietly and deliver the bird, looking at YOU, not away. Never let him put his head down; keep his nose up. Never PULL the bird from a dogs mouth; make him open his when you command drop and pull his head away from the bird. Never let him work his jaws on a bird or a bumper. Never let him have a slow pickup. Make him come to heel immediately, no circling or flaring to the side. Train on both bumpers and birds. I hate frozen birds. A dog rarely exhibits mouth problems on frozen birds, it's the gushy, shot up live ones.

That should get you started, but you're going to need a pro. Your dog has a most severe problem if he stops and tears the bird up. A force HERE is also in order.
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by Mutch31 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:15 am

To anwser some questions. Yes he was force fetched by a pro, any of the training that I have done has been under there guidance. We regularly train with them year round. For him I don't really know if there is ever too much pressure. When we were working on honouring and he would break it would take a fair amount to change his mind and bring him back, now he is fine with it...

I think the problem started 2 years ago when I had him out hunting, but I really don't even know.

He has such drive and marking ability it breaks my heart to see him be rough with the birds. He is rough with bumpers to an extent. A firm HOLD and whack on his bottom jaw helps to make him hold and be gentle...

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snips
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by snips » Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:44 pm

Were you hunting with another dog? Were they competing for the duck? Have you asked the person that trained him for his advice?
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by FLocker » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:14 am

I guess I am sort of surprised to see the level of hopelessness from you really experienced guys. Do serious retriever trainers quit on a dog when it shows a tendency to munch birds?

In my experience, folks here are a little over-hysterical about preventing gunshyness, but if this is just as critical and uncurabe of a fault, I'm surprised it's not discussed more.

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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by snips » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:15 am

Well, I asked a question that was not answered...Did not give up, sometimes it helps to hear all the details.
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by Mutch31 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:59 am

No I was only hunting with one dog. There has only been one dog until recently and then are never out retrieving at the same time (unless one dog is honoring in training).

We have worked with the people we train with all the time (we are part of their training group)...We do remote drops with him, he gets a nick on sit when he comes into heal, he gets told hold/easy, he gets a smack under his chin. We take ducks and wrap them in tacs so he won't crunch them, we have bumpers that have shorts nails in them so he can't chew that either...

We are running him in an informal on sunday, so we will see how that goes...

Anymore advice?

THanks,

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crackerd
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by crackerd » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:15 pm

Yeah. Digest (poor pun, but...) everything GH's pointed out about the severity of the situation and think about Evan's reference to "corrective pressure"--and understand that driving thumbtacks in a bird and cuffing it under the chin (or whacking it with a heeling stick) may only be exacerbating your problem.

Crunching birds is the second-fastest route to retirement for a competitive retriever. Sticking on birds is the fastest--and sticking is never cured, but as GH implied, only managed. And it's an ordeal that has to be dealt with day in and day out, not physically but emotionally, since you can very seldom replicate a sticking problem in training. Not to mention sticking usually only occurs at the highest levels of retriever games, and on the last bird of a multiple mark series. Sticking by the way is a refusal to relinquish possession of the bird to the handler. The dog doesn't eat the bird, just won't give it up. So in that sense, it ain't as bad as crunching, but they're equally detrimental for a retriever, especially a competitive retriever.

Keep trying with your training group, but may be best to face up to what you've got: You have sorted it out when hunting with use of the collar; that may be all that you're able to accomplish with this dog's mishandling of birds. Good luck in getting through it; you probably know that masticating birds isn't often seen in retriever tests or trials, but when it does bite a handler in whatever part of their anatomy, there's usually a sudden end to the dog's competitive career.

MG

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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by snips » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:15 pm

The force Here as GH suggested is what I would try. You should also contact the trainer you used for his help. I do not like nails, tacks or gimmicks, as smart dogs soon figure this out...They have to learn to do it right on what he encounters everyday.
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by FLocker » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:58 am

crackerd wrote:Crunching birds is the second-fastest route to retirement for a competitive retriever. Sticking on birds is the fastest--and sticking is never cured, but as GH implied, only managed.
MG
I just searched the forum for "sticking" and "sticking on birds" This has never been brought up in that context. Is that your term, or is there some other term i can use to find some discussion on this incurable fault?

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crackerd
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by crackerd » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:57 pm

If you're training with a pro--a real retriever pro--he or she will size up sticking for you in a split second. No other term for it, except maybe "freezing" on a bird. But sticking is the common term for an uncommon occurrence among competitive retrievers. A couple of breeds are more prone to it, here's an overview of sticking by someone who's in one of those breeds http://www.cinnstar.com/images/pdf/art2.pdf and how to correct it--not cure it even if this particular breeder may think so, and I'm reluctant to even say it can be corrected. "Managed" in the best of circumstances, for tests or trials. But you always have in the back of your mind going to the line, "Is today when it happens again?" Sorry to be discouraging, but that's how it is.

MG

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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by gonehuntin' » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:11 pm

I was training a great dog for a client once, a dog named Diesel. They were making a run for the National Derby Championship with him and he had 36 points. Then he began "sticking". My client bought him cheap, without my permission at a trial, came up to me and said "Take a look in kennel 8 and see what I bought. It was Diesel. I nearly cried and asked him if he was out of his freakin' mind? I told him I'd train him on one and only ONE condition: That we pull him out of trials right now, put him in an organized program, and break him out for the open. He was upset, but agreed. It was to be the worst decision I ever made.

The sticking never went away, but I could tell when he was going to stick. He'd have kind of a glazed look in his eyes and LOOK like he wanted to give me the bird, but wouldn't. He was a son of Thunderhead and more frequently refered to as a son of something else.

We pulled him out of trials and I worked with him for a year, starting him over as a pup would so I had a solid foundation to work with, then started him in the Q. He got two wins right off and we were pushed into the Open. That was the year I retired as a trainer. I ran him in his last trial in Billings, Mt. and got an Open 4th with him. He stuck on the last bird of a water tripple but I managed to get the bird from him. Mike Flannery, who owned River Oaks Corky (a sticker) was judging and that was the only reason I got called back to the 4th series. We got up at 4 a.m., took him out, set him up, got the correction I needed and took 4th place.

Tacks in birds don't work, nails in bumpers don't work, and frozen birds don't work. It's a problem that you'll fight for the dog's entire life. If all of the basics I gave you are not followed, and I mean ALL of them, you don't stand a chance. Good Luck.
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by Mutch31 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:18 pm

I do plan to keep on working on it with him. Many say he could be a FTCH as he has unbelievable drive and marking ability. I just find it funny that the 1st year when I ran him in JH he was fine, it wasn't until next year he started sticking on birds (I don't really like the term, as he actually crunches them)....All this advice is very much appreciated!!!

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crackerd
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by crackerd » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:02 pm

Mutch31 wrote:I do plan to keep on working on it with him. Many say he could be a FTCH as he has unbelievable drive and marking ability. I just find it funny that the 1st year when I ran him in JH he was fine, it wasn't until next year he started sticking on birds (I don't really like the term, as he actually crunches them)....All this advice is very much appreciated!!!
If your dog releases the bird in competition, mangled though it may be, then you don't have a sticker. That simple. You may have a dog that "alligators" a bird (think Florida's "Gator chomp" cheer) when you're trying to take it from the dog; even then it's not sticking because you got the bird. If you don't have a sticker, count your blessings and keep working with your pro on how the dog handles birds. May get better, and a better chance of getting through it than with the other affliction. GH has spelled out what must be done if sticking ensues, and his depiction of it from his personal history gives you the gutwrench that goes with the problem.

I knew of a handler, once(!), who got around sticking in competition with a neat little strategem. What the others advising in this thread aren't aware of, but GH is, is that sticking usually occurs on the last bird retrieved--and in retriever trials and top level hunt tests, that is the third or fourth mark of a triple or a quad. The belief is the dog will give up the bird if it can be convinced there's still another mark to be picked up. See, the dog "knows," having retrieved the third or fourth bird (if it's a quad), that its day is done retrieving, that it gets put back in the truck, and that another retriever gets a turn. So it clamps down on the bird. To wit sticking, which is only "unstuck" by physical force offline--as in prying the dog's jaws open...or letting it keep possession of the bird for the next week.

The best way I've heard of deceiving a dog that was a proven sticker into not sticking was this: A handler got the dog off his truck and then in view of it, threw a duck into cover just beyond where he was parked. He told the dog "Mark" then when the bird landed, led the dog to the holding blind, and eventually to the line to run the test. When the dog had picked up the third bird of a triple, the handler heeled the dog in tight to him then pivoted in synch with the dog toward the truck--and toward the bird that had been thrown beyond it. He told the dog, with the bird still in its mouth, "Mark." And then reached and got the third and last bird of the triple from the dog easy as pie.

MG

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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by Trekmoor » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:06 pm

This question isn't being asked with the intention of being flippant or of being in any way nasty but does things like e- collar training, F.F. training and very intensive training in general actually lead to a dog becoming sticky or maybe hard mouthed ? I don't seem to get those problems even after more than 40 years of training various gundogs.

We have quite a lot of arguments over here as to whether hard mouth is caused by breeding or by training - nature or nurture ? I tend towards the breeding being at fault point of view but I know some things that happen in training or out working seem to cause this too. But is the tendency towards hard mouth already present in a training induced hard mouthed dog ?

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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by gonehuntin' » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:11 pm

MG, that is brilliant. Now, that's one I never thought of!
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Re: Crunching Birds

Post by Mutch31 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:05 pm

I hear everyone talking about sticking (which is a term I have heard a lot, or even freezing on a bird)....Though the term crunching is really what is happening with my dog. He will come back and you can hear him crunch the birds (not on everyone but he will for sure do it at trials). It's not a clamp down crunch, it's like I want to eat you so I will crunch you a few times...

I like that idea of throwing a bird in the bush before your dog goes to the blind (then he thinks there is one more to retrieve still)....

I am not sure if I mentioned or not but on a double with a poison bird he nailed both marks and then picked up the poison bird (which he was suppose to). Well he brought the bird back nicely, dropped it at heal and put his paw on it and took a chunk out of it....

Someone talked about the drop command..On his way back from a retrieve I can blow the whistle and say drop and he will drop it right away (not any hesitation at all). Then a couple toots and he brings the bird/bumper into heal...He is rough on birds and bumpers...

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