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I have a brittany I've been training and introduced a pheasant wing from last season. (I've kept a few for the purpose so she can get used to feathers). Anyway, she loves the wings, to the point that she clamps down hard and doesn't release. Any other training item, bumpers, ropes, personal toys she will give pretty willingly. But for whatever reason she does not want to let go of this and I have to force it out.

Any training suggestions or ideas?
 

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I went through the same thing with a lab years ago. I feel your frustration. This sounds cruel but it worked for me. I took a bumper, wrapped it with a little barbed wire and wrapped the wing over the wire. When he "clamped" down on it he didn't like what he felt. He got the idea after a few times and began to release when told.


Similar to force fetch but not with a string attached to the toe ran through the collar.
 

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I agree with wagdog above. If you haven't done force fetch I'd strongly recommend it. I did it with my dog at about the year mark. I followed this series to the letter.
 

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I have used frozen chukars to play fetch with in the past and it seemed to loosen up their jaws. They can't bite into a frozen bird and a frozen bird lasts a long time so you can throw it around and have them retrieve it. I generally cut the head and feet off the bird so they can't bite down and chew on something when retrieving.

I have never had to force fetch a dog--I play fetch with a tennis ball in the back yard with the dog starting when they are a little puppy--only takes ten minutes a day and they get the hang of it. When the dog is bigger I move up to a frozen chukar. I play fetch along the side of my house so the dog can't run off but has to come to me with the item to retrieve. Maybe it's just the breed of dog I have but the 5 dogs I have trained have all been easy and are pretty good upland retrievers--a lot of it is natural. They wouldn't hold a candle to a well trained lab but they find dead birds and bring them back to me so I can't complain.
 

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Also, you should check out our local chapter of NAVHDA. They have been a huge help to me in training my dog. http://wmnavhda.com/
 
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Also, you should check out our local chapter of NAVHDA. They have been a huge help to me in training my dog. http://wmnavhda.com/
I think NAVHDA can be a good resource for folks but honestly the thing that makes a good upland bird dog is wild birds. I'm not here to piss anyone off but when I have time to spend with my dogs I am going to put the priority on running them in the wild in an area with wild birds. This is from strictly a hunter's perspective who does not care about field trials but from August til the end of February if you are driving to a training event or a field to train and not driving to a forest or BLM ground to run on wild birds you are doing your dog and yourself a disservice. Just a friendly reminder all ya got to do is run your dog and they will pretty much train themselves if it's a well bred dog.
 

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I think NAVHDA can be a good resource for folks but honestly the thing that makes a good upland bird dog is wild birds. I'm not here to piss anyone off but when I have time to spend with my dogs I am going to put the priority on running them in the wild in an area with wild birds. This is from strictly a hunter's perspective who does not care about field trials but from August til the end of February if you are driving to a training event or a field to train and not driving to a forest or BLM ground to run on wild birds you are doing your dog and yourself a disservice. Just a friendly reminder all ya got to do is run your dog and they will pretty much train themselves if it's a well bred dog.
You won't piss any NAVHDA members off with what you said (at least not me!). Wild birds are the best teachers. My dog busted covey after covey when he was little. It took a good two months of three hunts a week, multiple bird contacts per hunt, and me not shooting them until he locked up and held instead of flash pointed. I got into NAVHDA because I wanted to see what a good bird dog looked like and it has taught me a lot about what I like and don't like in a dog. In my opinion, the main thing that helps a well bred dog is exposure.

I know other NAVHDA chapters may run tests through hunting season but we run our last test in August and close until March the following year.
 

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I have never had to force fetch a dog--I play fetch with a tennis ball in the back yard with the dog starting when they are a little puppy--only takes ten minutes a day and they get the hang of it. When the dog is bigger I move up to a frozen chukar. I play fetch along the side of my house so the dog can't run off but has to come to me with the item to retrieve. Maybe it's just the breed of dog I have but the 5 dogs I have trained have all been easy and are pretty good upland retrievers--a lot of it is natural. They wouldn't hold a candle to a well trained lab but they find dead birds and bring them back to me so I can't complain.
Before I force fetched my current dog, I thought force fetch was just about getting the dog to fetch---and my dog was a fetching nutjob so why would I need to force it?! Now, I understand that it is about obedience and way more than just building retrieve drive in the dog. I ended up with a much better dog all around because of force fetch, and I will absolutely run all of my hunting dogs through it going forward. Plus, I can now have the dog clean up the living room after the kids go to bed, so that's nice too ;)
 

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Everyone who's posted knows way more than me, but another idea is to really praise her while she still has the wing in her mouth so she doesn't have to give it up right away. Let her have her little reward for a bit before taking it away and then praise the heck out of her again once you get it out of her mouth.
 

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Everyone who's posted knows way more than me, but another idea is to really praise her while she still has the wing in her mouth so she doesn't have to give it up right away. Let her have her little reward for a bit before taking it away and then praise the heck out of her again once you get it out of her mouth.
And after taking it away, give it back to her for a little bit. That helps her confidence build that by giving it to you it isn't gone from her forever.
 

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I think NAVHDA can be a good resource for folks but honestly the thing that makes a good upland bird dog is wild birds. I'm not here to piss anyone off but when I have time to spend with my dogs I am going to put the priority on running them in the wild in an area with wild birds. This is from strictly a hunter's perspective who does not care about field trials but from August til the end of February if you are driving to a training event or a field to train and not driving to a forest or BLM ground to run on wild birds you are doing your dog and yourself a disservice. Just a friendly reminder all ya got to do is run your dog and they will pretty much train themselves if it's a well bred dog.
Totally agree. No substitute for wild birds.

What NAVHDA has done for me is given me structure around training my dog. I'm three years into learning how to hunt, and I'm a first-time handler. These guys have shown me the potential of my dog and helped me get the most out of him. I'm less concerned with how my dog competes in a test and more concerned with training him to perform well (which translates to the field).
 
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Totally agree. No substitute for wild birds.

What NAVHDA has done for me is given me structure around training my dog. I'm three years into learning how to hunt, and I'm a first-time handler. These guys have shown me the potential of my dog and helped me get the most out of him. I'm less concerned with how my dog competes in a test and more concerned with training him to perform well (which translates to the field).
I agree, and one thing I wanted to highlight that I really love about the NAVHDA testing system is that the dogs are not "competing" but are rather evaluated based on a fixed standard--which is very different from AKC trials
 

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I agree, and one thing I wanted to highlight that I really love about the NAVHDA testing system is that the dogs are not "competing" but are rather evaluated based on a fixed standard--which is very different from AKC trials
Definitely agree. Only one we're competing against is ourselves. And frankly, it's just me. My dog is out there just playing a fun game while I'm over here fretting and worrying about things. There's a life lesson in there somewhere!
 
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Before I force fetched my current dog, I thought force fetch was just about getting the dog to fetch---and my dog was a fetching nutjob so why would I need to force it?! Now, I understand that it is about obedience and way more than just building retrieve drive in the dog.
^^THIS^^
 

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I have been amazed at just how much Ava has improved in her overall obedience and polish since we did force fetch. She was already a fast learner and very cooperative, but force fetch really helped her to learn how to learn, and me to learn how to teach her. I went from a highly skeptical, reluctant to do it force fetcher to a die-hard believer over the course of those 6 weeks last winter.

And to the OP, Ava had one of the worst cases of gator mouth I have ever seen in a dog (and still needs the occasional reminder to "Hold" when she gets too excited). First time she had a duck in her mouth she literally bit it in half when she first grabbed it. Force fetch turned that around very nicely.
 

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And to the OP, Ava had one of the worst cases of gator mouth I have ever seen in a dog (and still needs the occasional reminder to "Hold" when she gets too excited). First time she had a duck in her mouth she literally bit it in half when she first grabbed it. Force fetch turned that around very nicely.
GATOR MOUTH! That's a good one! Yeah I was in that boat too. I've never seen a dog swallow birds until I watched my tire fire down a collared dove like a me (a fat guy) at a catfish buffet. Force fetch seems to get a bad rap. Trained retrieve is the more PC term but I'm not very PC. I think it does a dog and handler good to go through it.
 

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GATOR MOUTH! That's a good one! Yeah I was in that boat too. I've never seen a dog swallow birds until I watched my tire fire down a collared dove like a me (a fat guy) at a catfish buffet.
I'm sure I'm not the first to use the term, but it was what first popped in my head when she retrieved 1/2 a duck from the pile and I had to send her back for the other half! Been using it ever since!
 

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The frozen bird is a great suggestion. Hold conditioning/force fetch whichever way you choose should go in this order
-paint roller
-dowel/bumper
-bumper with feathers
-frozen bird
-thawed bird


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