A while ago, I decided to teach Totte, almost nine years old, to retrieve game.
Once, a long time ago, maybe when he was about a year old, we actually trained a little with game. One might say that he was curiously skeptical. I got my breakthrough when I used his happy mood when I come home to give him a crow, because he always takes something in his mouth and runs around with when I come home. I described this in our book Retrieving For All Occasions. But then Totte fell ill and I soon realized that he’ll never start at a trial or hunt, so I just abandoned that training.
But a while ago someone asked us to create an online course on teaching the dog to take game. I’ve considered this before, but never got around to doing it. This was the kick in the butt that I needed. But I needed a dog to work through the exercises with; a dog that could show different steps and challenges with taking game that I could video for the course. And my gaze fell on Totte, which is the one of the four-legged family members who doesn’t already have these skills.
Most people who begin introducing game to the dog when it’s still a puppy and then keeps working on this as the dog matures, have no issues with the dog handling game.
However, nine out of ten teams that we get in our classed didn’t start out this way and most often joins us with a slightly older dog who’s most often curious and skeptical. Or super-skeptical. 😉 About one in ten is “crazy” and tries to eat or tear the game into pieces …
I think I have seen almost everything when it comes to handling game 🙂 From rolling on it, peeing on it, the dog almost vomiting, licking, picking, pulling, breaking into pieces, trying to eat it, taking it and running off far in the other direction with it, to nibbling on it and taking it really well and just bringing it to the trainer.
The latter is not the most common, even if it happens.
It is very fun training, where you get to really think about things and trying to find your dog’s keys for enjoying retrieving game. The more I have to try to figure stuff out, the better I think!
In the first training session with Totte he was a real trooper and showed up both how to pee on the game and how to roll on it so I could get that on video for the course, haha.;) After a while the game ended up being too interesting to resist and he carried it a few meters before he left it.
The goal is, of course, for him to be able to retrieve game as well as he retrieves a dummy. Do you want to join us and teach your dog to do the same?
Here comes a summary (one minute of a total of ten minutes) of Totte’s first training session, including panting and rolling. I’ll show you what happened in between another day 😉