No interest in bumpers

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Tests

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No interest in bumpers

Postby EED » Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:09 pm

All, I am a newbie trainer I posted this issue in the general discussion, but thought maybe this is where it belongs.

I have two GWP pups that are not quite 10 months old. We have been slowly working toward the NA test in late August.

A few weeks ago I had concerns bc they would not enter the water after a bumper. We were at a new lake, and I originally thought that maybe the water was the issue. I have since had them in several different bodies of water and I'm pretty certain they are not afraid of the water. It seems that the main issue is that they have little interest in bumpers. They will eagerly retrieve a clipped wing pigeon from the water. Any suggestions on how to get them interested in bumpers?

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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:45 pm

in the test you can also toss a rock into the water to entice the pup to enter and swim. I have heard of some teaching the pup by tossing a rock and when it chases into the water after the splash they toss it a bird or a treat while it is in the water immediately following. The pup learns to jump in expecting a bird or a treat. You will not be able to toss the treat in the test but for some pups it will work good enough tossing the rock a couple of times in a row to get a good score in the test. Its a test trick for sure but perhaps it beats going into the test doomed to get a prize III due to having to use a bird in the alternative.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby Duckdon » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:01 am

Do they retrieve and deliver bumpers on land? If not, they should and that is where I would start.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby EED » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:53 am

Thanks

Don, No they don't. They will chase the bumper on land and sniff it. Neither will pick the bumper up.

1) I would like to at least get them consistently excited about the bumpers so I can get them in the water for the NA test. If I have to, will use a bird during the test. I know they'll swim for a real bird.

2) I assume force fetch would be the solution to the bumper problem in the long run. I don't have the experience to feel confident starting force fetch a month before the test. Is that what you are suggesting?
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:55 pm

Have you tried zip tying a couple of mallard wings to a bumper? Might make it a lot more interesting for your pups and get them retrieving bumpers.

The pup does not have to retrieve the bumper in the test, just enter the water and swim. So if you could build an interest and habit of retrieving bumpers with wings on them, they might start retrieving one without wings. Or they might at least jump in the water after a bumper at the test a couple of times which is all you need.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby JONOV » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:20 am

AverageGuy wrote:Have you tried zip tying a couple of mallard wings to a bumper? Might make it a lot more interesting for your pups and get them retrieving bumpers.

The pup does not have to retrieve the bumper in the test, just enter the water and swim. So if you could build an interest and habit of retrieving bumpers with wings on them, they might start retrieving one without wings. Or they might at least jump in the water after a bumper at the test a couple of times which is all you need.


I did this. I can't say that I would recommend it. I don't know that I would caution against it either.

It did get my dog enthusiastic about the bumpers. I did slowly attach less bird to the bumper in my daily walks to the lake to get him to swim. He did, eventually swim during the test, without a real bird. Actually, at the test I was a little baffled that he balked, as he swam consistently after a bumper leading up to the test day. But, it was a "different" environment, even a dock diver balked a little, and he normally was game to "clean up" what other dogs couldn't.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby ryanr » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:39 am

I wonder, how often are you throwing bumpers (on land and water) for each of your pups? Are you doing a bunch of reps each time?

Are the pups swimming often now just on their own, with or without bumpers?

If you're doing a lot of reps with the bumper perhaps cut back on it drastically and see if their interest increases when the bumper is thrown much less often. Remember to get each pup excited about the bumper right BEFORE you throw it. In the test, they're going to encourage you to really get your pup interested in and excited about the bumper BEFORE you toss it. Tap it on the ground, move it around quickly along the ground in front of pup (to encourage pup to be fired up to chase it down) then toss.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby blue04 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:45 am

I think it's normal for puppies to go through a phase of shifting interests. Time is your friend here.

I've also used a tennis ball on the end of a string to play a game of "seek and chase". Just swing it around on the ground and let them chase after it. This really seems to get pups riled up, and if you follow that with a couple of bumper tosses, you might get that fire stoked again.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:55 pm

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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:58 pm

JONOV wrote:I did this. I can't say that I would recommend it. I don't know that I would caution against it either.

It did get my dog enthusiastic about the bumpers.


I have done it on numerous dogs/puppies starting 30 years ago. I like to get them used to carrying feathers early and using their nose in the cover to find the bumper. Never had any downside to it for my dogs.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby EED » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:19 am

Thanks to all for the suggestions.

We are playing with the bumpers every other day, with 3-4 throws per session.

They are swimming on their own, but still much prefer to run in the fields. When they get hot, they will run along the edge of the water and lay in the shallow water. They very rarely go deep enough to swim unless something catches their eye.

Over the past week, I have started to teach them that when I throw a bumper they have to go in and swim. When they do, I give them lots of praise. Seeing slow improvement with this approach. Over the past 2 weeks, every session has been in a different place. 5 different ponds and a creek.

If I was to use the feathered bumper approach, do you think I would have time to wean them down to regular bumpers by late August?

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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:04 am

Hard for me to say without seeing the dogs. First thing would be to see how much difference it makes in their enthusiasm. If it revs em up I would use it to condition them to get excited about the chase of the object flying through air into the water. Then try mixing it up with bumper with one wing and no wing attached and not letting them see it before you toss it. I do it to get my pups used to carrying feathers, not to solicit water entry, but the wings do add excitement hence why I suggested trying it.

Did you try tossing a rock followed immediately by a bird while they are still in the water to condition them to jump in on the splash of a rock? Bob Farris is the breeder who wrote the article laying out that approach. It is another possible option and as I mentioned before you can get a 4 if your pup enters and swims boldly to the splash twice in a row.

FF is the ultimate answer but no time for that before your test.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby EED » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:51 am

I will give it a try.

Haven't tried the rock then bird approach. I stopped using birds after initially throwing a couple pigeons and confirming that they enthusiastically went in the water after them. Right or wrong, I was hesitant that if I kept using birds that it might strengthen their dislike for bumpers. I understand that in your approach there is no bumper and that's a method to consider.

Yes, FF is the long term answer. As you pointed out not enough time before the test.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:54 am

You are correct in that continued use of birds in a dog that is luke warm or less for bumpers most often does reduce their interest in bumpers. So I believe you did the right thing.

The rock trick is just that. A trick for a hunt test and given you are running out of time I would try one or the other e.g. bumper with a wing attached or rock followed by a bird.

Hoping you have some success for the test but in the grand scheme of things it does not matter in least. You will no doubt get these pups doing reliable water work at some point soon.
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Re: No interest in bumpers

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:14 pm

How did the Test go?
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