E-Collar burned, won't retrieveI have a seven month old male chocolate lab. Up until his sixth month I had him progressing nicely on retrieves. He was steady and although after a while would loose interest he was doing well. At six months he began to loose interest right away. So I borrowed an e-collar from a friend to see if I could train with it. However, I made the mistake of not learning how to use it correctly, and after only one correction scared the dog. Now he will not retrieve at all (except for toys occasionally, and only inside the house), but hides between my legs when I throw his dummies. I have not exposed him to birds as of yet, but was planning on doing so very soon.
Should I expose home to birds, or wait to see if is desire to retrieve dummies comes back, and how do I get that desire to return?
First, I have to warn you that you may have permanently damaged this dog's desire and drive. Far too often I am presented with a case like yours and the outcome is never great.
I am going to recommend some fairly extreme solutions.
First, you need to stop training this dog immediately! Leave him alone for at least a few weeks. Take him on walks, socialize him, let him swim but do not under any circumstance throw anything for this dog. He needs to put a lot of distance between himself and the bad association of the e-collar.
After the dog has spent some time away from the retrieving, you need to take the dog to a pro and tell him about the problem. The dog needs some very positive experiences (lots of free, fun, live and dead birds) in a totally new environment. When his drive to retrieve has been repaired, he must be carefully force fetched without the collar.
A note on the dog's early lack of interest in retrieving. You stated that the dog was "steady" at this early age. Steadying is a process that should take several months. I always want to build a young dog's drive to retrieve before I even think about making him steady. I want to see a 5 or 6 month old pup that is so crazy to make the retrieve that I have to hold him in a bear hug to keep him a the line. We teach steady after I know the steadying process won't upset his drive.
Unfortunately your rush to develop your young dog may have been his undoing. You are going to need professional intervention if there is any hope of salvaging this dog.
Please feel free to contact me privately if you have any more questions.
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