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BKinSD’s thread got me to wondering. What do folks expect in a “good” gundog? Retrievers specifically, in this case. I fairly well know what behaviors are important to me, but I’d expect others to have different priorities.

For me, I want a healthy dog, specifically in terms of hips and eyes. I expect good manners on and off lead. In the field, I expect steadiness until released, with decent marking skills and reliable delivery to hand. I expect good handling on blinds out to 75 yards, more or less, depending on the cover. Good hunting and tracking skills in the pheasant field are important to me, though others may not need this. My dogs live in the house, so a calm demeanor is pretty important. The more of these traits I can get through breeding, the less I have to instill through training.

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I expect my Lab to deposit poop evenly across the lawn on a consistent basis....

Other than that... I am happy with what ever I get from him while hunting.... and I am happy with that. Some times he really amazes me...


Well... we have come to the point.... where... the parasites are killing the host. It's only a matter of time now.

They only win.... when they cheat.
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Years ago I came across this while reading the book Game Bird Shooting, published in 1931 by then Captain Charles Askins, father of his better-known son of the same name. It's about pointing dogs, but could also apply to this discussion:

"From 1900 to 1906 I handled a string of field trial dogs and shot a great deal, shooting in every state in the South except Louisiana and South Carolina. Never was a very good trainer, because I liked to shoot too well. Shooting and dog training don’t work well together, but I won sometimes. What really caused me to quit field trials was my loss of a setter that I had trained. He was called Doc Hick, a great field trial dog. He was with me day and night, from the time he was a puppy until he won the United States Subscription Stake at four years old. He was with me day and night, slept under my bed, never out of doors in his whole life, and he ate whatever I had to eat. Having won extensively, he was sold…and had to be sent from Mississippi to Seattle. I put him in his crate, and he certainly thought we were going together. And the next I heard of Doc Hick he was dead.

"I never since have had any heart for dog training. My dogs are now just about the least trained bird dogs that ever went afield, because I never punish them. I let them do what pleases them best, they do the best they know how, and we have the best time together….”


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I have seen more nice dogs and people screwed up by field trials, very few field dog trainers like dogs, they like their ego way more than a dog, field trial guy's will go broke, get divorced, turn into drunks, lie cheat steal to win a field trial, the dogs mean little to them. there are exceptions of course, but they are damn few. prove me wrong. Rio7

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I expect Labs to eventually be a good example of the breed. Some take a little longer than others but they'll usually get it right if you give them a chance and don't expect them to be perfect from the start.

My current Lab, is from Field Trial breeding and was the best all around choice at the time we unexpectedly lost his eleven year old predecessor. He's been a good hunter from the start, almost intuitively knew what to do, but I wouldn't get another from that type of breeding. The most energy of all the Labs I've owned, six, and all that goes with it. Now that he's almost four years old he pretty much knows what we expect. Takes no [bleep] but tries to get along with everyone, people or other dogs. He's not perfect but easily overall good enough as a hunter or a house dog.

Mule Deer, thanks for posting Charles Askins thoughts on this.

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Most good hunting dogs just about train themselves, most Labs train their owners, they are wonderful dogs, for family and hunting, I have owned some wonderful Labs all are different but usually are good people dogs and some of them are good or great hunting dogs. Rio7

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Pointing gundogs, it seems, come with most of what they need already inside. It’s good if they come when called, and hopefully they won’t bite you. It’s a big plus if they’ll retrieve. Just get them into birds, lots of birds, and a a good one will be good. Retrievers, in contrast, will be asked to do some things that do not come naturally.

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I have taken a break, or maybe left the coondog world and entered the lab/retriever world.


My pup just turned 16 weeks and is from a long line of titled dogs.


I intend to, and have been training him for shed antlers.


His natural ability and drive is just ridiculous. I can't get over at how hot wired he is. Simple stuff like his attentiveness...he's always watching my hands and looking at me when he wants to know what to do. Weird stuff....like when he was 8 weeks old and geese flocks were still flying over. He'd sit and watch them. He heard all sorts of noises by then and didn't act like that..how's he know what a goose is and that he is bred to retrieve them?! His nose is unbelievable. Incredibly smart.


I don't know what to expect.....he's making me feel real bad about now being a bird/waterfowl hunter.

He swims like an otter and makes water retrieves. He has tries relentlessly to get himself a Robin. He snatches moths out of the air like Noone business.

He's a heck of a little dog....I really expected it to be much harder. He's doing stuff right now that I probably shouldn't be doing with him but I keep building off his training. He aughta be teething soon so I'll take a break from retrieving stuff and hammer more obeisance, manners and steadiness. He heels on a leash nicely. Sits and lays...I didn't formerly place train him but he knows kennel and bed....doesn't make a peep or a mess in the kennel...show him something once and boom He's doing it.

Yes He's 16 weeks...he's not perfect. And he's starting to become a little less obedient when he doesn't want to be...but I can already tell he's not gunna go off the deep end like a lot of dogs do when they hit the "teenage" phase. He WANTS me to tell him he's a good boy.


Really enjoying him. I always loved the pup training aspect of my previous coondogs and house dogs but it's short lived. I have a feeling with him, I'll continue retrieving drills and progress him as far as I can just because it's fun and he enjoys the heck out of it...and so do I.


First and foremost I wanted a best buddy that's a great house dog and I can take with me wherever I go. And he's winning at that too.

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Mauser 06 you are hitting the jackpot. I pick up my female lab pup in mid July. I am excited still about it all if she turns out like the first one I had I'll be rich and if she don't that is the way it is. Old dog training bud told me once sit, stay, come , and heel by 12 weeks or give it to someone who just wants a pet.mb


" Cheapest velocity in the world comes from a long barrel and I sure do like them. MB "
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Good luck with the pup Bob!


I've always looked at the first month(s) and year as being critical. Create good habits early and you have less bad to train out later. Dogs are funny. It's a heck of a lot easier to teach them the "right" way early than it is to do it later when they developed bad habits we don't want.

I don't make formal training time for him. But he gets trained every day.

A lot of having a nice dog is how they are raised and their environment. I spend a lot of time with my dogs...even my coondogs that are "traditionally" outside dogs. I always noticed my dogs behaved a lot different than the rest of the dogs at the competitions and that's a big part of why. I raise em to be my best buddy. They understand body language and tone of voice and they wanna make me happy.

Hopefully I can get him turned into a heck of a shed dog. He hasn't failed to find a scented dummy....just yesterday I threw one in dense waist-chest high swamp grass and sent him in. Under a minute later he came out with it. That was pretty impressive to me...thats what I want a shed dog for....I could have tripped over it and still not have found that one.


At the end of the day, he's my best buddy and it'd be prrreetty hard to fail at that.


We're heading for a swim now.

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Originally Posted by RIO7
Most good hunting dogs just about train themselves, most Labs train their owners, they are wonderful dogs, for family and hunting, I have owned some wonderful Labs all are different but usually are good people dogs and some of them are good or great hunting dogs. Rio7

My experience is similar over 50+ years with Labs. But would modify "most Labs train their owners" to "most Labs and their owners learn to hunt together."


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Originally Posted by WMR
BKinSD’s thread got me to wondering. What do folks expect in a “good” gundog? Retrievers specifically, in this case. I fairly well know what behaviors are important to me, but I’d expect others to have different priorities.

For me, I want a healthy dog, specifically in terms of hips and eyes. I expect good manners on and off lead. In the field, I expect steadiness until released, with decent marking skills and reliable delivery to hand. I expect good handling on blinds out to 75 yards, more or less, depending on the cover. Good hunting and tracking skills in the pheasant field are important to me, though others may not need this. My dogs live in the house, so a calm demeanor is pretty important. The more of these traits I can get through breeding, the less I have to instill through training.

Yes, steadiness, ability to heel on either side, marking and blind handling 150 yards +. I need go too. It can make for a bit of a wilder dog, but that's acceptable as long as they will flat go.

Once we got all these figured out, usually the pheasant hunting skills come natural, with response to whistle and hand signals. My latest yellow figured out pheasants after two drives with pointers. He's actually a way better pheasant dog than he should be.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Nice photo. I'll bet a crippled duck could lead your dog on a merry chase in that water. Once they go ashore, though, the dog always gets 'em.

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Originally Posted by WMR
Nice photo. I'll bet a crippled duck could lead your dog on a merry chase in that water. Once they go ashore, though, the dog always gets 'em.


That's shallow water. He can cruise in those rice fields.

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[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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WMR, you did a better job of distilling your thoughts into words. So pardon my ramblings.

We don't hunt waterfowl so my expectations are different. Nobody would probably like mine for themselves but then again IDC because what I do works for me and I don't do it just because the books said so. I find many people want a "manual" for a dog...works about like manuals for child raising. They're wonderful individuals just like we are in that respect. Good days/bad days, successes and failures all as we experience them.

Being a pheasant hunter, I don't want steadiness to flush or shot at all. I want them moving toward the flying bird from the flush/shot whichever is appropriate depending on whether flushing or blocking. Birds/time/energy all is unnecessarily lost in my style of hunting if the dog is at a 30 yard disadvantage. I'm in fields where there might be 500-800-1000 wild birds at any given time. You might not be so your needs are different.

I expect them to "come around" when getting out too far in the field. Some dogs learn range easier than others. I have a dog now which has developed an uncanny sense of "too far." Its like he knows shotgun range intuitively, although I know its because I correct him and call him to "come around"

Past that I do spend alot of time teaching quartering in the field because its important. I expect them to hunt with and for me, and not themselves. They know the difference and so do I. The quartering work seems to accomplish that. They also associate hunting and flushing with that work. It helps that we have lots of places to work on it as young dogs with live birds present.

Retrieving comes naturally for them, we do some work in the yard with bumpers so they learn "Heel" and "out." I use "out" for "Drop it" or "leave it" as one word beats using two for them.

They have to figure out live/crippled birds on their own. I have a dog now that will bring back birds firmly but gently no matter what and I have one that won't tolerate spurs and beaks at all. When she was little she wouldn't bring live birds back; now that she's older anything alive generally simply gets the Crunch of Destiny. I don't care about that. I don't like spurs and beaks in my vest against my back either. I'm stuck with her and she's stuck with me, and if you read my post from mid-December when I thought she was lost in the darkness, wind and deep grass, then you'll why. They do [bleep] for me that I won't do. So I'll put up with that.

They're in the kennel most days when its fit to be outside, otherwise and at night, they are in the house, and with me, and rarely kenneled unless all of us are out of town which happens but not alot.

Last edited by BKinSD; 06/06/23.

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[img]https://i.imgur.com/jblv0Qs.mp4[/img]

The Flash helping block and being told "out." Turn the sound on.

Last edited by BKinSD; 06/06/23.

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Originally Posted by TimberRunner
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Little slice of duck hunting heaven, right there.

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Originally Posted by BKinSD
WMR, you did a better job of distilling your thoughts into words. So pardon my ramblings.

We don't hunt waterfowl so my expectations are different. Nobody would probably like mine for themselves but then again IDC because what I do works for me and I don't do it just because the books said so. I find many people want a "manual" for a dog...works about like manuals for child raising. They're wonderful individuals just like we are in that respect. Good days/bad days, successes and failures all as we experience them.

Being a pheasant hunter, I don't want steadiness to flush or shot at all. I want them moving toward the flying bird from the flush/shot whichever is appropriate depending on whether flushing or blocking. Birds/time/energy all is unnecessarily lost in my style of hunting if the dog is at a 30 yard disadvantage. I'm in fields where there might be 500-800-1000 wild birds at any given time. You might not be so your needs are different.

I expect them to "come around" when getting out too far in the field. Some dogs learn range easier than others. I have a dog now which has developed an uncanny sense of "too far." Its like he knows shotgun range intuitively, although I know its because I correct him and call him to "come around"

Past that I do spend alot of time teaching quartering in the field because its important. I expect them to hunt with and for me, and not themselves. They know the difference and so do I. The quartering work seems to accomplish that. They also associate hunting and flushing with that work. It helps that we have lots of places to work on it as young dogs with live birds present.

Retrieving comes naturally for them, we do some work in the yard with bumpers so they learn "Heel" and "out." I use "out" for "Drop it" or "leave it" as one word beats using two for them.

They have to figure out live/crippled birds on their own. I have a dog now that will bring back birds firmly but gently no matter what and I have one that won't tolerate spurs and beaks at all. When she was little she wouldn't bring live birds back; now that she's older anything alive generally simply gets the Crunch of Destiny. I don't care about that. I don't like spurs and beaks in my vest against my back either. I'm stuck with her and she's stuck with me, and if you read my post from mid-December when I thought she was lost in the darkness, wind and deep grass, then you'll why. They do [bleep] for me that I won't do. So I'll put up with that.

They're in the kennel most days when its fit to be outside, otherwise and at night, they are in the house, and with me, and rarely kenneled unless all of us are out of town which happens but not alot.

Each of my dogs has had at least one SD pheasant trip, other than the new pup. I’ll probably make sure she gets a few trips out there. This little girl, Ruby, is from Duckhill Kennels in TN. At a year of age, I thought she wasn’t gonna be any good. She must have read my mind because she’s come on strong in the 6 months since then. I predict a good future for the two of us. Wild pheasants are the best. So are ducks, I think. I guess I’m a confused man. 🤔

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I think that is a great idea, all dogs should get to come here sometime.

I thought Lola was going to be a washout also. I could not for the life of me figure out why some birds were retrieved, and some were not, despite being found. Finally one cold winter day, I was working some cattails along the lake at PNF, along with Lola. Flash had been put up for the day. The lake of course was frozen and instead of grassing birds, I iced them. They hit the ice. One was dead as a wedge. She nosed it over, to check for signs of life as I later figured out, and grabbed it and brought it right over. The second was flapping as dead birds often do before they learn of their own demise. And that bird, well she had little interest in picking it up. For understandable reasons. Until the birds hit ice I was never really able to see what was going on.

It took her a longer time to figure it out in her own mind. Is she a great dog in the field? No I wouldn't say. Certainly not yet anyway. She's a good dog who makes few mistakes. She does make steady progress however. And she's had some great successes. I'm sure a better trainer would be welcome as well, but we're stuck together.


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