The Labrador Shooting Dog, Mike Gould


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By scdjw75 - 10/9/2013 4:07:04 PM
I've been trolling around the site for a while picking up some information before I get my Lab.  I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself and ask those more experienced than I to take a look at my plans and help me fill in any gaps that may have been overlooked.

I've decided on a British Lab, most likely from Five Oaks Kennels.  I spoke with Jim Sawyers almost a year ago and he went through his process and answered my questions.  He does provide health screenings on all his dogs to include eyes, hips, and EIC.  The cost is inline with what I'm able to afford and Tenn. is within driving distance from SC.  I'm not willing to ship a puppy mainly due to the added cost and not being able to pick out the pup myself in person.  Plus I would imagine it may be a bit traumatic for the puppy as well.  I've been around both British and American Labs.  I've seen hyper dogs as well as a calm laid back demeanor from both lines.  I believe it is more a result of socialization and training of the young dog once you get into quality bloodlines and a reputable breeder.

I have read The Labrador Shooting Dog by Mike Gould and many of his methods seem to make sense.  The use of positive reinforcement and training for confidence is the path I want to take with my dog.  It is very important to me that I train my dog myself.  I want to make that bond and put in the work and see us both succeed.  I have never attempted any training other than general obedience with my previous dogs.  Gould does use FF in his training methods and I may seek additional advice or look to a professional when the time comes.  I think that is a decision I will make down the road.  I do not want to involve the use of an E-collar, get ready it's about to get rocky.  Let me be clear, I am not against the use of E-collars in the hands of a skilled trainer.  I am also not against anyone that wants to train their dog without the use of force all together.  I believe we all have our own idea of what we want from our dog and how we want to reach that goal.  My problem is I am not skilled and I feel there is a potential for me to do more harm than good.  My goal is to have a companion first and gun dog second.  We will never compete and I will primarily be hunting ducks from a boat / blind in addition to working dove fields. 

My concerns are that this system or method of training may be lacking in an area that I am not aware of.  I realize that you shouldn't jump from system to system when training a dog, however is anyone familiar with Mike Gould or know of another trainer that would compliment this style?  I've read The Wild Rose Way, I'm not a fan, let's leave it at that.  Also if anyone has another suggestion on a breeder for British Labs please let me know and include why you are recommending them.  Please keep in mind I will need to drive from Columbia, SC.  Max one way of about 10 hours.

Thank you for taking the time to look this over.

Best,

Demian
By Texas-Kayak-Qwack-Smacker - 10/9/2013 10:57:53 PM

From one hunter to another, I hope this helps. I have trained two dogs myself. Both have been wonerful family companions and great dogs to have in the field. A good dog is a joy to have in the blind but few things can ruin a hunt quicker than an udisciplined retreiver. Below I will address each paragraph with honest feedback based upon my experiences in training my dogs.


"I've decided on a British Lab, most likely from Five Oaks Kennels.  I spoke with Jim Sawyers almost a year ago and he went through his process and answered my questions.  He does provide health screenings on all his dogs to include eyes, hips, and EIC.  The cost is inline with what I'm able to afford and Tenn. is within driving distance from SC.  I'm not willing to ship a puppy mainly due to the added cost and not being able to pick out the pup myself in person.  Plus I would imagine it may be a bit traumatic for the puppy as well.  I've been around both British and American Labs.  I've seen hyper dogs as well as a calm laid back demeanor from both lines.  I believe it is more a result of socialization and training of the young dog once you get into quality bloodlines and a reputable breeder."

    1. Unless I'm mistaken, the only notable difference between "Brittish Labs" and Labradors is the size. Brits tend to be a bit shorter and lighter. Neither will display a superior termperment or intensity, as this differs by individual dog rather than what "strain" of Lab it is. In fact, I don't believe that the AKC or any other governing body recognizes anything other than a Labroador. They are considered the same breed.
    2. Use a reputable breeder and get to know him. Communicate with him as often as possible. Let him know who  you are and what you are about and he may be able to help you pick a pup that suites your style. If you are laid back and easy going, a high energy pup will only annoy you. If you are a very energetic person, a laid  back pup may come off as lazy. You need to fid a pup that suits what you expect out of him.
    3. Both laid back and energetic dogs can and do make great gun dogs. You want one that you can develop a connection with.



"I have read The Labrador Shooting Dog by Mike Gould and many of his methods seem to make sense.  The use of positive reinforcement and training for confidence is the path I want to take with my dog.  It is very important to me that I train my dog myself.  I want to make that bond and put in the work and see us both succeed.  I have never attempted any training other than general obedience with my previous dogs.  Gould does use FF in his training methods and I may seek additional advice or look to a professional when the time comes.  I think that is a decision I will make down the road.  I do not want to involve the use of an E-collar, get ready it's about to get rocky.  Let me be clear, I am not against the use of E-collars in the hands of a skilled trainer.  I am also not against anyone that wants to train their dog without the use of force all together.  I believe we all have our own idea of what we want from our dog and how we want to reach that goal.  My problem is I am not skilled and I feel there is a potential for me to do more harm than good.  My goal is to have a companion first and gun dog second.  We will never compete and I will primarily be hunting ducks from a boat / blind in addition to working dove fields."

  1. I am not familiar with Mike Gould or his methods, so I can't comment on those.
  2. Careful about defining what you want for your dog. Much like children, what you want for them and what they need are often not the same thing.
  3. I applaud you for wanting to train your dog yourself. Doing so creates a great bond between dog and owner and ensures that the dog knows exactly where he belongs and what's expected of him. That said, owning one of these dogs is a 10-15 year commitment, so be ready. It means a lot of early mornings and time after work. Most programs require 30 minutes of work in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. The dog can only stay focused for about that long. This goes on for 6 months to a year before the dog is truely ready. It never goes as smoothly as you think it should either. I actually had to go swimming with my second pup every day for a month to teach him to swim.
  4. Force Fetch is the cornerstone of nearly every plan out there. It isn't as rough or as harsh as it sounds, but it is essential, as it acclimates the dog to responding to a negative stimulus (which you absolutely will have to use from time to time). I did my own FF training for my dogs. They have never seen a professional.
  5. I highly encourage you to rethink the e-collar. I use one to train but rarely to hunt. The proper use of an e-collaris not difficult. If you can use a leash, you can use an e-collar. You simply have to educate yourself. No offense, but if you can't figure out how to use one properly, you don't need to  be training dogs. Not to say that it can't be done without it, but it's a lot harder. For instance, once the dog realizes that you can't correct him  when he's off leash an out of arm's reach, he'll almost always make a game of running from you when you are frustrated. An e-collar helps nip this in the bud. It's nota forever tool, it's an as needed tool.
  6. When training different hunting arrangement (i.e, a boat) there is no substitute for experience. This means that it is critical for you to focus on the dog rather than the hunting until he get's it right. This requires you to leave the gun at home for a bit. You'll thank me later.
  7. There  are a lot of different pros and programs out there and all will tell you that one or another it the best. In truth, there are dozens that work. A few are really great. I like Mike Lardy in particular, but there are plenty of others. My advice, pick one and learn in backward and forward BEFORE you get your pup. Training starts the moment you pick him up, so it's vital that you understand what the nextyear is going to look like. Every interaction you have with a pup will affect how he responds in the future. Too many retreives to early and you get a dog that won't sit still. Too little socialization and other dogs  become more important that sitting still and taking commands. Books are good for the knowledge piece, but a video will help you develop the cadence and tone of your commands. Consistant commands are absolutely key.
  8. You may consider getting involved in your local AKC retreiver club. Volunteering to work on a hunt test will give you the opportunityto see some great (and not so great) dogs and handlers. It will also give you the opportunity to rub elbows with people that have a lot of experience doing this. They will be your best source of reliable and sound information. You can probably even talk them into letting you take some of the "formerly live" birds for training. That's how I got mine.

All in all, there is no better companion  than a well trained and bonded gun dog. Dutch (in the pic left) is a 3 year old 75 lb male Lab. I started hunting him at 7 months old. He's hunted 3 seasons now andhas made hundreds of retreives, often bringing back birds we thought we'd lost for sure. He's a loyal, obedient, and loving member of our family. He lives indoors with us and he's great around our daughter. I hope that you experience all the joy that I have in this process. There is truely nothing else like it. That said, it'sa heck of a commitment. Much like marriage, you get out what you put in and as long as you treat it as an "until death do us part" commitment, you'll do fine.

I have included some links for you to look into.

This is the material that I used. It may not be the hot new program or the best format, but it has worked well for me.
http://www.ybsmedia.com/index.php/mike-lardy/training-with-mike-lardy-v-i

Do yourself a big favor and find your local club.
http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/index.cfm?action=perf&display=on

By scdjw75 - 10/10/2013 12:39:18 AM
Scott, thank you very much for your post.  When I made the remark regarding temperament it was mainly due to so many of the similar posts I have read where it gets off topic quickly and turns into an American vs British debate and that's not what I wanted to happen here. Also, I agree there is only one recognized Labrador. I think either would make a fine gun dog, i just prefer the build of the British more.

I fully intend on enlisting the help of the breeder when I pick out my pup. He will be my best resource at that point because no one has spent more time with the litter than them.  Also, I have spent a lot of time reading and researching the Internets various forums and sites to gain as much information as I can over the past year and a half.  My last dog, Able, passed away nearly 3 years ago and she is still greatly missed by our family.  Although we have wanted another dog, my wife and I decided that we would not be able to commit to a new puppy for some time.  It is important to both of us that we do not bring a new pup into our home until we are able to properly care, train, and socialize our new family member.  I guess I figured since I can't own one I could read and educate myself on what I am interested in.

As I read my initial post when I was checking in to see if anyone had left a comment I began to think about some of the things I had listed.  I understand the importance of the use of a collar, when done correctly, and taking into account all the hours spent training the dog up to the point where a collar would be used should give me the confidence and experience to go to the next level. Not to mention that if I am doing my part correctly I should have a pretty damn good read on my dogs body language.  

I have checked into my local retriever club and contacted a friend who is a member.  Unfortunately he has not been very active within the club and their website seems very out of date.  That said maybe they are just out doing what needs to be done.  There are some hunt tests coming up in December and I am going to try and make it out to see the dogs and hopefully meet some new people.

I'm hoping to have my new pup sometime around the spring or summer of 2014.  I'd like that time frame with the warm weather and water to introduce the pup to all of his new surroundings.  Many thanks again for taking the time to help me out, it is very much appreciated.  

Best,

Demian