Old Dog, New Tricks?

I am a dedicated rough shooter and proud owner of a really gifted male Vizsla, Bruce, who is now 3 years old.

Bruce is very good, sometimes even excellent in his hunt and point duties including both fur and feather, a passionate retriever as well, in terms of seeking and ‘bringing back’ any quarry dead or alive.

Yet, due to non effective training in his early age, he won’t comply in starting retrieve on command and he won’t retrieve to hand, let alone present game.

When back near me he would rather keep playing with ‘His’ trophy only to let it down, usually in some ‘safe’ distance, following my command which at times needs to be quite ‘severe’.

The one thing he does well by all means is to trust me and follow my command for a blind retrieve. After all, this is pretty mach the case with us two, since the woody landscapes where we usually hunt won’t allow for an effective marking.

Do you think I have any chance to teach this ‘old dog new tricks’?. Might it be possible to have any chance if I started training him afresh, using possibly new words and signs as commands?

I would much appreciate your opinion and any advice on this.

Our Answer.
Yes, I think you have every chance to get Bruce retrieving well, especially if you go back to basics on the recall and retrieve.

Do you use a whistle? If not, I would recommend training him up with a whistle instead of commands, otherwise I would retrain during the out-of-season period using your current commands.

My plan would be:-
With the dog on a lead
1. Walk to heel, without pulling on the lead. Use lots of praise, but don’t be too severe. The dog has to know that you have control, but that you are a friend.
2. Once he is walking, teach the sit – While you walk the dog at heel, stop walking and at the same time give your sit command and gently encourage the dog to sit. Plenty of praise when he does it.
3. Once he is sitting, start taking a step away, if he gets up, go back and make him sit.
4. Now stand in front of him, and call him, (just a step or two because he is on the lead) and encourage him to sit in front of you, with a tickle under the chin to get his head up.

When you are happy that he will always obey on the lead, go through the same routine but off the lead. When you do the recall, moving backwards can encourage the dog to come closer, because he wants to be with you quickly, and when you stop he is in a great position to present his retrieve.

I wish you every joy with your Vizla, and look forward to hearing how you get on.

Your Answer? (Wanted!)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.