I feel like I'm not doing the best for my dog(13 Posts)
Some advice would be really helpful. I have a lovely 6mth old black lab from very good working stock (all the rest of his litter went for gun dogs/shooting). He is fab, house trained, sit, stay, recall, fetches dummies perfectly, turns on a sixpence to the whistle.
But....I feel like its not enough for him to be a 'family' dog. He is very high energy (walked 2x a day for an hr each time through the woods with a swim in the middle). But an hr after getting home he is going nuts running circles round the house? I have a big garden with a 10m line and if I put him out there he will just track back and forth and dig the grass up. He also goes to training one a week, we were moved straight up after one class from puppies to advanced because he is just really clever.
I don't feel like he is happy with us. He is really supposed to be out tracking/picking up. He caught another pheasant this morning in the woods and brought it back to me (it wasn't dead, just shocked and slightly bitten and another dog walker put it down). This is more and more common, rabbits, pheasants, next door lost 3 chickens to him . He isn't killing them, but instinctively brings them back to me and is so happy with himself!
I don't have time to do trials etc with him and didn't want to, we wanted a family dog. I suppose it's my own fault for taking one from a high bred working family. But I feel like his potential is being wasted and he is frustrated by not being worked.
Any thoughts? Advice?
I don't know about him being frustrated, as I've never had a working dog as such. I do have 3 different terriers who do have endless energy and could probably do with just being walked continuously for the entire day.
I don't know much about what a gun dog would do or whatever, but I would think that having a loving family would mean a lot to him. I know my dogs are really loyal and loving and being adored by us seems to be appreciated by them. He won't be hyper forever and the time will come where I would think being a family dog over a working dog will see him better looked after.
I would focus on trying to find inventive ways to wear him out. Can you train him to retrieve certain things you hide around the garden each day. Or pay someone to walk him more so that he's getting that extra exercise.
He is still very young and will calm down over time, the puppy phase is always a bit manic.
my friend has a black lab from working lines. She said he was nuts as a pup for around 18 mths and really high maintenance. at the time she lived on a terraced house with three young children. Now he is 6 and he is the most chilled, loving, docile family dog you can imagine. I bet your dog loves you all and doesn't crave any more than you are giving him
Ruby's idea about playing more retrieving games sounds good.
A lot of my clients (dogwalking) have gone through gun dog training even though they don't intend to shoot over the dog, just so the dog will have the fun of it. One of the yellow labs often enters gun-dog scurries and does very well, even though her owner has never used a shot gun and never intends to.
They do settle.. eventually!
have you got a local flyball club near you as this would use some of his energy and its retreiving the ball when it flys out of the cannon or an agility club labs are high energy but they do settle down eventually
I've got 2 springers. The oldest was 8 weeks when I got her and she was a complete whirlwind. At times I could have given her away as she was hyperactive all the time! She was also very bright and learnt quickly. Kong toys are good as they are sturdy, and the ones you stuff can provide some calm activity. I'd also look at Petstages Orka toys for te same sort of calmer toy interactions.
I don't think exercise is the issue and at 6 months I think your dog is too young for agility or fly ball. Someone once told me you couldn't wear them out, you just make them fitter!
It will get better. Gun dogs are frustrating and rewarding in equal measures as puppies, but the balance gradually shifts.
Remember: labs are born half trained, but springers die half trained!
Should also say my dogs are 8 and 4 and sleep most the day, unless there's food about and then act like nutters when they're on walks. Perfect!
Mine was like this, I used to hide her toys round the house, or in the garden and say "find it" in a sort of excited voice, and she would go frantic looking for it. It sort of kept her mind active. She was a pub dog, and used to keep the customers entertained by catching flying beer mats mid air and retrieving them without a dent. Once, my Dad was fishing and he lost his float in the sea and she retrieved that without a scratch on it. I also used to take a tennis racket and ball out on the walk and if possible belt it into a field over a hedge so that she couldn't see it land, then the "find it" and she would work the field until she found it. She loved doing that.
Do you use a clicker at all? If not I highly recommend you do. And then get teaching him stuff. Mental stimulation wears them out far more than physical ( as someone's already said, often they get fitter and fitter and just need more and more! ) and 15 minutes learning a new behaviour/trick can often wipe them out for hours
The only limit to what they can learn to do ( providing they're physically capable) is your imagination. Teach him useful stuff like picking up washing/ shutting doors/ finding family members by name, or " pointless but amusing" things like roll over, play dead etc. The great thing about the clicker is it makes them really think which is what knackers them.
Being loopy after a walk is common. They've still got adrenalin pumping away.
I have a very active Labrador too. (although she is snoring next to me on the sofa at the moment )
I find scattering treats and part of her dry food in the garden keeps her very occupied and have also used treat dispensing toys indoors - kongs and the like.
Nina ottoson has some interesting and challenging games for clever dogs.
I find that if she is mentally stimulated she is easier to manage the rest of the time!
My girl is 2.6 now and is a lot better indoors.
A brown flash of fur in the woods still though!
Play hide and seek games at home?
Get him to fetch you your keys/phone when it rings/close doors?
Really feel for you, my Lab x is quite 'worky' and does need mental stimulation.
What food is he fed on btw?
Oh thanks everyone!! Some good ideas here.
He loves finding a blind dummy (so ill sit/wait him and go off into the woods, then come back and send him) but he can do that for half an hr, then follows me around nudging at my leg to play more! We have kongs but he isn't very interested in them (even filled with peanut butter!)
He is fed on a working dog food, beta something?
I need to get clever with him I think!
Where do you live? I have a Springer and do working trials training with him. I don't compete or have any intention to, we just do it for fun. If you are near where I go I could give you the contact details. I don't do it on a regular basis just as and when I can, but he loves it and the trainers are really accommodating and encouraging.
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