Natural Retrieve & what to do about my dog picking up nasty dead stuff

FetchingNastyDeadStuff                           Photo: Unknown – one of those that circulates around the email universe. This dog is not the one described below, but fit the blog article well.


  What should you do when your dog retrieves some nasty dead thing? The answer, praise them. This may sound weird, but here are my thoughts. 

I have a Brittany I am training on a long-term basis (> 1 year). The dog has been the carrion finding-est dog I have ever seen. If there is anything dead in the field when we are out for our runs, she will find it. She likes to parade around with the stinkiest things, then go sit under a bush and work on them. Over the last year, I have resisted the urge to scold her for it and take them away. Rather, I would praise her for retrieving and call her to me. Based on a solid foundation for the come command, she would come, but would hold her head away from me and get ready to resist. I praise her for coming, give her a pat and send her on her way with her treasure (usually a dead jackrabbit part, or deer leg). Then I would resume our run at a fast pace and she would usually drop the item after she realizes it is slowing her down and she is falling behind.

Over time, I started to gently take things out of her mouth then give them immediately back and let her have them to run off with. Now, this dog does two things I like: First, she retrieves all game she finds in the field, whether or not it is directly shot in front of her. Second, she retrieves directly to hand without balking.

After she is 18 months or so, I will probably still take her through the trained retrieve (force fetch) to solidify her retrieve, but for now, she has developed a wonderful natural retrieve. I am certain that if I would have scolded her for picking up carrion and ripped stuff away from her that she wouldn’t trust me and wouldn’t have the natural retrieve that she now displays so proudly. I also regularly get her parasite medication and don’t let her lick my face. (Eeew)

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