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My dog is five, and we are still working on keeping him inside a canoe.
"There is water! I can drink it! Hey, do both sides taste the same? Yes! I can swim in that! MUST SWIM! SWIM!!!!" and it's a squirmy 75 pound dog that wants nothing more than to get in the water.

I don't know how to hunt ducks, although I am starting to see how we might jump mallards from the ground. No way my dog is going to sit still for longer than 30 seconds.. he's all go and no slow.

He's slowing down as he ages, so maybe when he's 8 or nine years old... but then again... our next step is grouse. Ducks are beyond me, I think. Not even talking about geese!
It's something called obedience that you need to instill in your dog so it becomes a responsible passenger in a boat, canoe, kayak, truck, car, etc. I learned that decades ago with my first labs then the various pointing dogs, including setters and Pointers, as well as mutts that came along later. Teach the dog to sit or lay down properly - that they do so until YOU release them from the command, and not when they want to release themselves. It works in many other situations too, besides riding in a conveyance of some sort. It is really a simple and basic step in the obedience continuum.
 

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Place. My guys are on a place board by 6 months. Or small rug in the house which is their place.

Even though I have trained and been owned by a lot of dogs over the years I still take them to puppy classes then obedience classes. Even gone to Rally after obedience I and II with one dog, he loved it. I've always learned and picked up something in every class I have attended. Dogs and people are never too old to learn something new.

Over the last half dozen years or so they have started teaching Place as an obedience command. My first thought when they started teaching it was how cool is that?! That right there is a hunting dog command, I don't care who you are.
My wife was using "Place" with her Schutzhunds when I met her 30 years ago but she morphed it into remaining in place however the dog wished. It could stand, sit, lay down or any combination as long as it stayed there. She started with the dog going to a particular spot but it would get confused if in a different location. It was hard for the dog to jump onto its Ottoman in the corner when they were at a hotel 1000 miles away.

I have no need for"Place" (or "Stay" for that matter) as I train my dogs to hold Whoa/Sit/Lay Down until released. It is always a bit humorous to see a newer handler add "Stay" to a command where it should not be needed. The chagrined look on their face when it is pointed out to them is priceless as it is the reflection of how we looked when the same realization dawned on us. The retriever people I do water work with are far less gentle in this but they are thicker skinned at least. They are a great group but a far less genteel than the pointer crowd.

My wife takes all our puppies to the various obedience classes. I think it is to see the other puppies and kibitz with the owners but I like it as the pups get even more socialization with other pups, people, and places as well as riding in the car. That really helps in the prevention of car sickness. The only thing if don't like about it is the increased potential of disease but that is what vaccines are for and a little luck I guess. Of dozens of dogs over the years, I've only had one catch a form of kennel cough that is not covered by the vaccine. Fortunately, it was a mild case and responded well to treatment. And the other dogs did not come down with it either. That is where the luck part came in.


A well trained dog is a pleasure to hunt over/with and there a lot of ways to get there. It's why I train with various clubs and people as you are correct, learning never ends.
 

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That sounds great, and maybe the best trainer can train a pit bull to retrieve pheasants, but I could not. I believe some dogs have natural talents and natural proclivities. This Labrador- he has an overpowering desire to go in the water. Yeah, he's got a solid "stay." and "place". Just not in the close presence of a pheasant or a chance to go swimming. We're good with that. It's a partnership.

It didn't take much to train him to have no interest in rabbits or squirrels, but I sure don't want to spoil his desire to swim. that's a skill we use as we hunt creek beds and he's swum across the creek quite a few times to complete a retrieve, and a couple times to pheasants that went ker-plunk! And he is a murder-missle in insane brush after his bird, I don't want to lose that.
That you are satisfied is all that matters but, for future reference and for those who read this and wish to correct this trait, it is not difficult. Unless one takes a 2x4 and beats the dog into submission it will not decrease its drive in any way. If anything, it may increase it. All one needs is a bit of thought to devise a plan, persevere through the ups and downs, and have the patience to see it through. When finished one can have a dog that is a pleasure to take into a boat or will stay at one's side when sneaking up on some ducks or will wait for you to catch up when it gets out of range on a runner.
 

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Sorry, I forgot to mention anything about bumpers.

I use or have used anything commercially available along with frozen birds, homemade bucks, balls of various sizes, and whatever else strikes my fancy. My favorites are the Dead Fowl goose dummies (the dogs really strut when bringing them back), canvas bumpers in various sizes, both canvas and plastic dummies for the launcher (plastic launches further so it takes fewer to wear the dogs out), and a larger than normal tennis ball I use to teach running a line. These latter fit better in the bird launchers which toss them higher than canvas bumpers giving the dogs a better visual cue.

I don't use frozen birds very often but I do use them as I run my dogs in hunt tests. The birds used can get pretty ragged and some dogs will be reluctant and sometimes even refuse to bring back a bird that may be rather bedraggled. One might be able to contest the bird and get a second try but I do not trust my luck.
 

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Sigh. Well... this is a new thing for ME to learn. I am on it, soon as the water gets warm enough for ME to get all wet!
Why wait?

Start with a kids sled on the driveway, parking lot, or other solid surface. Or you can use a training table which will get the dog used to being off the ground. That is the crucial step. Have the dog step in and then command it to sit, lay down, or whatever you want it to do. Make it remain for a few seconds at first then work up in time. When it is doing this well, move the sled into the yard or where there is a smooth surface of snow. Less than knee deep is preferred and I like a couple inches over the ankle as it gives some instability but not too much and it doesn't slip over the boot tops and get my feet wet and cold.

Have the dog hop into the sled. It will probably want to jump out as the sled will tilt due to the snow but rightened the sled and keep trying. You may have to grab the collar to help steady the dog but keep at it until he realizes he won't get hurt and doing so makes you happy. The first time he doesn't immediately try jumping out is a good time to stop for the first attempt. As he becomes comfortable jumping in and out of the sled, extend the relit ions and duration of being in the sled.

When this becomes easy for the dog, go back to the hard surface and add in moving the sled. This will require two people with the puller being able to start the sled moving without tugging.Go slow and work up from small successes. A buddy uses aRadio Flyer wagon but I haven't found one cheap enough yet.

After the dog is comfortable with a moving sled, go back and use your canoe on land. This should go quick as it isn't much different than what has already happened. I might even skip the sled for the canoe but they can be harder to move on snow as pulling them on a hard surface can damage them.

Before moving to open water you will need to get the dog under your control. That is basic obedience. Put him on a lead, put him on heel, and walk him toward the water. I'm betting the dog will break for a frozen lake but, if not, wait until there is some open water. When he breaks, draw him up short and make him. Hold his head up with the lead or by the collar and push his butt down with the other hand if necessary. When he is sitting, praise him, release him, put him at heel, and walk away. Repeat until he gets to the point he sits when commanded. This may take a while as he has had 5 years of being the boss. You will have to undo that and instill that you are the boss which is a lot harder with an adult dog.

When he sits reliably, walk closer to the water and repeat whenever he be begins to break. Don't let him in the water until he remains on heel and sits at the water's edge. When he does this correctly, take him off lead, release him from sit, and let him swim. I personally would work on the dog sitting on the edge off leash until released but it's your call.

At this point you can introduce the canoe in the water. Stay in the shallows where it is easier to control. Have the dog jump in and out of the canoe as well as sitting or laying down. Tow the dog and canoe in the shallows in the shallows until the dog is comfortable staying in the canoe. Then hop in and do short jaunts with the dog building up in time.

I did this with a 3+ year old Pointer and he became my best boating companion. It took about 2 months of 1x week day, twice weekend sessions to get to that point with most of the time being taken up with obedience and adjusting to moving/unstable situations. Getting sedan of a floating boat was a couple sessions.
 

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I have a big red sled just inside the garage door and just tried your suggestion.

Obedience things we have very solid. Getting in his crate or the back of the car, he hops right in. We did space on the ground inside a 2x4 frame in puppy class ages ago.. but

He was NOT going in that sled! I was shocked! This might explain why he loves to swim but won't go inside a little plastic kiddy pool.

I will have my wife help to gently introduce him into the little sled.

Getting him into a canoe is no problem- he will follow us in, happily... but then he wants to move around and check the water on both sides, get out and swim, get back in, repeat.

You really hit the nail on the head here. Whatever it is, the sled makes him very... skeptical! He's not afraid, he's just not gonna step in to it, even with treats on the line. Two people, I bet we can coax him in with food and superior trickery.

Great tip!
Try using a rug or blanket instead of the sled. Roll up the edges to create a rim. When the dog is comfortable stepping on and off that, place it over the sled then repeat. The feel of plastic probably has the dog spooked as it is slippery. To them it is like walking on sheet ice for us and is something to be avoided. The blanket will fool the dog into stepping into the sled but the dog will feel a little uncontrolled which can make it more reliant on you for support. Do this without moving the sled until the dog is comfortable. Then give the sled slow pulls, no tugs, for initial motion.

I do this initial work on land as it is easier for me to handle the dog compared to being in water. Working with a pup is much easier too, an adult dog has its own ideas. Using one's imagination to think out how to create a training schedule to mitigate is probably the most important part of dog training. Most dogs are pretty easy to direct but there is always That One that is a challenge. They are also the one you learn the most from.
 
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