We've been working with Oliver every night that the weather permits in his duck retrieving training. Lately, it's been cold, but a warm spell last week melted all our snow so the field is pretty easy to walk.
We gave him an early Christmas present to aid with his training. It's a very lifelike duck decoy meant for training retrievers. We found it at Cabella's along with a whole array of dog training items, how-to videos and scent aids.
There are many different species of waterfowl dummies available including a true-to-weight Canada Goose. I would be very interested to see how any dog would handle a bird that large. Which reiterates what I already know...dogs are amazing!
We chose the Mallard variety which was quite a bit heavier and larger in circumference than the denim dummy we've been using with his training.
We also purchased a waterfowl scent stick which looks like a stick of deodorant and smells like...like...I don't even know what! Let's just say...it's strong and sort of animal like. As the directions say you are supposed to rub it on the training dummy and it's supposed to be saliva and water resistant.
Oliver was thoroughly curious about this new smell, and buried his nose in the dummy for about 10 minutes.
He took to the new decoy very well, though the added weight took a little adjustment to carry it just right in his mouth. I love watching him problem solve, and he has such a gentle way about him.
I think the scent stick is really helping him locate the dummy on the field. Sometimes he falls about 5 feet short of where the duck landed. I noticed this time he would slow at that 5 foot mark, then put is nose to the ground and finish locating it that way.
According to the training manuals, the next step is for him to get used to the sensation of feathers being in his mouth, while suppressing the urge to chew and tear them off.
I honestly don't see this as a problem for Oliver. When he gets on the field, he's so focused on the retrieval that he doesn't really take the time to analyze the dummy.