Training The Pass By Bird
An essential skill for a well trained retriever is the "No Bird" command. This is what many call the "Pass By/Over bird" or the "Poison Bird". In essence this is having the ability to direct your hunting buddy to tackle a multiple retrieve in the order YOU decide and not the closest first.
This is important because if you clip a glider or a swimmer and it gets time to put more distance between him and your hand the odds of loosing him increase dramatically.
This skill is one that almost always seperates a trained retrieve from a very well trained retrieving champ. My advise, take the time to train this skill.
Your dog wants to get that bird. He lives for this. his instinct is to get the first one he can get to.
You can, threw systematically stepping of behaviors, pretty quickly teach him to take the line YOU direct and not the one he decides.
First thing is to be solid on retrieving skills, fetch, return to sit, solid till released, and "no". My advise, don't put an e-collar on your dog until he is solid on this skill in three environments.
I start with very short pitched retrieves in front on the dog. At sit, I toss a bumper 20 yards in front and then a second bumper quickly at 10 yards at a 45 degree angle from the longer throw. My dog will focus on the second bumper. I command, "No bird" and pull his collar toward my knee and use my left hand to motion to the longer bumper (he is sitting on my left side). I may repeat this several times. Then I release for the retrieve with his name, "Chase". If he moves toward the short bumper I say "no" and call back to heal. And repeat. After one or two re-orientations, he will go for the long retrieve (his reward).
Next I increase the distance with hand throws until he is pretty good at recognizing the "Dead Bird" command and taking the line to the long retrieve.
Next step is the use of a launcher to get much more distance. After launching two dummies at a 60 degree angle, I will alternate 1st or 2nd launch for the retrieve.
Your dog will learned fast that he gets "his reward" fastest by taking "your line".
Next I use dead birds thrown for him repeating the first step with the bumpers. Feathers get him pretty excited and expect him to regress a little.
The last stage is in the field on a real hunt with a double. Again, expect him to be overly excited and forget about you giving the line.
On these first few hunts tell your hunting buddies to also settle down and let you train your retriever when you get a double down. Taking 5 minutes to reinforce that YOU determine the line and order of the retrieve now will make it so much easier for the next 12 years
Having a relationship with your retriever were you can work as a team and that you get to be the player/coach will both reduce the loss of cripples and give you a swell of pride. Take the time, have fun, and do it right!
Until I see you in the field, be safe, be good, and BE LUCKY!