Q: I am trying to introduce my Labrador to cold game but when he picks up the retrieve he shakes and plays about with it before bringing it to hand. Is there any way I can stop him doing this, or is it all a waste of time?
A: You do not say how old your Labrador is, but it sounds to me as if it might be a bit too young yet to be introduced to game. This dog is still at the playful stage so you need to put cold game aside and instead go back to using dummies wrapped with feather or rabbit fur for a while longer.
What you need to remember is that dogs mature and reach varying stages in their training at different ages so it will not do your Lab any harm to continue at a slower pace.
An experienced trainer or handler instinctively knows when his dog needs to go to the next stage of training, and this is particularly true of making the important transition from dummies to cold game then, finally, warm game.
Shaking of the sort you describe is not uncommon with a young dog and they usually grow out of it as they gain experience.
One useful aid worth trying is a dummy with a hinged head and tail which, when shaken, delivers a gentle tap to the dog’s head. Unless your dog is some sort of masochist it will soon get the message!