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Why does my sprocker refuse to retrieve?

A reader has a sprocker with a problem. What does Paul Rawlings think is the answer?

sprocker working dog

Q: I have a two-year old sprocker that stops and hunts on command, stays very close and is highly attentive. However in the field she refuses to retrieve which is both embarassing and exasperating as she is otherwise a very hardworking dog. What can I do about it? Is there still time to train her or is it too late? 

A:The first desire for any keen hunting dog is to find live game and in the wild it would be to satisfy hunger.

Obviously, with domestication and training that inherent wish is controlled as you are feeding your dog regularly.

Sprocker refuses to retrieve – retraining

However, the desire to eat is also the reason why a dog retrieves game to take back to its pack. Not making sure the retrieving instinct was nurtured to the highest degree in training before introducing steadiness to live game is probably why you are now experiencing a problem.

Your bitch must be taught to retrieve any object you wish on command. At present, if she wants to, she can get away with being disobedient.

You need to change this so that the object in her mouth is the only way in which she can earn praise. Teach her to hold something in her mouth and reward her for it.

Once she is grabbing consistently for one object, then begin the process again with another until you are using cold game and finally fresh.

On no account continue her hunting until the problem has been cured. It may take weeks but it will be worth your patience in the end.

Sprockers – at a glance

  • Sprockers have masses of energy and need to be kept busy
  • They are intelligent dogs and easy to train – but keep training consistent. They like to know what their owners want from them
  • Sprockers need to know who is the ‘alpha’ in the household – and will look to that individual for direction.