April 17, 2012
Reader Gun Dog Tip: Use Cheetos to Introduce Your Pup to the Water
By Chad Love
We've gone through the first round of reader-supplied gundog tips, and I have to say there was lots of good stuff contained therein, so much so that I had a hard time picking a winner for the inaugural installment. But before I get to the winner let me remind and urge everyone to submit their tips to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win an extremely cool Swedish Fireknife from Mora and Light My Fire.
If you've never owned a scandi-grind Mora before, here's your chance. I promise you'll love it, and this brand new iteration of the famous Mora has a built-in firesteel from Light My Fire. Not only is it Zombie/Mayan Apocalypse/Peak Oil Doom-approved, but it's also brightly-colored so you won’t lose it.
All you have to do is submit your tips to email@example.com. It can be about any aspect of training, ownership or hunting with your dogs. It can be a useful piece of gear (homemade or otherwise), a time-saving piece of advice or a novel or unusual way to teach a concept. In fact, our first winner is a good example of a novel approach to dealing with something all gundog owners go through: introducing a pup to water.
Now there are about five billion different ways to introduce a pup to water, but not all of them will work for all dogs. Some work on the pack principle (let the pup learn by following your other dogs into the water) while others play to pup's retrieving instinct (tossing puppy bumpers into gradually deeper water). I've tried pretty much all of them, and all of them will work. However, I also believe that virtually all dogs, especially retrievers and flushers, will eventually take to water regardless of how you introduce them to it, the timing just varies from dog to dog.
So introduction to water, at least in my experience, isn't as crucial in how you do it, as say, introduction to gunfire, and there's more leeway for mistakes. As an example, one of my chessies got accidentally "introduced" to the water at about 12 weeks of age when I foolishly let her fall headlong off the end of a dock into six feet of slushy, icy, late January water. At the time I thought I'd ruined her. She turned out to be the water freakingest dog I ever owned.
Still, it's natural for puppy owner to fret about their pup's desire to swim, hence all the various strategies. But if there's one thing above all others that pups respond to, it's their stomach. And that's why I liked this tip from reader Bill Maggert.
Low-stress (for the dog) and foolproof so far: Take a bag of Cheetos, eat a handful, give a handful to pup, and then toss a couple into some still water, like a pool or a pond. (The pond would be good for you). Coax her if you have to; but every puppy I've tried this with has been swimming and gobbling snacks within 15 minutes. I don't have any photo or video proof, but this is the final result. A young dog that will hold patiently after a water retrieve from the Atlantic Ocean. No Cheetos in the pic, but they were there!
What a great and extremely simple idea! Using a handful of Cheetos as a floating treat that encourages the dog to swim. Love it.
Bill, the editors will get your knife in the mail soon, and thanks again for all the responses so far. Keep them coming, and I'll announce another winner in a couple weeks or so.