Motivating the Unmotivated Hunting Dog

Dogs lack motivation for a variety of reasons: genetics, age, time of year, time of day etc. If you have a hard charging dog that wants nothing more than to retrieve and worship your every move, this blog isn’t for you. If instead your dog seems to have ups and downs with certain weeks being better than others, here are a few tips to have a more responsive training partner.

Time of Day

My dog acts like a stuck-up teenager when I wake her up. Despite sleeping roughly 16 hours per day, she still struggles in the morning. In the past I have found that once I establish a routine she has more energy. However, in the winter time, when the sun doesn’t rise until late morning, consistency doesn’t seem to matter. I find that throwing dummies on my lunch break or after work produces better results. Additionally, if she has been in her kennel or the car for a few hours, she seems to have more pent up energy.


I have mentioned this in past blogs, but it is worth reiterating. Changing up the rewards for your dog can get a young dog really excited. I will switch dog treats for hot dogs at times. Another option is to use pheasant wings and tail feathers for retrieves.

Less is More

Try training every other day or cutting back to a couple times per week. Maybe even take some time off and get your dog back to enjoying retrieves. Just make sure to spend time without putting pressure on your dog. Go back to the basics and make her feel confident.


This one is tricky. If you are frustrated by your dog refusing to listen, it’s probably not a good idea. But, if your dog is listening and just doesn’t have any pep in her step try getting around other dogs, water or kids. I have a Labrador and if I throw a couple water retrieves she suddenly comes alive. Training with a local hunting group might work well. I know in my area there are Facebook groups that meet up on the weekends. Try reaching out to a local breeder for more information.

Thanks for reading,


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