Lucy is a black Labrador Retriever. Her owner used her to retrieve ducks last year, but this year they are hunting geese. Should not be a problem right? Shoot the goose, goose lands in the water, tell Lucy to 'fetch', she goes and brings back the dead goose, just like duck hunting right? Except, when Lucy goes to fetch the goose, she realizes a couple of things that throw off her game. One: the goose is much bigger and heavier than a duck. Two: it smells completely different. Lucy finds this confusing and gets anxious, dropping the goose, and swimming back to her frustrated owner solo.
Some specific training to teach Lucy to aid with the goose hunt is going to be necessary, so she is used to the different smell and weight of a goose. While Lucy may have mastered some of the skills required to hunt waterfowl, like waiting quietly for the command to retrieve, swimming, and returning to her master, ensuring that your dog is used to the specific quarry being targeted is also necessary to ensure success so your dog does not become confused.
If your dog does not have previous experience with hunting waterfowl, he will need to learn several skills in order to aid you in goose hunting. A dog must be motivated to retrieve, so getting your dog interested in geese by giving him exposure and initiating a game of retrieving geese needs to be established. Once your dog is motivated to retrieve geese, he needs to learn control, to sit quietly and wait, often behind a hunting blind, for the command to fetch before jumping out to retrieve the goose carcass, either from an open field or by swimming out into a lake or pond to get the goose and bring it back, unmangled, to his handler. It is very important that dogs learn control, as a dog can be easily shot if they launch out onto the hunting range before shooting has ceased. Dogs that have been previously used to hunt ducks may need to get used to the increased weight of a goose, and the different smell, before being used to hunt geese. Many hunters start their hunting dogs young, exposing them to the sights and sounds of hunting and getting them excited about geese at around 6 months to 1 year of age. However, experience is usually recommended before taking a dog out hunting in a group, where control is important to avoid accidents, and a young and overly excited dog may be distracted by sights and sounds.
Because geese are a different size and have a different smell than other waterfowl, getting your dog used to these differences by using geese wings or appropriately scented goose decoys will be required. If your dog is going to be in a boat as part of their hunting experience, training is recommended beforehand, to familiarize your dog with how to enter, exit, and ride in a boat, to ensure safety. Hunting dogs should have a good grasp of off-lead commands prior to starting training for hunting, as you will need a way to control your dogs out in the field. Sometimes, dogs in the field can become disoriented or confused--a good recall is critical to your dog's safety. You will need collars and leads to train your dog to wait for the 'fetch' or 'retrieve' command. Make sure when introducing your dog to hunting geese that the goose is dead before commanding your dog to close in, as geese can be aggressive and injure or frighten a dog.