I have an eight year old labrador that I use on both game and deer. She's been a great stalking dog, very steady to deer and has successfully worked a number of blood trails. She loves going stalking, getting excited if I come down the stairs in my stalking kit. But recently she's started acting strangely occasionally when out stalking.
She will walk perfectly at heel but then, for no apparent reason, she'll just sit down and won't move. She won't come to the whistle or hand signals. If I go back to her she'll just lie down and, as a dead weight, will not be moved. If I take the lead out she will stand, put her head through the lead and walk at heel, but then 50 or so yards later she might sit and then lie down again. The only way I can then move her is to drag her After that she'll walk back at heel, maybe for the rest of the time I'm out but maybe just for 5 minutes when she'll then repeat the process.
Initially she only did this when I was out guiding one particular client, so I though that might be the reason, but over the Christmas/New Year break I took her out on my own and she did exactly the same thing. Then, to really confuse matters, when I was out last Friday she was perfect throughout. So it doesn't happen all the time, doesn't happen on a particular beat, doesn't happen at a particular place, doesn't happen at a particular point on a stalk and doesn't happen with a particular client. For the life of me I can't figure out why she does it. Oh, and she doesn't do this when she's out beating/picking up and doesn't do it when we take her for a regular walk with the other two dogs, so it's only when we're out stalking, and then only sometimes.
Does anyone have any suggestions? And no, before anyone mentions it, I'm not going to have her put to sleep! Although I've only had to use her twice on deer that were shot and wounded by clients, I've got used to stalking with a dog and wouldn't want to be without one.