Retrieving in Water
By Jeff Griffiths
14 May 2012
How do you train your gundog
to successfully retrieve in water?
Retrieving Trials (RT) there must be at least one retrieve into or
through water. For Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs (RATG) water
retrieves are allowed but don’t have to be used. But your Gundog must
be trained to retrieve in water to be assured of success. You don’t
want a dog that avoids water or just simply won’t get in.
first step in getting our gundogs to retrieve in water is to
‘introduce’ them to water. Firstly, get your dog swimming in warm
weather when the water and air temperatures make it pleasant for your
dog to get in the water, rather than doing it in winter. Once your dog
is used to going into the water and they are a confident swimmer, cold
weather swimming will be alright for most dogs.
a number of ways to get your dog into water and swimming.
However, never ever throw the dog into water, as this will only make
your dog dislike water and swimming. Find a lake, river or
with a shallow area or easy entry. Get into the water and encourage
your dog to come in with you. Have them on a lead if you like.
Initially, go in to knee depth, wearing gumboots if you want to. You
could even go into deeper water with the dog if you like. Have a
retrieving dummy or bumper and throw it for your dog to fetch. If your
dog is not a reliable retriever yet, only throw the dummy into shallow
water so that you can get to it if necessary. When you have a reliable
retriever, throw the retrieve into deeper water and your dog will swim
out and retrieve it.
So, at first you are getting the dog comfortable with going into water,
and then building up to swimming into deeper water.
method that I have used with great success is to have the young dog go
out with two or more older, experienced dogs that are good
swimmers. The experienced dogs go into the water to
retrieve or just for a swim and the young dog will follow and soon they
are swimming with the older dogs. It will be fun for your dog.
breed of your gundog can make a difference. Some breeds or individuals
may need a bit more encouragement at first and you have to make an
assessment on how well your dog is accepting being in water and
swimming. Most gundogs will take to water easily. Labrador Retrievers
love swimming. They are amongst the best water dogs in the world.
competition your gundog may have to retrieve into a dam or river. They
may also be required to swim across a dam or river with the item to be
retrieved on land across the other side. So practice both types of
retrieves. Initially it is best to send your dog from the waters edge,
so that they are less likely to run around the water or along the
riverbank to avoid swimming.
It’s a good idea to go and see RT gundogs doing water retrieves. Check
this Retrieving Australia website retrieving.org.au for
upcoming trials and go and have a look.
Photo by Lara Sedgman
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Dogs
page is provided by Working Gundog Club Inc.
(Affiliated with Dogs NSW)