Starting a new Retrieving Puppy
by Joe Law
23 December 2012
you have trained dogs before or you are relatively new to this venture
every fresh start with a puppy will be a somewhat different experience.
Previous experiences certainly add to both your knowledge and skill
base but because every puppy comes as a unique individual every new
start is going to provide more experience with new opportunities and
Training programs do vary and truly experienced
trainers know that what worked in one training environment involving
one set of personalities will not necessarily produce the same outcomes
in another. Flexibility in approach to training is one of the hallmarks
of truly experienced trainers. Flexibility however, should not be
confused with inconsistency. Flexibility requires an ability to
empathise with your dog, having considerable patience and perseverance
along with the ability to initiate new ways of simplifying the learning
process for your dog. Inconsistency, on the other hand, is more likely
to be recognised and associated with a lack of the above qualities and
resulting in situations where the dog is unable to understand what is
being asked of it in order to be correct. Inconsistency leads
confusion, uncertainty and ultimately the lack of trust between dog and
The first six months of a puppy’s life is a
rapid growth and development during which he must learn to cope in the
environments that are about to surround his future life. From the time
you take delivery of your new pup his education will begin and you will
play an integral part in his development. While this period is not
generally considered to be a time for formal retriever training much
needs to be done to condition your dog for his future role in life.
Through play and pleasant experiences with you he will learn to cope in
a number of different environments. Combined with good nutrition, rest
and quiet time he will also learn to meet and greet strangers of both
human and animal kind. He must learn to accept being confined in a
crate and being restrained by collar and lead. He will have a short
concentration span and tire easily so training will be carried out in
short sessions. It is important to find time and expose him to those
environmental situations that involve noises, crowds, travel, stairs
and ramps. He will need to be introduced to different terrains that
involve various forms of cover and water.
Your pup can learn and
should be taught to come when called and this can easily be introduced
by using food and praise as a reward. In the same way simple obedience
commands of sit, stay and heeling can be introduced at an early age.
His natural drive to retrieve can then be awakened with some playful
fetch games but these should be carefully managed so that bad habits of
breaking, whining and barking along with failure to return and deliver
to hand are not inadvertently developed.
retriever training is best introduced after the pup has reached six
months of age and will be best left as subjects of future articles.
Photo by Lara Sedgmen
This is an edited
version of an article that first appeared in the July 2013 issue of Dogs
page is provided by Working Gundog Club Inc.
(Affiliated with Dogs NSW)