Summer months –Training
by Joe Law
25 September 2012

Summer months are a good time for maintenance training your retriever. Hard running retrievers can easily suffer from heat exhaustion so keep training sessions shorter and include water work in your program. Both Retrieving Ability Tests and Novice level Retrieving Trials focus on only sighted retrieves where the dog’s performance is basically of its own making and the demand for control is limited to heeling and steadiness. These summer months are a good time to teach and extend control work especially as too many sighted retrieves can result in the dog becoming excessively independent in attitude.

WaterMake use of this time to drill your dog on basic obedience commands: Sit – Come –Stop –Go and extend your dog’s training to include taking casts to Left- Right and Back. Next, build your dog’s confidence in running to strategically placed dummies or dummy piles where the dog has not seen anything cast. A handler can only be said to have control of the retrieve if the dog remains steady, only retrieving when sent in a direction determined by the handler: Furthermore, to have control, a handler must be able to stop the dog with a whistle or voice command and give added directions that are both understood and obeyed.

It is important to keep training drills simple and short and concentrate on each command until it is thoroughly learned and reliably carried out. Slowly build the type of control that will be necessary for your dog to be able to work in the field and retrieve more than one article in a required order including articles that your dog has not seen cast and has no knowledge of where it has fallen.

Dogs that have not been taught and thoroughly drilled to run in the direction they are sent will tend to skirt and avoid difficult terrain, cover and water. Start by teaching commands on flat ground with short cover and at short distances. Only when the dog is performing consistently and reliably should any attempt be made to extend the drills to more difficult terrain, cover and water.

In summer months when the water is warmer is the best time to introduce inexperienced dogs to the discipline of controlled work in water. All dogs can have difficulty maintaining their correct body temperature in oppressive weather conditions. Make use of water in the hot summer months and train smarter rather than harder.

Photo by Lara Sedgmen

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Dogs NSW magazine.

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