7 Frequent Mistakes in Retriever Training


Retriever training might seem as a simple process to a layman, but actually there are so many things that the trainer needs to take into consideration before and during the process of training. Fact is, there are many retriever trainers who make mistakes that should be addressed once again after the training process is over. Therefore, in order to avoid such problems later on in the training, there are things that need to be considered beforehand.

Here are some of the most frequent mistakes made during a retriever training process:

Long, exhausting training sessions

Starting big is a good idea but trainers should not forget that continuous exhausting training sessions can bring negative results. Due to different long and repetitive training sessions, the pup might lose focus and just drop. Just like children, puppies have short attention span and can’t focus on one single activity longer than 5 minutes. Moreover, constant training sessions don’t always bring good results because the pup won’t have enough time to rest between sessions. A better idea to fix this is to practice twice a day for a few minutes – this will keep the pup active and not so worn out. This is also a good idea that will keep pups between 6 and 12 months willing to practice. At this point, trainers should work with them not longer than 20 minutes. With time, the sessions can be spread to 10 minutes per day and 20 minutes sessions four times per week.

Early hunting attempts

Taking pups aged 10 months or younger to hunting is completely obsolete and doesn’t have any positive effect. On the contrary, the sounds the guns make can chase the pups away from the entire situation which can only lead to shyness and withdrawal. The best thing trainers can do at this point is to remain calm and work in an isolated area where pups can improve their basic hunting skills.

Waiting for the pup to steady

Some trainers fear that if they make an effort to steady the pip early in the training process, the pup might lose motivation. This is not applicable to situations when the training is carried out with simple but gentle methods. Every single pup trained for hunting should learn about steadiness to shot and fall and should know how to mark and retrieve. So, in order to train the pup properly, trainers should start denying pup retrieves early in the process. They should also try picking up about a half of the bumpers and about 60% of all drowned birds on the first few hunts and wait to see how the pup will react with time.

Making the pup fail

Making a pup fail on purpose is one of the greatest setback when it comes to training. Opposite to popular opinion, pups need to stay motivated and confident in the long run. Making them fail will be a huge step back for the pups and a great obstacle in the future. Give a helping hand by locating the fall and show the pup what needs to be done. Repeat these action a few times if necessary and watch how the pup learns to succeed.

Skipping training stages

Skipping the transitional stages of training leads to taking the pup to a hunting session too early. The expected result from the skipped repetition training sessions are having a pup which is out of focus and barely paying attention to any commands. Impatient trainers tend to do this very frequently and the mistakes always come to the surface when the pup is left on its own during the first real hunting session. Just like children, puppies are used to developing their skills gradually and systematically and this practice should always be applied to hunting pups.

Late whistle training sessions

All stages of the training process should be introduced to the pup on time. One usual mistake that trainers make is introducing the whistle commands to the pup far too late in the process. What really needs to be done is start early with the basics whistles for “recall” and “sit”. This can be easily done through a play where pups will be trained by receiving rewards. If whistle practice starts on time, pups will be able to respond to the “recall” whistle by eight weeks of age. At this age, pups are eager to play around and learn to associate a positive experience with the whistle they hear. The “sit” command takes pups about three months to learn. Once they learn it, they will surely hear and respond to every single “sit” command. Therefore, start practicing the whistles as early as possible so all problems are gone when the pup needs to respond to them during a hunting session.

Not practicing hand signals on time

Another mistake is to wait for the pup to grow in order to start teaching hand signals. Poor trainers tend to wait for the first hunt to pass so that they can introduce the hand signals. What really matters more is to teach the pup to be a partner in the hunt and read and understand instructions so it can act on time and in a proper way. What was already said about the whistles can be repeated once again here – start teaching hand signals when the pup is young so you can practice the signals when the real hunting situations take place.


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