Retriever Training: Building the Foundation by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan

Retriever Training: Building the Foundation

In this weeks article we are going to start a dog’s basic obedience. Obedience is what we will continue to build on throughout his career and must be completed and maintained at a high standard. Most of what a retriever does afield is obedience based meaning if he is steady when ducks are dropping in the decoys it’s a level of obedience. If he takes that perfect angle cast at 300 yards and carries it to the pin it’s a product of obedience. No matter what our goals are for a dog be it duck hunting or a competition dog, his basic obedience will be what we as trainers use to build on as the dog progresses through training. Hunting with an enjoyable dog all starts with having a reasonable level of control over him. One thing that I think many folks overlook is that even if you aren’t hunting or running an event, a compliant dog is a safer dog to own. Now unless you started waterfowl hunting yesterday we’ve all heard the guy across the marsh yelling and shouting commands to his dog in hopes Fido might actually respond. Although that scenario can be entertaining, DON’T BE THAT GUY, here’s how. Train the trainer. Become somewhat of a student before you become a teacher. Educate yourself all you can. Don’t freelance your own custom training program if you aren’t experienced. There are many different types of literature and programs on DVD that can give you direction. By committing to a structured program you eliminate a lot of chances for holes to develop in basics or confusing the dog. Seek experienced help. This is where your local retriever club can become a tremendous resource. Reach out to your local pro. There are also many pro trainers that offer a one on one session type program designed to help folks that want to train their own retriever but need some guidance. Regardless of what path you take a structured approach is going to deliver the most reliable results. Some other things to keep in mind going through basics is balance in training. Although we are working on basics in the yard at home we still need to keep the dog active and progressing in the field by continuing to give marks and finishing up whatever introduction work the dog needs such as introducing, water, gunfire, decoys and gunners in the field. Maintaining balance between yard work and field work is going to help prevent eroding the dogs attitude. When we start basics this is the first time we are really beginning to impose ourselves on the dog and we always want to make sure we are leaving something in it for them. Don’t muddy up your training. What I mean by this is as we move into obedience we want to prevent working against ourselves. Best way to avoid this is by avoiding situations where you will give a command that you are not able to reinforce. Don’t take the “I’m the boss” approach. When I begin basics with a dog this is the first real opportunity we have to build a relationship based on trust and respect with the dog. A stylish well trained retriever isn’t a subordinate he’s a teammate. In the end a solid basics is going to lead to a reliable retriever that is going to be a pleasure to hunt over, train or live with. Be sure to check out the many retriever products available at Marsh Mutt. And if there are any topics you would like for us to touch on in the upcoming weeks don’t hesitate to reach out to us. And don’t forget to get your gear from the best Gun Dog Supplies
Until next week, Happy Training!

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Matt Duncan
Bourbon Bay Kennels

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