Retriever Training: Slow and Steady by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan

Retriever Training: Slow and Steady by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan

How long does it take to train a retriever? As a trainer, this is a question I get very often and the best answer I can give is it takes what it takes. That is very dependent on the dog you have and your training abilities. Having a well trained retriever won’t happen over night or even over a couple of months, it is something that takes consistent training and maintenance throughout a dogs career. One of the most important traits any successful trainer possesses is patience. As discussed in a previous article this is why having a plan can really pay off. Regardless of what your goals are for your dog in order to keep your dog progressing through training with a good attitude we must be thorough. Take your time in training, this is not a sprint but a marathon if you are trying to fulfill your dog’s potential. As we go though training every step builds off of the previous. This meaning if we don’t have step A down pat we are going to run into problems in step B. Keeping this in mind as you move through training will show in your dogs attitude and get you and your retriever where you want to be in a reasonable amount of time without having to backtrack and fill holes in the dogs training. In a society that revolves around convenience and instant results it can be difficult for some to understand that sometimes slow and steady is best. One of the biggest problems folks have is knowing when to move on in training. Here are some things to keep in mind as you and your dog move through training. Have realistic expectations. SlowandSteady1

We are never going to train for perfection. A dog is an animal and he is never going to be perfect in every phase of training and neither are you as a trainer but we can expect the dog to be reliable before we progress. If we strive for perfection we will find ourselves disappointed often in training. Once the dog shows you he understands and is reliable at whatever task we’re teaching it’s time to move on. Now we just covered being thorough as we move through training and what happens by moving on before the dog is ready but what can happen by not moving on when the dog is ready? It’s called exercising. Although exercising doesn’t sound all that bad there is a big difference in training and exercising. At that point the doing isn’t being challenged and he isn’t progressing in training, he is simply burning calories. Not only will we find ourselves just exercising the dog but we will often be eroding the dogs attitude at the same time. Training a polished retriever is going to require you to be slow and steady, patient, understanding and firm but fair. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a topic you would like us to touch on. And until next week Happy Training!

Don’t forget that if your gonna buy gear, the guys at Marsh Mutt have what you need!! Gun Dog Supplies

Matt Duncan
Bourbon Bay Kennels LLC

4 Responses to “Retriever Training: Slow and Steady by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan”

  1. Bill Spadafora

    Excellent article….however… before starting a young pups slow and steady training… the importance must be placed on control…..please touch on that importance in your follow up article’s…sit, stay and come/heal are the basic foundations necessary before any training can begin….

    Bill Spadafora
    Ronkonkoma, NY

    • Josh


      This is a series of articles. If you look at the previous articles you will see that Building A Foundation talked just about that!

      Thank you for checking it out

  2. John

    I find this article to be excellent and very informative. I recently received a 4 month old chessie/lab mix for my birthday. I have been using the slow and steady method and trying not to overwhelm or over train. It has paid off in leaps and bounds! I have seen a dramatic improvements in the pup by just being patient with him. I go at his pace in short training sessions(about 20min at a time) twice a day. I also don’t use harsh beatings and use the more firm but be gentle approach. I really appreciated the insight you had on a rush rush society that we live in. In just one month of having my dog, taking my time and being patient,We (my pup and I) have formed a strong bond and both look forward to this training time together. Thank you for relaying this message.It takes time, it isn’t over night but once you and your dog get on the same page it is something wonderful.


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