By Kristy Fike
As seasons turn warmer, many retriever owners focus on taking their retriever to the next level. To many, this is the prime time to train hard before waterfowl season comes back around. There are many ways we can better our retrievers from home that will transfer to the field later.
Many people are getting their flower beds, gardens, and lawns ready for Spring and Summer. During these times, incorporate some dog training in with it. While I am cleaning out our flower beds, I will sit my retrievers in a spot in the yard and make them sit or lay while I work. This is a great way to promote steadiness and patience in your dog. If you have a younger pup or dog, a place board may be a handy tool to help ensure steadiness.
Some may say, “Well, I don’t have time for that. I have work to do.” I would counter by asking if they have time for their dog to break and ruin a long-planned hunt causing inbound ducks or geese to flare?
Consistency when enforcing basic manners or obedience in the home plays a major role in the results you have afield with your retriever. Whatever your retriever is allowed to do in the home, he will take to the field. Make sure your family, friends, and anyone that enters your home holds your dog to the same standards that you do and enforces commands the same way you do too. Inconsistency when enforcing commands in your home will create major stumbling blocks in the field.
Educate them on your high standards and expectations that you have for your dog. Some people will frown and disagree, but at the end of the day you are the one that has invested so much into your retriever and can’t afford for others to create bad behaviors that you will have to train out later.
All your retriever’s training builds off their foundations of basic obedience. As your dog continues to progress in their retriever training, make sure you reinforce their basic obedience. Take time once a week to revisit basic obedience sessions in the yard.
Think about your day to day actions with your retriever that could reinforce behaviors you expect in the field. Even things such as making your dog lay down on their bed while you greet and invite guests into your home will instill manners and obedience into your retriever that will pay off in the field.
When taking your retriever outside, make him sit while you go out the door first. Next, let them sit there for a moment before you allow them to join you outside. This will help instill steadiness, patience, and respect in your retriever.
At our home I make our three retrievers sit in a line, then I will open the door and exit. After some time has passed, I will call out their names individually to release them outside. If a dog gets up or attempts to break, I will simply reseat them in their original place. I will generally give my dogs a few chances, but if they continue to break, I will scold them and leave them inside.
Letting them outside after they break position will not only be a reward for bad behavior, but it will transfer to breaking in the field. Remember that you must build the dog up to the standard you desire. You cannot take an eight-week-old puppy and expect them to sit for a number of minutes at a time before they exit your house.
Striving to better your retriever at home will contribute to your success afield. Think of your simple chores during the day as opportunities to train or polish your retriever. Everyone must be on the same page in order to bring out the best in your dog at home and in the field. Don’t expect your dog to be a robot, but don’t slack in enforcing good behaviors.