Duck dogs must fetch on command and hold the duck for delivery to hand. While these fundamentals are largely instinctive in well-bred dogs, they must be honed through training. A popular technique is “force-fetch,” which involves harsh negative reinforcement until the desired result is achieved. However, this method can be misapplied and have lasting consequences for meek dogs. An alternative method, known as “forceless fetch,” begins when the dog is a pup and is continually revisited into adulthood. This method teaches the dog to hold and fetch through conditioning, not force.
The forceless fetch method starts when the pup is three months old and is taught to hold a leather gardening glove. Later, the pup is taught to fetch the glove on command. When the pup is around four months old, the “Traffic Cop” drill is introduced, where the dog is commanded to sit and retrieve a bumper while the trainer positions themselves between the dog and the bumper to maintain control. If the dog repeatedly spits out the bumper, the “hold” command may need to be revisited.
While force-fetch is widely considered a standard step in any retriever program, the downside to old-school force breaking is that it can have lasting consequences for meek dogs and is not pleasant for trainers. The forceless fetch method is an alternative that teaches the dog to hold and fetch through conditioning, not force.
Obedience is crucial for retriever training. It serves as a foundation for better performance at home and in the field. Regular practice of obedience drills is necessary, but it need not be time-consuming. Just 5-10 minutes a day can yield excellent results.
There are several obedience drills that you can do with your retriever, which can be done regardless of the weather and location. These drills can be done inside or outside, making them convenient for any situation.
What lead or leash to use for obedience training retrievers
Although I personally dislike using leads or leashes, I understand their importance in training an obedient retriever. Many people make the mistake of discontinuing the use of leads too soon, resulting in the need to repeat previous lessons and potentially creating a “lead wise” dog. It is important to avoid this by continuing to use leads during training. However, it is not necessary to constantly hold onto the lead – much training can be done with the dog simply dragging the lead.
Choosing the right lead for retriever obedience is crucial for successful training
For training puppies and adult dogs that don’t come when called, I use a 50-foot lead to ensure I can reel them in if they refuse my command. This length is also necessary for retrievers so that I can guide them back to me after retrieving an item. However, most of my training is done with a 6-15-foot lead. Once a retriever is obedient, I switch to a short tab lead, around 6 inches, that I can hold in my hand. Here is a recommended leather tab lead.
I use tab leads for my dogs during training and long marks to reinforce obedience and steady work. It also helps with their work to and from the boat, blind, or line. Many people stop using tab leads too early. I avoid leads with loops because they can be dangerous if they hook onto an obstacle while the dog is running or swimming to retrieve.
When it comes to choosing the right collar for retriever obedience
To teach your retriever obedience, it is important to use the right collar. A standard buckle collar is not suitable for obedience drills as it is not designed for dogs to pull against. Instead, a chain or prong collar is recommended as it puts pressure on your retriever when he chooses not to listen. This correction is not harsh and involves a quick tightening of the collar followed by a quick release. This change in pressure helps your dog understand that you are in control and he needs to listen. Using a chain or prong collar can teach your retriever quickly and effectively, encouraging him to perform tasks quickly and correctly.
At our kennel, we frequently encounter clients who bring their dogs for obedience issues. However, we have observed that the major problem is often the lack of appropriate tools. It is imperative to use the right tools as they make a significant difference in training the dogs.
Obedience drills for retrievers
Walking your retriever on-lead is an important aspect of responsible dog ownership
Taking your dog on a walk on lead is the most common obedience drill. However, owners often face the problem of surging or pulling when walking their dogs. This occurs when the dog appears to be walking the owner instead of the other way around. It is a common issue that needs to be addressed during obedience training.
There are several devices available to help with the problem of teaching dogs to walk obediently, but I personally do not favor them. In my experience, I have been able to quickly train every dog that has been dropped off for training to walk obediently next to me using only a lead and either a chain or prong collar. Therefore, I find that other devices are unnecessary.
Correcting surging or pulling on leash
If you have a dog that pulls and surges while walking, changing directions is an easy and quick solution. When your dog starts pulling, immediately turn and start walking in the opposite direction while making sharp jerks on the leash and chain collar. Say the HEEL command and continue to do this each time the dog starts pulling or surging forward. This correction will help your dog learn to walk calmly on a leash.
When training your dog to stop pulling during walks, it’s normal to experience some initial frustration. It’s not uncommon to find yourself unable to even leave your driveway at first. However, with consistent practice, your dog will learn to pay attention to your movements and direction, resulting in more enjoyable walks for both of you.
Walking with your Retriever off-lead
To transition your on-lead walking dog to off-leash walking, follow this simple progression. Begin by practicing in a safe, enclosed area with no distractions. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog as they become more comfortable and reliable. Use positive reinforcement and reward good behavior. Consistency is key in this process. With patience and practice, your dog will learn to walk off-leash with ease.
Practice walks with dog on lead held by you
Progress to having dog drag lead while walking
Use lead to make necessary corrections
After several sessions, take lead off but tuck it into pocket next to dog
Leave a bit of lead exposed for dog to see
Eventually, have lead completely concealed in pocket
It is important to bring a lead with you on walks, even if your dog is skilled at walking off-lead. You never know what circumstances you may encounter, and having a way to control your dog is crucial. Always be prepared and bring a lead with you on every walk.
The Sit Command
Retriever owners commonly teach their dogs the SIT command, but often the command is weak. This weakness is evident when owners move or there are distractions, causing the dog to move as well. To strengthen the SIT command, consistency and standards are required. Fortunately, this is not a difficult task.
Start by having your dog SIT.
Walk a few feet away from your dog.
If your dog moves, tell him NO SIT and walk him back to the exact spot where he was sitting.
Repeat the command SIT.
Place a piece of tape on the floor or mark the ground in some way to ensure location is extremely important in this drill.
Take your dog back to the exact spot from which he moved or even further away from you.
As the dog gets steadier and stays seated, extend the distance.
Add temptations such as walking in a big circle around him, bending down, or clapping your hands.
If he moves, take him right back to the spot he moved from and repeat.
Work on this command to result in a nice strong SIT that you can feel confident in.
Teaching your Retriever to sit on the whistle.
Teaching your retriever to respond to a whistle has numerous benefits. Whistle commands can be heard from a greater distance than voice commands, and can cut through background noise. Additionally, whistles are clear and concise, devoid of any human emotion that may confuse or distract a dog. In my experience, retrievers consistently respond better to a SIT whistle than to a voice command.
When using whistles for dog training, there are only two commands: SIT and HERE. To communicate a SIT command, one toot on the whistle is sufficient. However, the volume and length of the whistle blast may need to vary depending on the distance of the dog from you and the level of emphasis needed for the command to be effective.
A HERE whistle command consists of three whistle blasts in quick succession without any pause in between. The sound produced is typically toot-toot-toot.
Start with dog in HEEL position and on lead
Command dog to SIT and immediately blow whistle one toot
Begin walking with dog at HEEL
After a few yards, repeat SIT verbal and whistle command
Repeat several times
Switch order: whistle command first, then voice command SIT
After consistent repetition, the dog will associate the whistle with the desired action, allowing for the elimination of the voice command.
Sitting at a distance
It’s important to understand that teaching your retriever the SIT command next to you does not necessarily mean they understand it at a distance. The SIT AT DISTANCE command is crucial in teaching your dog to respond to the command no matter where they are. This command reinforces the idea that whenever you say SIT, they must sit down, regardless of their location.
Teaching SIT at distance is a beneficial skill to have as a dog owner. It provides greater control over your retriever when they are off lead, whether you are an upland hunter or simply want more control at home. SIT at distance improves your dog’s responsiveness to your commands and can enhance your overall upland hunting experience.
To teach SIT AT DISTANCE, begin with the dog near you. As the dog learns, gradually increase the distance.
Say SIT command to the dog while paying attention to its location.
If the dog moves, bring it back to the exact location using a lead, tab lead or collar.
Repeat the SIT command after walking back to your original position.
If the dog still doesn’t SIT, walk towards it while repeating the command.
Once the dog SITS, say GOOD DOG.
Give a release command like OKAY and repeat step one after a few minutes.
Do not move further away until the dog consistently SITS from a few feet away.
Over time, increase the distance gradually as the dog progresses.
To improve your dog’s response, consistent training is key. Incorporating the SIT whistle along with the command will aid in their understanding. With time and practice, your retriever will learn to SIT on command, regardless of their distance from you.
In conclusion, Obedience training is crucial for your retriever’s overall development. It not only helps in preventing various issues at home and in the field but also enhances their ability to learn other training, such as hunting or competition. If you find it overwhelming to train your retriever or have a busy schedule, Bull Valley Retrievers can assist you with their programs tailored to your goals.
Force fetching is a popular training technique used to teach retrievers to reliably retrieve game on command. Force fetching is a process of teaching a retriever to retrieve a game bird or other object on command and to hold it until released. It is an important part of training a retriever for hunting and field trials.
Force fetching is a process that requires patience and consistency. It begins with teaching the dog to take an object in its mouth. This is done by presenting the object and using a verbal command, such as “fetch” or “take it.” Once the dog has the object in its mouth, the handler should use a verbal command, such as “hold” or “carry,” to encourage the dog to keep the object in its mouth. The handler should then use a verbal command, such as “give” or “drop,” to encourage the dog to release the object.
Once the dog has mastered the basics of force fetching, the handler can begin to teach more advanced commands, such as “Back”, which leads into Handling or Blind Work. Force fetching is an important part of training a retriever and should be done with patience and consistency. With proper training, a retriever can become a reliable hunting partner and a great addition to any hunting party.
If it’s one on one training for your Hunting Dog Training or if you prefer a Board and Train option, contact Bull Valley Retrievers for complete information and availability. It is highly recommended that you book One on One Training a couple weeks in advance and Board and Train should be reserved several months in advance. As a limited number of dogs are accepted for Board and Train and spots fill very quickly.
Keep in mind that training is a marathon and not a sprint. Contact your Overall Retriever Training Source – Bull Valley Retrievers for your evaluation and help creating the plan you need to create the exceptional Retriever. Contact Bull Valley Retrievers Here
When it comes to choosing a new gun dog, there are a lot of things to consider. First and foremost, you need to make sure that you are prepared for the commitment of owning a dog. A new puppy will require time, patience, and training in order to become a well-behaved member of the family. In addition, you will need to provide your new pup with plenty of exercise, socialization, and proper nutrition. Once you have decided that you are ready for the responsibility of dog ownership, it is time to start looking for the perfect puppy. When selecting a pedigree, it is important to do your research and choose a reputable breeder. A good breeder will be able to provide you with information about the parents of your puppy, as well as any health clearances or titles that they may have earned. In addition, a good breeder will be able to answer any questions that you may have about the breed. By taking the time to find a good breeder, you can be assured that you are getting a quality pup who has the best chance for a long and happy life by your side.
AKC Titles: American Kennel Club
Hunt Tests- These titles are found at the end of the dog’s registered name. For more information on AKC hunt tests, click here.
MNH: Master National Hunter
MH: Master Hunter
SH: Senior Hunter
JH: Junior Hunter
Field Trials- These titles are found at the beginning of the dog’s registered name. For more information on AKC field trials, click here.
NFC: National Field Champion
NAFC: National Amateur Field Champion
FC: Field Champion
AFC: Amateur Field Champion
QAA: Qualified All Age (This is not a true title because it isn’t found on their pedigree certificate, but it is a very good indication of the dog’s talent. QAA is placed at the end of the registered name)
UKC Titles: United Kennel Club – UKC tests are run under the Hunting Retriever Club, or more commonly referred to as, HRC tests. For more information on HRC tests, click here.
GRHRCH: Grand Hunting Retriever Champion
HRCH: Hunting Retriever Champion
HR: Hunting Retriever
SHR: Started Hunting Retriever
UH: Upland Hunter
NAHRA Titles: North American Hunting Retriever Association – For more information on NAHRA hunt tests, click here.
GMHRCH: Grand Master Hunting Retriever Champion
GMHR: Grand Master Hunting Retriever
MHR: Master Hunting Retriever
WR: Working Retriever
HR: Hunting Retriever
SHR: Started Hunting Retriever
When purchasing a new pup, it is important to make sure the parents and grandparents were healthy animals. Any reputable breeder will check the health of the parents and provide the results to the puppy owners. If the parents do not have health clearances, steer clear and look for another breeder.
OFA: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals – You’ll want to make sure that the parents and grandparents were tested for hip dysplasia! Parents who’s joints are rated “Good” or “Excellent” are ideal. Anything less, I’d steer clear.
Side Note: My dog, Buck came from parents who were rated “Excellent” and “Good,” and he still ended up with hip dysplasia. Sometimes bad things happen, and all the research in the world can’t save you from a stroke of bad luck.
Many breeders will do an exam for eyes, elbows etc. These clearances are a little less common but are nice to have.
EIC: Exercise Induced Collapse – This is a genetic problem which is passed down from the parents. Basically, when the dog works hard in the field, their body will shut down. The dog’s back legs give out and the dog will literally collapse in the field.
Here are the three designations you will see:
EIC Clear – This means the dog is not affected by the disorder and is good to go
EIC Carrier – This means the dog carries the gene for EIC, but is not affected by the disease
EIC Affected – This dog has the disease and will have the negative effects of the disease
Breeding an EIC Clear dog with an EIC Carrier will result in roughly half the puppies being clear and half the puppies being a carrier. Breeding a clear with a clear means the puppies will not carry the gene. Breeding an affected dog is highly unlikely, but can happen if the breeders do not check their dogs. You do not want a dog that is affected, that is why it is so important to buy from a breeder that tests their dogs.
CNM: Centronuclear Myopathy – This disease, plainly put, is muscular dystrophy in the canine form.
CNM Clear – The dog is cleared from the genetic mutation
CNM Carrier – The dog carries the gene for CNM, but is not affected by the mutation
CNM Affected – The dog carries the gene and is affected by the mutation
When you purchase a dog, it is important to understand the breed and what their natural tendencies are. If you are looking for a hunting companion, make sure to purchase a puppy whose parents have been in hunting games. This will give you an indication of what your dog will be like and help ensure that you are getting the best possible match for your lifestyle.
Obedience training is one of the most important things you can do for your retriever. A well-trained dog is a pleasure to have around, and can make hunting and retrieving much easier. Labrador retrievers are particularly intelligent and eager to please, making them excellent candidates for obedience training. There are a few key commands that all gun dogs should know, such as sit, here, heel and no. With patience and consistency, most dogs can learn these commands relatively easily. In addition, it is also important to teach your dog how to retrieve downed game. This is not only useful for hunting, but can also be a fun way to exercise your dog. With a little time and effort, you can have a well-trained retriever that will listen and be the envy of your friends and family.
The sit command is one of the first commands that most dog owners teach their pets, and for good reason. It is a simple command that is easy to learn, and it lays the groundwork for more advanced obedience training. Sit is also an important command for safety; if your dog is sitting, they are less likely to run into traffic or chase after wildlife. In addition, the sit command can be useful when hunting with a gun dog or working with a Police K-9 unit.
The second most important command that you can teach your dog is the “No” command. This simple command can be used in a variety of situations, from keeping your dog from jumping on guests to preventing them from chewing on your furniture. The no command is an important part of obedience training, and it can help to keep your dog safe and well-behaved. In addition, the no command can be used as a corrective measure when your dog is displaying bad behavior. For example, if your dog is barking excessively, you can use the no command to quiet them down. With proper training, your dog will learn to respond to the no command quickly and effectively.
Gun dogs are an important part of the hunting process. Their keen sense of smell and hearing allows them to flush out game, and their obedience ensures that they will follow commands and stay close to the hunter. The heel command is one of the most important commands that a gun dog must learn. It tells the dog to stay close to the hunter’s side, making it easier to control their movements and keep them safe. Without this command, gun dogs would be much more difficult to train and manage in the field. As a result, the heel command is an essential part of gun dog training.
The here command is one of the most important commands that you can teach your dog. Not only is it essential for obedience training, but it can also be a lifesaver. The here command tells your dog to come to you, no matter what they are doing or where they are. This means that if your dog gets off leash and starts to run away, you can call them back to you with the here command. It also comes in handy if your dog is playing too roughly with another dog or getting into something that they shouldn’t. In short, the here command is an essential part of responsible dog ownership. By teaching your dog the here command, you can help keep them safe and make sure that they always obey your commands.
Obedience is an important part of your dog’s training. It teaches them how to behave in a way that makes both you and them happy. At Bull Valley Retrievers, we specialize in obedience training for dogs of all ages and breeds. We can help you create a custom training program that will have your dog following your every command in no time. Contact us today to get started!