Obedience Training is the Foundation of Retriever Training

Obedience Training is the Foundation of Retriever Training

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.

Sit Command

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.

No Command

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.

Heel Command

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.

Here Command

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!

Table Foods That Are Not Pet Friendly

Table Foods That Are Not Pet Friendly

Table Foods That Are Not Pet Friendly or Healthy

It is possible to feed your dog “Human” food, but it is important to understand what foods to Avoid and know what not to feed your pet.

Many people think that they are doing what best for their best friend when they give them a treat from the table, etc… However, many foods the we eat are not only unhealthy for dogs, but can be dangerous.

Among other things you should avoid giving your dog the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate, Coffee or Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Coconut or Coconut Oils
  • Grapes or Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Milk / Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Onions, Garlic or Chives
  • Undercooked Meat, Eggs or Bones
  • Salt or Salty Snack Foods
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast Dough

Check out this article form the ASPCA that give you a more detailed list and access to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number.

Problems with Doggie Day Care

Problems with Doggie Day Care

Doggie daycare is a common luxury for many dogs.  Pet owners who feel guilty that their dogs spend all day at home send their pets to what appears to be doggie heaven.  At many day cares, dogs are off-leash and allowed to play non-stop with all of their canine friends.  What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, there are many problems with this setup that well-meaning dog owners should be made aware of.  In this three part series the problems with doggy care care will be discussed.  

Training Regression
Many pet owners are surprised to find that their well-trained dogs begin to regress in their training after visits to doggy day care.  In a perfect world, obedience commands would be reinforced; however, day cares are often a free-for-all, where the supervisor’s job is simply to ensure no dogs are seriously injured.  This means that your dog is often able to get away with behaviors that would not be tolerated at home.  In fact, many of those negative behaviors are even reinforced at day care.  Since a large portion of dog training relies on consistency, doggie day cares directly contribute to training issues at home.  

Potty Training Regression
Additionally, many pet owners find that their dogs develop potty training regression as a result of doggie day care.  If your dog is accustomed to urinating on grass, it can be confusing to urinate on new surfaces, such as concrete, artificial turf, or carpeting.  Watching other dogs potty indoors can lead your pet to mimic the behavior, as well.  

Lack of Structure
If you have ever found the dog park overwhelming or anxiety-inducing due to the lack of structured play and instead a large pack of animals chasing one another, doggie day care is not for your pet.  Safe canine play requires structure and a trained eye for recognizing canine body language.  The free-for-all that is represented at most day care facilities not only creates bad habits in your pet, but results in an unsafe atmosphere.  

Limited Criteria for Enrollment
Many doggie day cares have no selection process, which can be a recipe for disaster.  Dogs with strong prey drives, resource aggression, or anxiety are given the opportunity to play in close quarters with dogs of similar personality.  When volume (and profits) are more valued than the creation of a safe and enriching atmosphere, dangerous situations such as dog fights can arise.

Poor Alternative to Socialization
Doggie day cares are typically advertised as the perfect solution to your socialization needs.  However, proper socialization requires both positive and negative reinforcement for good and bad behaviors.  At doggy day care, your pet is simply exposed to a variety of animals and situations with no correction for unwanted behaviors.  Instead of day care, structured training, dog walking, and boarding are the safer alternative to this all too common practice. 

Memory and Marking the Fall – Retriever Training

Memory and Marking the Fall – Retriever Training

Retriever Training – Tips on Memory Marking and Marking the fall

A great drill that you can perform with multiple dogs and hunting buddies is memory marking, which will be described here.  

This fun and easy drill can be performed with one or more dogs, as well as one or more friends.  To begin, throw bumpers into the water while your dog watches.  Tell your dog to heel and do not send him or her to retrieve the bumpers.

Next, take your dog(s) toward your hunting buddies, who should be tossing bumpers and shooting.  When a mark is thrown, pull your dog off the mark.  Instead, direct your dog away from that mark and towards the memory bumper, which is the bumper that was previously thrown into the water.  After one dog retrieves a memory bird, continue the drill by now steadying the first dog and making him or her sit quietly while your buddies shoo.  When you are ready, send the second dog after the memory in the water.  The more people and dogs that are involved, the better.  

This drill improves your dog’s ability to go after blinds while also creating a steady animal that honors your commands.

Shed Dog Training Drills

Shed Dog Training Drills

You can easily turn your trained retriever into a shed dog by incorporating a few simple drills into your dog’s training.  Here, shed dog training drills recommended by renowned retriever / shed dog trainer Tom Dokken are discussed.  

Antler Introduction
In this first drill, the goal is simply to make your dog excited about picking up sheds.  Take the smallest shed you can find, remove any sharp tines, and toss it in your house or yard.  Encourage your dog to pick up the antler, and treat your pet as if he or she is the smartest dog in the world when picking up the bone.  The more excited you can make your dog, the better.  

Sight Training

In shed hunting, you want your retriever to work independently from you when seeking out sheds.  Your dog should use both nose and eyes while shed hunting.  To develop your dog’s sight skills, create a large silhouette of a shed (such as a cardboard cutout in the rudimentary shape of antlers) and place it in the ground like a flag, with a shed antler next to it.  Your dog will want to investigate the silhouette.  When he or she runs over to the cut out, give a command such as “find the bone.”  Your dog will associate the sight of the antlers with the reward of the retrieve, which will help develop the animal’s skills. 

Scent Training
The next drill you can perform with your retriever relies on your dog’s nose.  By nature, sheds do not have a lot of scent, but your dog’s highly sensitive nose will still be able to detect the subtle odor.  You can apply scent, such as Rack Wax, to the base and tines of an antler to aid your dog in learning this distinct scent.  Start with the same drill as above, where the scented antlers are placed near the silhouettes.  Next, remove the silhouettes, but place the scented sheds in the same area as where the silhouettes once stood.  Finally, when your dog is getting the hang of this drill hide the sheds in harder to find areas, such as tall grass, to force your pet to use its nose.  

Hunt Simulation
The final drills you should run before your dog is ready for a real shed hunt should simulate the scenarios your dog will encounter in the field.  These can be incorporated into your dog’s training once he or she is reliably using sight and smell to find the hidden sheds.  To begin, place heavily-scented antlers in difficult-to-find areas.  Next, reduce the amount of wax you apply to the sheds, while also removing as much human odor as possible with deodorizing cleansers, and handling them with rubber gloves.  Finally, increase the size of the sheds that you use in training so that your dog has practice handling large pieces of bone.  

During these drills, never hesitate to return to and repeat an earlier drill if more reinforcement is necessary.  Above all, keep training sessions short and fun, and always set up your dog for success. 

Tips for Gun Dog Success and Your Hunting Retriever

Tips for Gun Dog Success and Your Hunting Retriever

Gun Dog Success can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but at times also one of the most frustrating.  Tips for training your hunting retriever are discussed here. 

Steady First, Retrieve Later
Many hunters make the mistake of moving past basic obedience in favor of countless retrieves without restraint.  Only after the dog has been encouraged to chase after a dummy with enthusiasm do hunters attempt – with great frustration – to steady the animal.   Instead, your dog should first be proficient at “stay” with non-retrieves.  In this way, your dog will not expect to retrieve everything that falls.  When emphasis is placed first on steadying, the dog also learns to offer calm behaviors, instead of hyperactive enthusiasm for retrieving game.  In training, make your dog sit and watch dummies for 10 – 30 minutes before you send him or her to retrieve them.  Additional benefits of this practice include improved knowledge of hand signals, better blind retrieves, and less hard-headed independence.  

Gun Dog Success starts before your dog ever steps foot in the field, he or she should be proficient at coming on command.  Again, this problem is directly caused by placing more emphasis on retrieves than on obedience.  A dog that is well-trained for recall will obey the command no matter the distraction – including falling game.  

Once you have purchased a dog, you cannot change its personality.  However, a common problem among hunters who train their own dogs is that today’s retrievers have more personality than their ancestors from 50 years ago.  Instead of calm and gentle personalities, today’s breeders seek to produce dogs that are well-suited to field trials, meaning most retrievers are hyperactive and stubborn.  If your dog is too much to handle for your level of expertise, do not hesitate to seek the help of a professional dog trainer.  The money will be well worth the decreased frustration.

Electronic Collars
Electronic training collars are powerful tools that, when used properly, are unparalleled for putting the finishing touches on a hunting dog.  However, when used improperly they can produce just as many problems as they solve.  Unfortunately, many dog owners who are untrained in their proper use turn to electronic collars and create anxious, fearful dogs.  The electronic collar should never be used as a first resort, and dog owners should beware that if you cannot train your dog without the collar, the chances of successfully training him or her with electronic stimulation are slim.  Before turning to an e-collar to solve a problem with basic obedience, turn to a professional dog trainer first.  

Good Bloodlines
There are two ways to produce a good hunting dog:  through extensive training, and through breeding.  Ultimately, a dog with good bloodlines that is properly bred will be easier to train than an animal with inferior qualities.  For instance, a quality-bred Labrador Retriever should naturally have a soft mouth that does not require force-fetch training.  The tendency of breeders to produce dogs with a genetic predisposition to a hard mouth increases the amount of training required, while also perpetuating this trait.  

Two other traits that are continually masked by training instead of circumvented by selective breeding are hyperactivity and cooperation (or lack thereof).  While the hyperactive dog can be extensively trained to be under control, his or her puppies will have this trait.  The same can be said for dogs that are hard-headed.  Instead, retrievers with sensitive natures struggle with electronic collar training, and they are considered poor candidates for further training, thus removing this beneficial trait from the gene pool.  

Instead, hunters spend additional time training their dogs, when they could already be in the field.  While this point may not be beneficial for owners who have already purchased a hyperactive, stubborn dog with a hard mouth, one of the best tips for achieving Gun Dog Success is to seek a quality hunting lag pedigree and bloodlines with characteristics that predispose the dog to being receptive to training.

Need help training your Retriever? Contact Bull Valley Retrievers – call: 708.341.2576 or [email protected]