Retriever Puppy Training: The Right Start for Hunting

Retriever Puppy Training: The Right Start for Hunting

by Cherylon Loveland, Clarice Rutherford



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781577790952
Publisher: Alpine Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/01/2010
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The pressure tools in the previous chapters, such as the ear pinch and the sling shot, are the stepping stones along the way to condition your dog to the electric collar. This final tool that allows you to train your puppy to the highest level can motivate him to become a top-notch obedience competitor, a hunting dog with lasting intensity, or a willing team player in the field trial arena. As you train your pup at this high level, you will have the joy of watching him learn to make good decisions by the options that he is given and by the options that are taken away. You will have the thrill of observing him act on those decisions in spite of opposition or difficulty and the best part is that all of these goals can be accomplished without breaking his spirit.

The introduction to the collar will begin by forcing the pup on the obedience commands he has learned previously. For the first couple of days he will be stimulated on the "sit" command only. Because a pup's reaction to a collar correction is to move away from the stimulation, it is important to counteract that natural tendency by getting control on the "sit" command.

By now you should know whether your pup is sensitive or not. Settings range from one to six on a Tri-tronics collar. Most collars have numbered settings with the lowest number having the lowest stimulation. The collars can also be set for a momentary or continuous stimulation. Determine which level motivates your pup without overpowering him and start at that level. You don't want to go through this process by babying him with very light stimulation and then wonder why a higher level of correction in the field causes your pup to overreact. Condition him to respond well to the levels of stimulation that you will need later on. From now on your pup will wear one of two collars for every training session, either the electric collar for when corrections will be needed or the dummy collar. You will need the following equipment: a choke chain, an electric collar, a leash , a long line, and a whip. After throwing a few fun bumpers, bring the dog to the heel position. Start by doing at least five minutes of "heel" and "sit" drills without using the collar. With the pup walking at heel, give the "sit" command and at the same time pull up on the leash, stimulate with the collar and repeat the "sit" command. Help the pup to sit with the leash, not allowing him to move away. Remember to release the button as soon as he sits. It is vital that your timing is perfect. Continue walking at heel and do several "sit" and "heel" commands before you stimulate on "sit" again. When you apply a collar correction, keep your eyes on the pup. I often see people looking at the transmitter instead of watching the response of their dog. Various behaviors can be observed with the first collar stimulations. The most common is jumping away. As you progress it is not unusual for the pup to act somewhat cautiously. Help the pup to sit with the leash, not allowing him to jump away. Remember to release the button as soon as he sits. Timing is vital. Continue walking at heel and giving encouragement as needed. Command the pup to sit and heel several times before applying the next collar stimulation.

By the second day you should see the pup responding better to the "sit" commands. His sits will get faster, but he will probably start lagging on the "heel" commands. When he starts lagging, stimulate him on "heel." The sequence will be: "heel," collar correction, "heel." Use a leash correction to keep him in the heel position. Be sure to praise your pup when you get the response you want. Try to relax the pup as you proceed. This must be at the forefront of your training. This program is not just about forcing the pup through the various steps but being able to keep his attitude at a level where he can continue to learn and preform successfully.

If you have a pup with a lot of energy, the pace of this drill should be slower than with a pup that is timid or one that has a tendency to worry. Set the pace for the type of pup you are training. Remember to do a lot of heeling and sitting without using the collar. During the second week, continue to use the leash to guide the pup to heel and to sit. You can introduce the sit whistle now. With the pup walking at heel, say "sit," give one blast on the whistle, jerk up on the leash, and repeat the "sit" command. Repeat this sequence until the pup understands that he must sit on the whistle. When you feel that he is ready, stimulate him on the sit whistle. The sequence will be: "heel," blow the "sit" whistle, jerk up on the leash, stimulate, and say "sit" again. Repeat several times with leash corrections only. Once you are comfortable with the pup's response to the stimulation on "heel," "sit," and "sit" on the whistle, introduce the "here" command. Give the pup a "sit" command and walk away. Start close, approximately ten feet. Give the "here" command and pull on the leash. Back up as he is coming to you. Blow the sit whistle and say "sit." If he doesn't sit, start to walk toward him and repeat the "sit" command. Back away from him again. Repeat the "here" command, blow the sit whistle, and say "sit." Repeat this until he can do it smoothly. Attach the long line to the pup's choke chain, and with the pup in the sit position, walk away fifteen feet. Call the dog to you using the "here" command and help him by pulling on the long line. Do this several times. When the pup responds to the "here" command without your help, use the collar, starting with a low intensity and working up to a higher intensity. Next, change the "here" command to a whistle command. Two or three short blasts with the whistle followed by a verbal "here" will get him to come to you as you pull on the long line. When he can do this without any problems, stimulate him on the "here" command. Give the pup a come in whistle, stimulate, and say "here." Blow the sit whistle and say "sit" before he gets to you. Vary the distance when stopping him after the "here" command.

When the pup sits reliably at a distance, stimulate him on the "sit" command. This will be much harder. The first time you stimulate him on the sit whistle at a distance he will probably come running to you. Use a low level stimulation. If he doesn't sit, take a step towards him, reminding him verbally to sit. Back up and try again. Increase the level of the collar correction as he becomes more successful and understands what he is supposed to do. Remember to do several "here" and "sit" commands without stimulation.

By the third week the pup should have a good response to the collar with little or no help with the leash or long line. Continue doing "heel" and "sit" drills to make sure he is responding appropriately. Work him at a distance with the sit whistle and the "here" commands. His sits should be quick and sharp and he should come readily on the "here" command or the come-in whistle.

Ideally, the pup has maintained a good attitude, but some dogs will have a less than perfect reaction. This doesn't mean they aren't good retrievers. The goal is to have a dog that performs the commands with purpose, not begrudgingly. You may not achieve perfection, so be content if the dog understands what is expected of him and can perform in a pleasing manner.


If a dog feels enough pressure that he does not understand, attempts at escaping are an option that no amount of de-bolting training will prevent. When a dog bolts, he feels that he has no options and he looks for a place to escape. The circumstance that causes a dog to bolt is often sudden and unforeseen. After collar conditioning on basic obedience, it is wise to spend a couple of days "debolting" your pup. The process takes a short time and is well worth it. Work the pup on a long line past an open door on the vehicle.

Do various "heel" and "sit" drills around the open door. Stimulate on an occasional command as you did in the beginning of the introduction to the collar. If the dog feels enough pressure, he will try to escape by jumping into the vehicle. When he does, pull on the long line and collar correct him on "here."

Take the pup to the kennel. Leave some of the kennel doors open. Work him again on some obedience in the kennel area. Make him go in and out of the kennel run. Command him to come to you as he passes the open doors. If he ducks in, make a collar correction. The goal is to have a dog that performs the commands with purpose, not begrudgingly.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Selecting a Puppy1
Chapter 2: Personality Traits11
Chapter 3: Your Seven-to-Sixteen-Week Old Puppy17
Chapter 4: Your Four-Month-Old Puppy31
Chapter 5: Your Five-Month-Old Puppy37
Chapter 6: Your Six-Month-Old Puppy47
Chapter 7: Hold and Fetch57
Chapter 8: Force to the Pile71
Chapter 9: Introduction to the Collar77
Chapter 10: Force to the Pile with the Collar81
Chapter 11: The Mini-T, the Single-T and the Double-T85
Chapter 12: Water Basics91
Chapter 13: Handling and Lining Drills101
Chapter 14: Beginning Land and Channel Blinds107
Chapter 15: Your Hunting Companion113
Puppy Training Resources119
About the Authors121

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