ARTICLES & ADVICE
FAMILY HISTORY & GENEALOGY
Retriever Play Training
When starting puppies on retrieving, use
something light and easy to
carry like a small dummy or socks stuffed with rags. Don't throw
sticks, play tug-of-war games or train two pups at once letting them
compete for the dummy, these practices all promote chewing and hard
mouths -- things we don't want to see
in pups or adult dogs.
Small dummies and socks are easy for pup to retrieve, you won't be able
to throw them too far and they won't bounce like a tennis or rubber
do. The socks have an advantage of having your scent on them and can be
easier for pup to find. Before you start using your dummy, carry it
around for a few days or wipe some perspiration on it to give more
scent than just your hands will. Have faith, your scent is critical
The reason we are working with the dog is to avoid creating bad habits.
There will be no "toss and hope." When your dog decides to run around
and see if you'll play the chase me game, there will be no yelling, no
punishment or threat of punishment. To help you be successful, position
yourself between the dog and the crate. Most likely, your dog will want
to run to his "apartment" and play with the new prize. Catch him as he
runs by. (A check cord can be helpful here.)
THROW the dummy a few feet (always underhand and always
pup's eyes) say FETCH as he runs toward the dummy to pick it
if needed, urge (NEVER YANK) him back toward you with the check cord.
PRAISE the dog a lot as you say GIVE and take the dummy.
doesn't release the dummy, you can push it farther back in the mouth.
shove it out with his tongue.
If the pup isn't interested in the dummy, tie a cord to it and
toss it again. If he runs toward it and then losses interest, give the
dummy a yank. More than likely, he will pounce on it and then you can
lure him back to you.
Some dog's interest can be peaked by dropping a tennis ball. It
bounces, he tries to catch it, but bumps it with a clumsy puppy foot.
The ball rolls farther, urging the pup to chase. Finally he grabs the
ball and amazingly, you are both having fun.
For the play method to work, the sessions must remain fun. Don't make
it work by overdoing. Practice a little play obedience and play fetch
for a few
minutes each, then quit. Enthusiastic pups can fetch six times, pups
get bored easily should only do two or three fetches. Remember puppy
spans are very short. It is better to play train for five minutes
times a day than one marathon session. QUIT WHILE YOU ARE AHEAD
long before pup becomes bored.
Don't let yourself become angry while training, that will make pup
dread your sessions together. No matter what happens, maintain the
excited spirit of play. If you are saying sweet things through gritted
teeth, your dog will know you are angry. If you don't have patience,
take acting lessons so your dog won't suffer.
After your play session is over, take the pup back to the house or
kennel. NO MORE PLAY OF ANY KIND. This play training is his play. He
will look forward to play training and later to more serious training
if he is never permitted aimless self-play outside the house or kennel.
The dog's enthusiasm for your "play" will be enhanced so you will
always have his attention. This will save
an enormous amount of training time.
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