Whether your Retriever is for hunting or competition, there are some basic “Do’s & Don’ts” for Retriever training that are fairly constant. These are essential to build the foundation for a well-conditioned bird dog that consistently retrieves to your expectations.
If possible, it is much better to avoid bad behaviour from the start, since it is easier to learn proper behaviour when you don’t have to unlearn bad behaviour first. From a very early age, it is essential to consistently reinforce the behaviour you want. If your retriever is picking things up and carrying them, use encouragement to get him to bring it to you. When he brings it to you, praise him and let him enjoy the prize with you. The most important point is to start your retriever off right by making it fun to retrieve the right way every time.
Basic Do’s & Don’ts
1) Praise your retriever when he returns to you and while he’s is still holding the object in his mouth. Do not remove the object immediately, let him hold it and give praise. Remember when praising, stroke under his neck, this show him that he’s doing well!
2) Start by throwing retrieves in confined areas. This helps limit distractions and encourages direct returns. A hallway works nicely for this.
3) Keep training sessions short and sweet! Avoid training sessions being too long. Keep them fun and make them successful.
4) When your retriever gets to the point that he no longer returns to you with an object, put a check cord on the retriever so they are forced to return to you.
5) Watch the corrections you give when retrieving. Higher drive dogs like GSP’s and Labradors can be corrected more while with a lower desire retrieving dog, you may need to do less correcting.
6) Introduce your retriever to the scents of birds and feathers as young as possible. Getting a puppy into water at a young age is always a great idea.
Clayton has always used a book called Gundog Training by Keith Erlandson when training new dogs or just keeping his current Labradors fit.
Umdende Hunting Safaris use well trained Labradors for retrieving. German short-haired Pointers to flush upland birds and experienced hounds are used for Bushpigs.