Retriever Puppy Tips [Back to Monthly Pro Staff Articles]
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Pups in Progress
What does your new puppy and a penny have in common? They both have a head and a tail! This article strives to keep your new pup's tail wagging and his head in the game! Whether you want your dog to compete on the national circuit or just be a great hunting buddy, these guidelines will apply.
Terry Price of Oakridge Kennels and I put together some key objectives for your pup's first few months at home. Here is a short list of Do's and Don'ts:
- Introduce the pup to new people, places and things
- Throw short and easy retrieves- don't overdue this
- Work them on real birds
- Train basic obedience - their name, here/come, sit
- Maintain control- keep a check cord on them
- Introduce them to gunfire- start far away and gradually shorten the distance
- Set rules and boundaries and be the clear leader
- Be patient and have fun
- Rough house with the dog
- Play tug-of-war
- Allow rough housing with other dogs
- Allow dominant behavior
- Lose your temper
- Give a command you aren't able to reinforce
It's important to remember that in the wild, wolf pups are constantly learning. The pack is teaching them how to survive and how to be a contributing member of the family. They must be a sponge in order to stay alive. Your situation is no different. Your new gun dog needs to view you and your family as pack leaders. Terry explains that tug-of-war and rough housing are games you need avoid. These games bring you down to the pup's level in the pack and can create bad habits. Imagine having a gladiator style tug-of-war match with your prized gun dog in front of your hunting buddies; not a pretty sight.
These pups are bred to retrieve and hunt for birds. All you need to do is nurture the instinct and keep the excitement level up. Terry says that 2-3 retrieves every other day is all you need. Keep your sessions short and fun. It's important to end your session with the puppy wanting more. Training isn't the time to tire your pup out! If they consistently lose interest in your sessions you may diminish their desire to work in the future. Also, be sure to introduce your pup to feathers. Chasing a wing-clipped pigeon around the yard will build prey drive and reinforce their instinct for the real thing.
Create a bond with your pup. This bond will serve you well for many years in the blind. The bond will drive your dog to achieve remarkable feats. In order to create a tight bond you must spend time with the pup. Keep your pup separated as best as you can from other family pets. Terry and I agree that you must be their number one focus, not Old Rusty, the house dog. Terry also emphasized that while you're building this relationship, it's vital to not overpraise the puppy. By overpraising the pup, they lose their concept of earning praise. Pretty soon, you'll start adding pressure to training scenarios and force them to conquer scary tasks that will test their will to please. The reward is your praise and it must carry an exceptional amount of weight.
Terry has seen many dogs come and go and one truth remains the same. You can't train a dog to its full potential without a good foundation. The first few months at home are the building blocks that your future training must stand on. If you take your time and do the right things early on, then you will be rewarded in the future with a hardworking, loving companion who will sit by your side for many years.
For more information:
Terry Price- www.oakridge-kennels.com
Bob Owens- email@example.com