By Jeremy Hunt
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
My labrador has wanted to retrieve from a very early age but now his technique has gone to pieces. I dont want to deter his enthusiasm.
JEREMY HUNT SAYS: Although this can be very frustrating do not chastise your gun dog for this.
Any correction applied to retrieving at this stage could inflict long-term damage - so resist at all costs.
If you get angry with him he will simply assume that you don’t want him to bring the dummy back - he cannot make the assumption that it is the way in which he brings it back that is incorrect.
Some may advise giving him a break from retrieving for a week or so and that may well help.
I would suggest you initially ensure you undertake your training in a confined space so that you can easily channel the gun dog back towards you.
If he will sit and stay I would suggest you put him in this position and then walk only a few yards in front of him and place the dummy on the ground.
That way you will remove the excitement normally created by throwing it.
Undertake all of this in a quiet and subdued manner in a place where he will not be distracted.
To enforce your control over the situation before you actually send him I suggest you place your hands on him - say around his chest - and grip him gently but firmly as a means of focusing him on the job.
Once you feel he is calm and concentrating give him a clear command (directional and verbal).
Then encourage him back towards you with open arms but don’t go overboard with the encouragement.
Keep it businesslike. The aim is to make this a more clinical exercise.
Don’t be in a hurry to grab the dummy; encourage him to deliver it calmly to your hand.
This can take time but be patient with him. Once the mechanics of the retrieve have been mastered you should be able to return to retrieving thrown dummies in the normal way.
Please do not rush this piece of training; your gun dog clearly has enthusiasm for the job.
Harness his ability and do nothing to undermine his keenness to retrieve, despite this training hiccup.
Mark Whitehouse says: Taking on the role of picker...
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