Hello, fellow dog enthusiasts! It’s Joanne here. This week I chatted with LWDG Group Expert Claire Denyer and LWDG Featured Expert Abbie Reid bringing you a fresh take on our latest podcast episode, “The Journey Of Raising A Retriever.” If you’re navigating the exciting and sometimes challenging path of raising a retriever puppy, this one’s for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Let puppies explore and have fun while training, don’t be too strict too early
  • Train each puppy according to their unique personality and motivations
  • Proof behaviours in different environments, don’t assume they’ll generalise
  • Build a strong bond so the puppy wants to work with you
  • Reward and praise for small successes, don’t wait for perfection

Let the Adventure Begin: Embracing Puppyhood

First things first: let’s talk about the importance of letting your puppy explore and have fun during training. Remember, they’re just babies! Being too strict too early can dampen their spirit. Each puppy is a unique individual with their own personality and motivations. It’s crucial to tailor your training to match their style.

These dogs are not just smart, they’re super clever and full of fun – a real joy to be around. But, don’t let their playful nature fool you; they’re more than just a pretty face. Retrievers come with an in-built “fetching” software. It’s like they’re born knowing how to pick things up – it’s in their genes! This instinct is what makes them stand out, but it’s our job as their trainers to guide them on what to do next. It’s not just about fetching; it’s about what happens after. Do they bring it back? Do they drop it or hold onto it? 

That’s where the real training kicks in. Understanding this innate trait and harnessing it in the right way is what makes working with Retrievers so rewarding and, let’s face it, a bit of a fun challenge too!

Podcast Episode:

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Building Bonds and Breaking Habits

Retrievers are smart and lively, but they do come with their quirks, like their instinctual love for picking things up. It’s our job to guide them on what to do after they’ve retrieved something. And what if your pup picks up something they shouldn’t? Stay calm, and trade it for a toy. It’s all about teaching them what’s acceptable in a patient, understanding way.

When it comes to preventing unwanted retrieving, keeping your cool is key. If your puppy grabs something they shouldn’t, don’t make a fuss. Stay calm and swap it out for a toy. It’s like a little trade-off – “drop that slipper, here’s your favourite squeaky toy instead.” And remember, don’t turn it into a game of chase; we want to keep it low-key, treating it just like we would if they fetched a dummy.

Also, a bit of human training goes a long way. We need to be mindful about what we leave within paw’s reach. Think of it like puppy-proofing your home – if it’s not meant to be fetched, keep it out of sight.

Now, encouraging retrieving is a whole different ball game, and it really depends on your pup’s personality. Some are natural fetchers, while others might need a bit more encouragement. The secret? Find out what makes their tail wag. Is it a tasty treat, a fun game, or some good old praise? Use that to motivate them.

Start simple with the retrieves. No need to get too fancy at first – short and straightforward does the trick. This helps keep them focused and makes the learning process enjoyable for both of you. So, keep it fun, keep it rewarding, and watch as your retriever turns into a fetching superstar!

The Art of Retrieving

Retrievers might be natural fetchers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need training. Discover what motivates your puppy – is it food, play, or praise? Start with simple, short retrieves and gradually build up complexity. This approach ensures they don’t get overwhelmed and can enjoy each success.

Proofing and Patience

Proofing each new skill in various environments is crucial. Dogs don’t generalise well, so it’s important to re-proof often. And remember, don’t rush! Have realistic expectations and focus on your pup’s unique needs and timeline.

Proofing is a crucial step in training our four-legged friends. It’s all about making sure each new skill they learn is rock solid, no matter where they are. You see, dogs aren’t great at generalising; they might nail a command in your garden but then look baffled when asked to do the same thing in the park. That’s why it’s important to practise these skills in various settings – your house, the park, during walks – mixing it up helps them understand that ‘sit’ means ‘sit’ everywhere, not just at home.

And while we’re at it, it’s vital to re-proof often. Just because they’ve got it right a couple of times doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Regular practice in different places ensures that these skills become second nature to them.

Now, when it comes to having realistic expectations, it’s key to remember that every puppy is different. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing your pup to others, but what works for one dog might not work for another. Focus on your own puppy’s pace and needs. They’re not on our human timetable; they’re on ‘puppy time’, which can be a bit more laid-back and spontaneous. So, patience is the name of the game. By understanding and accepting this, training becomes a more enjoyable and less stressful experience for both of you. Remember, it’s not a race; it’s a journey you’re both on together.

Celebrating the Wins

Finally, let’s cherish those memorable moments. Whether it’s an amazing blind retrieve into water or a hilarious mix-up like fetching a dead fish instead of a dummy, these are the stories that make the journey so rewarding. Listen to the podcast to hear these incredibly fun stories! 

Wrapping Up

Raising a retriever is a journey filled with learning, bonding, and a fair share of laughter. As we always say in the Ladies Working Dog Group, it’s about enjoying the adventure with your canine companion. Keep training, keep bonding, and most importantly, keep having fun!

If you missed the episode or want to revisit some tips, make sure to give it a listen. And as always, let’s keep supporting each other on this incredible journey of dog ownership. Until next time, happy training!


What’s Your Gundog Goddess Style?

Who’s ready for some extra fun? Discover your unique approach to training with our “Which Gundog Goddess Are You?” quiz. You don’t want to miss this one

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