COMPREHENSIVE LABRADOR TRAINING PROGRAM
Adapting a program that will address the needs of each dog and their characteristics, our program must have certain essential characteristics. The sound fundamentals are essential to your dog’s reliable performance and the best possible outcome will always depend upon building a dog’s confidence in their work. Of course this is equally true for competition dogs and hunting dogs and our training is consistent for both venues. How do we do this? Here’s how:
- Building confidence training each dog at their own pace and advancing through commands and concepts with consistent performance.
- Maintaining standards for material the dog has already learned, without adding unneeded pressure or corrections which will complicate the learning processes.
- We begin with trying to get the dog to retrieve birds without any pressure or requirements for performance.
- We teach basic obedience commands.
- We force-fetch all dogs teaching them step by step the proper way to recover, carry, and deliver a dummy or bird.
- Then we introduce variations of retrieving that every successful retriever must learn to master. For example, retrieving from cover, from water, through decoys, out of blinds with gunfire and calls, and finding and recovering different game birds.
- We build up the distance and the level of challenge success to convince the dog that wherever a bird goes down, they can find and retrieve it.
- As soon as possible in each dog’s program, we structure training sessions that assure that the dog is in self-control and proper behavior.
- Another strategy that we use is transition the dog back to their owners by working cooperatively with the owners in our training program to get dogs to work reliably for their owners after the dog has finished the fundamentals. This helps the dog learn that there is a “right way” to retrieve, independent of who is handling them.
LABRADOR PUPPY TRAINING PROGRAM
A puppy’s range of experiences before they reach the age of six months plays an critical role in determining their ultimate potential as a retriever and companion. If you want your puppy to have an advantage in their development as a competition retriever, or if you do not have the time to socialize and train your puppy, consider retriever puppy training.
Puppy training includes the following essential elements:
- Introduction to basic obedience training,
- Introduction to birds,
- exposure to gunfire,
- Daily marking practice in various types of cover, terrain and water.
Training is based on continuous repetition and the appropriate reward which will produce maximum confidence and enthusiasm for retrieving. All puppies receive an abundance of physical contact and are held and petted regularly. They spend time in the house learning house manners. They also are exposed to and trained to crowds, downtown areas, public areas, parks, to travel in an automobile, and many other experiences that will build their confidence around traffic, strange noises, and unfamiliar people. Visitors to the kennel are always encouraged to socialize the puppies.
By the age of six months, most puppies in the training program will:
- Heel, sit, and come when called quickly, happily, and reliably.
- They will respond immediately to a whistled “here” command at distances of 50-100 yards.
- Their enthusiasm for birds will be well-developed.
- The range at which puppies mark and retrieve at that age varies with their rate of development, but we teach them all to move out with confidence on land or water, and to actively hunt the area of a fall.
- Many puppies are doing simple doubles and retrieving at distances over 100 yards in water (weather permitting) and 200 yards on land by this time.
- Also by the age of six months, puppies we train have good manners and do not jump up, mouth people’s hands, or barge into anyone or barge through gates and doors.
- They know their names and to “kennel” on command.
- And to understand and respect the teaching-learning relationship.
We will accept puppies for training at the age of seven weeks and older.
GUN DOG LABRADOR TRAINING
A well-trained gun dog sits quietly and patiently at your side while waiting for birds, waits to retrieve until sent, goes with enthusiasm, finds and retrieves the birds, and delivers them unmolested to hand. They are also obedient, comfortable with gunfire; know the difference between a decoy and a dead bird, and rides calmly in your truck and boat.
To obtain this level of performance we follow a series of well established and process oriented training procedures. Here is how we start:
- First we begin with basic obedience, building up the dog’s retrieving desire if necessary with play retrieves, and introduce birds;
- When the time is right we force fetch, or teach the dog step by step, the when’s and how’s to retrieve and to do it in a disciplined manner;
- When your dog is retrieving cleanly, we work on marking, teaching the dog to accurately negotiate the area of a fallen bird. This will include areas of varying terrain, cover, water, and varying wind conditions. This will help in developing the dog’s ability to use his or her nose to hunt up a bird;
- We then steady the dog by teaching them to sit quietly until they are sent on a retrieve;
- We then begin shooting live fliers.
At this point we have taught the dog a lot and the best thing for your dog is continuous training to establish solid behavior habits. During this additional “practice time,” dogs continue to develop their marking proficiency and hunting ability, becoming more adaptable as well as more reliable.
In most cases it is at this point that they learn simple double retrieves and are able to mark well in almost any situation. The average dog can usually achieve the level of a consistent, eager, and obedient gun dog in about five months of training. Some need less and some, of course, require more.
We encourage the owners to plan to spend at least one training session with us at or before pick-up time, to learn how to carry on training in a consistent manner and make the most of all that their dog has learned.
BLIND RETRIEVES & HANDLING TRAINING PROGRAM
By definition, a handled retriever can recover birds he has not seen fall, with the aid of whistle and hand signals. This is particularly useful if you hunt in areas where your dog is unable to mark the falls, or if you plan to run your dog in various events. You will want your dog to be able to do a blind retrieve.
Handling your dog will be immensely valuable when you or your hunting companions shoot a number of birds down at one time and your dog cannot mark them all, or when a bird has moved or drifted. With a cast, or hand signal, your retriever can recover the fallen birds.
The ability to do a blind retrieve involves teaching your dog several skills. A dog must know how to take casts:
- Left, right, and back.
- He must understand, when he is set up, to respond to the command of “back”,
- He must always go when he is sent, even when the conditions are less that optimal.
- He must be able to “take a line” and hold the line. In other words, to go in the direction his handler points him without “breaking” to left or right.
This is very important because a dog views directions in relation to terrain, a shoreline configuration, and wind directions. Consequently a dog must be taught through practice and under the different kinds of conditions he is likely to encounter, that a cast is their best friend when it comes to finding fallen birds that were outside of their view.Our program teaches these skills. Under normal circumstances we follow the following process:
- Force-fetching with “pile work,” teaches your dog to line repeatedly to a pile of dummies and to cast right and left while doing it. We follow this similar pattern in the water by teaching the force on back and handle while in water.
- We begin running blinds, using “dummy” blinds to establish that when we give the command, “Back,” that the dog has full confidence that there is something out there. This approach gives a dog that runs blinds confidence and with confidence comes hard running and enthusiastic dog work.
The time needed to teach your dog to do blind retrieve depends upon both your dog’s aptitude and what you ultimately want him to do. Blinds across water and beyond a shore tend to be significantly more difficult than the standard 50-yard retrieves in open water. We may be able to meet your goals in as little as two months of work on blind retrieves, or it may take considerably longer. After a couple of month we will have a good idea of what time it may take to finish them.