A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the beginning stages of training your dog to retrieve water fowl. This week I will focus on the advanced handling techniques, which will help you finish your working dogs routine.
Dogs don't train at the same rate, so the techniques taught in the first column should be completed first before moving on to the more advanced training. Of the three retrievers I have owned, the first was cross-eyed and therefore unable to take a mark properly. I realized rather quickly that he would never be able to work properly. He was only put through the obedience portion of bird dog training, but was taught all the useless house tricks like shaking with both paws, to speak, balancing treats on his nose until told to get them, to roll over, play hide and seek and many others to keep him busy. I was surprised how many commands he was able to remember. Although useless in the field, he was a friendly and mild -mannered house dog.
My second lab was my current dog’s mother. She was the polar opposite from my first – Bob Barker – and was stubborn as a mule. She had the attitude of an alpha dog, which made training quite difficult. She was a chocolate lab named Cocoa, which was later changed to Cocoa Loco because of her crazy nature. I learned food rewards were her weakness. She took almost two years to train, but in the end became quite a good working dog.