Posts Tagged ‘retriever training’

Dave says Pavel is treeing squirrels and mustelids,  And he also has flushed a pheasant and pursued a grebe in the water.

So Dave is going to train his laika to be a multipurpose gun dog. Hence this equipment:

Photo by Dave Parsons. 

Photo by Dave Parsons.


Read Full Post »

This dog has  natural retrieving instinct. He is a working line golden retriever:


With dogs that have retrieving instinct, the actual retrieving act is reward enough, so the whole training process can start at an entirely different level.

At one point in the video, you can see a very young puppy responding to a human pointing gesture!

Here he is starting out:


And yes, I’m aware that golden puppies of this type and of this age look something like long-haired dachshunds.

Read Full Post »

When a dog mouths a bird, after he picks it up, and starts to come to you mouthing it, follow these rules: Take a strap about a foot long, and calling your dog up to you. strap him across the nose two or three times.

Do this several times a day, at home, till he dodges the strap. Always hold him by the collar. After this send him out for the training sack and when he picks it up say “Hold,” and walk toward him and shake the strap at him. He will soon have confidence in you and will know that he will get strapped across the nose. Repeat this several times, then take a dead bird and throw it out, give him the same lesson he had with the sack, and if he offers to mouth the bird, strap him across the nose.

Then take him to the field and send him after a bird and repeat the lesson, if needful; but after a few days you will never have any more trouble with him on that score. The great secret in training a dog is to put him under command and not have him afraid of you.

From How to train Dogs and Cats by Frederick Erb, Jr. (1904).

I’m not going to comment on this method, but I’m sure it works (if you have a dog with very, very strong retrieving instinct.)

Making sure that a dog isn’t afraid of you may be the toughest part (and biggest drawback) of the method.

Read Full Post »


The logic behind having a young puppy work ducks is that they are still in their critical period for socialization and may not have yet developed a distaste for an oily bird.

Check out the breeder’s website to find out more.

As I’ve said before the poodle-type dog is the oldest retriever. Gervase Markham in 1621 described how to use a poodle-type dog (called a water rug or an English rough water dog) as a retriever (including how to clip them!)

Read Full Post »

From memphislabrador

Part II and Part III

Check out his DuckHill Kennels, The Positive Duck Dogs group, and his Retriever Training Site.

In that last website, you can get a feel for his views on how to best train, breed, and test retrievers, which are, let’s just say, a bit heterodox.

And I have a certain amount of love for heterodoxy and iconoclasm.

Read Full Post »

These come from Robert Milner’s retriever training videos from the 1980’s.

Part I

Part II

From thrasher123.

Force-breaking or training the “conditioned” retrieve is an example of negative reinforcement training. The dog receives pressure in terms of the light toe pinch, which is relieved by the dog grabbing the dowel.

It has become commonplace to train retrievers for this way. Part of the reason for the rise of this method is that breeding for dogs that naturally retrieve is quite hard to do. If your main interest is producing dogs that line well and run hard, you may have to neglect some of the mouthing behavior in the dogs. And that’s why the conditioned retrieve is so much a part of retriever training.

Milner argues in this article that breeding for trials has somewhat resulted in dogs that have retrieving issues. In this country, we have replaced breeding for a natural soft mouth and good delivery to training for it.

That’s why he uses British working line Labs which have been bred for the proper temperament, instinct, and mouth. They aren’t the fastest, hard-charging dogs that you associate with American working-line Labs.  But they have a moderate working temperament.

Also, in British working lines, the “fox-red” color of yellows is somewhat more common. This color is quite uncommon in most American field and show lines. I think it is a lovely color. It is the color we associate with golden retrievers in this country, and the fact that Labradors carry the genes to produce this color merely adds  more evidence to show that goldens and Labs once shared a gene pool.

I find Milner’s philosophy about breeding and testing retrievers very similar to my own. He is very correct that American field line Labs are often too much dog for the average person to handle. They are often wild and hyper dogs that are really hard to focus and train. However, once trained, they are really stylish performers.

However, I don’t think that this is the same problem that exists in goldens. Goldens are being bred for the other extreme. They’re becoming too sedate, and they are losing their instincts entirely.

So I just thought I’d show you how conditioned retrieves are done, and what the relative discomfort that most dogs feel when they are trained. This discomfort could be avoided if we bred for better retrieving instinct and for greater biddability in the dogs. However, that’s a systematic change that has to take place over the gene pools of all of these breeds.

Also, please do not tell me that natural retrievers that are easily taught to retrieve to hand don’t exist. I know they exist. The Brits rely upon them. My first dog was one of these dogs.

And I erroneously believed that all retrievers were like her. And then I got my second dog that was half English show golden, and, well, I learned my lesson.

Read Full Post »

This dog is being trained using positive reinforcement methods.

From LindsayandLumi. This user has a wikibook on this type of training for retrievers.

This dog is being trained using an e-collar and  positive reinforcement. BTW, e-collars are no worse than the invisible fence collars.

From jwp1002

The former method is still in its experimental stages. The latter is the more common method used and the one that most trainers use.

The dogs are in different stages of training, so don’t let that confuse you.

It is easier to train a retriever to English trial methods using the former method. The Brits believe retrievers are bred and then honed through training. Americans believe that retrievers are bred but then conditioned to retrieve. The Brits believe that the dogs should find every dropped bird on their own with some direction. Americans believe that directed retrieves are the best way. And that’s why our trials are so different. Goldens tend to do better in British trials than their American counterparts do.  A golden won the International Gundog League’s retriever trial in 2006. The last one to do so was in 1982. The last National Field Champion golden in America was in the 1950’s.

Goldens and flat-coats evolved in the English system. That’s one reason why they often show setter-type quartering on their own. That’s very useful if you want a dog to find birds and do casts on its own. The golden is a very under-utilized upland game dog, and contrary to the advice often given, this breed is useful in retrieving form heavy cover. You just have to pluck the thorns, burrs, and beggar ticks out of their coat. But that’s a small sacrifice for using a dog with superior air scenting abilities. During English trials, in which hares, partridges, and pheasants are the game, a dog like this is of some use.

American trials are designed for waterfowl retrievers that sometimes have to retrieve the odd pheasant. The dogs take direction and are handled to their marks to a much larger extent than the British trial dogs are. The goal of the American trial is to test handling skills; the goal of the British trial is to test natural instincts that are honed through training. It’s a very different philosophy.

If we had a separate British trial system in North America, it is likely we would have a few goldens and other minority breeds do well in those. But for the American trial, the Labrador, which has been bred for generation after generation for trials, is the retriever of all retrievers. They are like maze-bright rats that have been bred for generations to run through mazes faster than the others. It is a breed that largely developed for the trials.

For regular gundog work, a dog trained the English way is more than suitable for the task at hand.

I’ve seen positive reinforcement create superb assistance dogs. I don’t see why the methods can’t eventually evolve to suit gundog trainers. It’s just going to take time to develop a system.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: