Retriever Puppy Training Tips
Retriever puppies are genetically fit for hunting and retrieving skills, but you have to consistently train a puppy throughout its life in order to teach it how to best utilize its instincts for future hunts. Training a retriever puppy the right way from the get-go is crucial to avoiding training difficulties later on. With the first half year of your retriever puppy’s life being the most critical stage of habit development, it is important to start implementing training techniques as soon as possible. Typically the best age to start training is around 7-8 weeks of age, but this may vary depending on breed.
Some of the skills and habits that your puppy must learn include: the ability to be quiet on command, swimming, proper retrieving techniques, and the ability to not be gun-shy. Following some of these tips will help your puppy learn the habits that will hopefully develop it into a highly trained and intelligent retriever.
Give Your Puppy Plenty of Positive Human Contact
Your puppy should have plenty of positive human contact from a young age. This allows your retriever puppy to develop a bond and trust with people that will serve you well later on. This positive human contact will also make a retriever puppy more receptive to training. It is equally important to never be angry or short-tempered with your puppy, as this will create a lot of fear and negative association with people. Reward your puppy’s good behavior with treats and praise, and focus more on positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement.
Balance Training With Fun
When it comes to puppy training, you do not want to be too harsh or allow your puppy to roam wildly as it wills. A good balance of training and fun is best for a retriever puppy. You can start training your puppy at a young age to retrieve. Playing retrieving games 2 to 3 times per day is recommended with a toy or a rolled up clean towel. As your retriever puppy gets old you can vary the difficulty of the retrieving games by adding more distance or throwing the object into some type of cover. Start slowly with all types of retriever training and gradually increase the repetition and difficulty of training.
Training Your Puppy to Not Be Gun-shy
Gunfire training is extremely important to avoid gun-shyness in your retriever puppy. Gunfire training should not be taken lightly, as it is very difficult to undo gun-shyness in a dog. For proper gunfire training it is recommended to consult with a trainer or use an instructional guide. A common technique is to expose your puppy to increasingly loud noises over time. The noises should not be actual gunfire, but they might be a gunfire training recording or clanging pots and pans. This should not be done very often initially, perhaps every month, which is often enough for your puppy to get acclimated to these noises.
Water Training a Retriever Puppy
Retriever puppies innately love water, but you still have to gradually introduce them to it. Many puppies will not have any trouble with learning how to swim, however there are some that might struggle initially. If it has initial difficulties with swimming this is nothing to be worried about, as the vast majority of puppies will eventually learn how to swim.
Start with very shallow water and get your puppy acclimated to first being wet. Try holding your puppy in slightly deeper water to see how it responds. If your puppy shows that it can handle swimming while in your hands, try calling your puppy to come to you from land while you wait in deeper water. If it is comfortable with swimming, it will have no problem swimming towards you.
Retriever Training Takes Time Patience and Consistent Effort
Retriever puppies are built to be hunters, but without proper and consistent training from a young age they will have difficulties learning advanced hunting skills later on. With some of these basic training tips, your puppy will be better suited to learn how to perform more advanced field and retrieving training. Training your retriever puppy takes patience, time, and consistent effort, but the reward is having a reliable and skilled retriever to accompany you on your hunts.