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Puppy Retrieving: Getting Started
Having a new puppy is always exciting and fun. If you intend to take them hunting with you once hunting season starts, it's important to start training as soon as possible. Puppy retrieving should be a great experience for both you and your pup, and here’s how to get started.
In order for your puppy to learn correctly, both of you must be engaged with one another with minimal distractions. Focus on one thing at a time. Make your puppy want to retrieve through love and praise.
Calling By Name
Calling your dog by its name is one of the fundamentals for retrieving. Make your dog come to you by calling its name and only that name. They will soon recognize that when you call their name, it means to come immediately. This is also known as recall.
After your puppy comes to the sound of their name, you can begin training them to retrieve. Find a decoy or just something that resembles one. You can even choose a training dummy or a sock. Whichever you decide to use, shake it in front of the dog. Hold them back with your hand to prevent them from getting it immediately. Throw it a short distance away and let them get it.
You should repeat this step many times, throwing the dummy further and further with each time. The puppy should get the idea that they are supposed to go and retrieve it. Make sure they don’t lose interest by letting them take frequent breaks.
Do not take the object away from your puppy. Let them play with it as long as they want, but once they get bored of it, make them want to chase it again. Hold them back as you shake it and toss it a little ways away.
If your puppy doesn’t want to pick something up, try other objects. Find something that they want to chase. Once you have found the thing they enjoy chasing, they will want to retrieve it periodically.
Your puppy will soon know that when you throw a decoy or something similar they are supposed to go get it. Make obstacles for your puppy to create a challenge and reinforce what they have learned. Puppies are learning machines and creating challenges to test them, are very beneficial.
It’s important to praise your puppy after each toss. They should feel appreciated and confident in their retrieving and it’s your job to reinforce these qualities. Don’t take them for granted, but give them a challenge as well.
Now that your puppy knows how to retrieve, it's time to make them wait for your cue. Hold them while they’re sitting and throw the object. Make them wait, then say your keyword as you release them. Often times your pup won’t want to wait, but it’s important to let them understand when the right to retrieve is.
Training your puppy to retrieve can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your puppy. Both of you will learn confidence, diligence, and satisfaction. Teaching your puppy early on is very beneficial in honing the craft of retrieving.