Duck Dog Tip of the Week: Introducing your Pup to Training Dummy
We all hope to instill a sense of drive in our puppies that they’ll carry with them into the field as they mature. The first steps include introducing your pup to his training dummy and getting him excited to play with it. This can be achieved with short sessions of playful retrieves in the hallway at home or in the yard. Limit your sessions to one or two minutes of fun retrieves, and then place the dummy out of reach until next time — leaving your pup wanting more. The training bumper should never be used as a chew toy. Consistently leaving your puppy desiring another retrieve with his bumper will keep his excitement and focus during your short play sessions, setting the stage for the more formal training to come.
Great advice! Good way to bring out a pup’s instinct to retrieve. But I take it one step further. When I’m able to watch and observe a puppy in our house I leave out things for it to discover. That might be one of it’s toys, a shoe or slipper, and best of all yet some socks or underwear. Those have scent on them and are very intriguing to a puppy. As the pup walks through the house it discovers these items and I then encorage it to pick them up and bring them to me. It becomes a fun game for it. Additionally, I take that training a step further beyond that. As the guy who instructs what’s called the “Puppy & Obedience” class for the Fox Valley Retriever Club the biggest issue I have to deal with is the puppy or young dog that drops the dummy. Oh yes, there’s force-training down the road to fix that but most of the members in that class are new to training a retriever and the pup they have is usually their first. Putting a dog through force-training is daunting to them and they pretty much don’t want any part of it.They also could hire a pro to do it, but that often times involves extra money that’s not in their family budget.
So here’s my solution to the problem of a puppy or young retriever spitting out a dummy. When the pup goes for a retrieve and is returning to you, encourage it to hold onto the dummy or whatever object it has in its mouth by squatting down or sitting down and open your arms and cuddle the puppy into you. Let it hold onto the dummy or object while you hold onto the puppy and lavishly pet and praise it. After doing that for a bit then slip your fingers under its collar and take the dummy or whatever it has in its mouth. Again, make it a fun game.
Over the years that I’ve owned and trained my retrievers I’ve learned that retrievers retrieve for themselves. Whatever they pick up they want to make their own or think they own it. It’s their reward for making a retrieve. Their trophy, their possession. I’ve learned that if you let a pup or young dog keep and enjoy its trophy and have its moment of glory it goes a long way to preventing it from dropping a dummy. Eventually doing that becomes habit and the dogs just don’t drop the dummy. So much so that the last four dogs that I’ve owned never had to be force-trained. Their training to hold a dummy became an enjoyable and fun experience for both them and myself and there was no down time in their training because of force-training.
Great content! I love it! Thank you for these duck tips for dogs!