In order to determine what kind of retriever your puppy will be, will depend on the experience the puppy has before the age of six months. Starting early with the puppy makes a big difference in this ability to retrieve. If you do not have time to work with the puppy, retriever training is your next consideration. Puppy training is daily, consistent work.
1. Puppy’s do best with training when they are introduced to gentle obedience, manners, socializing and birds, being exposed to gunfire and decoys, and marking in various types of cover ( but only introduce these things gradually). Repetition and reward is the best program to introduce the puppy to. They become enthusiastic for retrieving and it builds their confidence. Puppies still need to have physical contact, learn house manners, and learn to socialize with the family and with strangers. Taking the puppy out in the public to parks, recreation areas, etc. will help build their confidence in strange places.
2. At Thunder Ridge Kennels, our puppies will heel, come quickly, and sit, by the time they are 6 months old. They will respond to a “here” command. Although puppies develop at different rates, just like people, they should be able to mark, retrieve and hunt the area. The puppies are very responsive to birds and can be doing simple doubles and retrieving at many distances on land and in water.
3. By the age of six months, puppies will know manners and do not jump up or mouth people’s hands. They understand the “kennel up” command and the difference between learning and socializing. It is much easier on the puppy if they learn at an early age, what is expected of them. With proper training, you will see how much your puppy/dog loves his “job” and what he is designed to do. They enjoy pleasing their owners and being rewarded for a great job.
4. Each puppy/dog is started with basic obedience. He is introduced to birds and retrieves. The next step in training is force fetch. The dog is taught how to retrieve in a disciplined manner. Once the dog is retrieving nicely, he is taught marking. The dog must accurately navigate to the area of the fallen bird in various types of cover, including water. The dog must also learn these techniques in different wind conditions and weather conditions. In this respect, he is developing the ability to use his nose to find the bird. The dog learns to sit quietly until he is sent on a retrieve. Live fliers are used in training so the dog is on an actual hunt throughout his training in the field.
5. Training Time: It is preferred to have the dog at least three months (minimum) in order to establish good hunting behavior as well as continued training. During this time, the dog is allowed ample practice time to develop his hunting ability and to become more reliable.
6. By the age of 6 months, most retrievers are ready to begin their formal training. Most dogs can reach their level of consistency in three to four months of training, although some require more. It is preferred that the owner plan to spend at least one training session with us before taking the dog home. It is important to learn how to continue training in a consistent manner and keep the dog in tune to all he has worked for. Remember, the dog is working very hard to please you.