Fernfall Golden Retrievers Est 1980
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All these Articles were written by members of the Golden Retriever Club of Victoria Inc.and originally printed in The Guns and Sashes newsletter.
TRAINING TO RETRIEVE
If you have your dog to a
standard where it will sit, heel and stay then you can move on to teach it to
"come", initially without a retrieving dummy and then with one.
should have taken your young dog to at least basic obedience level at the local
obedience club or through the GRCV, in which case it should already be coming to
you on recall. Just in case you haven't, here are some basics; make your dog
'stay' or 'wait', (depending on your command routine), and move in front of it
several steps. Turn to face the
dog. If it moves off the 'stay',
gently but firmly take him back to the same spot and reinforce the 'stay'
command. Crouch down and open your
arms in an inviting way and call 'come' in a light easy voice.
As the dog runs to you, calmly gather it in, so it sits in front of you.
Don't be too strict or formal with a young dog - the formal structure of
recalls can fall in to place later. Give
it lots of pats and praise as you calm it down.
use the same routine teaching your dog to 'come' with a retrieving dummy.
You should already have played games with dummies quite separately - in
front of the TV, on the patio etc - the game of, 'take', 'hold', 'give'.
Put your dog in a 'stay' with the dummy in its mouth with the 'take'
command and make the recall command with voice or whistle.
The dog should come straight in to you.
a dog (particularly Goldens) will not run to you as keenly or strongly with a
dummy, as they do for a normal recall. It
is important that they learn to do this from the start and they may need extra
encouragement. In Retrieving Trials
style is important.
tips; raise the pitch of voice and level of excitement, run backwards until the
dogs breaks in to a run. Also, only
occasionally take the dummy from the dog straight after the recall.
Let it hold it for 10-20 seconds and it will usually just give it up,
without it even being aware, as it is lavished with praise for doing a good
recall. Sometimes, step back and
repeat the exercise without taking the dummy.
Sometimes after the recall, play the game of give, hold, and take, Don't
make it go to the heel position. This
can come later. Mix up the routine
as much as possible. Apart from
making it fun for the dog, if you are too predictable the dog may develop bad
habits such as dropping the dummy when it gets to you because it expects that
you want it, or not running to you because you will take the dummy. If the dog does drop the dummy don't scold it.
It may interpret that the reprimand is for doing the retrieve.
Pick up the dummy, place it in
the dogís mouth with the 'hold' instruction and encourage it to you.
dogs do not want to come with the dummy. They
may be confused about what is required, so reduce the distance.
Some dogs think itís a game of keepings off and will try to make you
chase them. Try to avoid this at
all costs, although with an older or dominant dog it may be necessary to chase
and scold it. Alternatively, tie
some light cord around its neck and as you call it in reel in the cord so that
the dog comes to you. If you have
problems, which are not solved by the above techniques, it is recommended that
you seek advice from a member of the working dog subcommittee.
your dog is doing the 'come' with the dummy, the next move is to have the dog at
heel and either you or someone else throws the dummy.
Wait until the dummy comes to a complete stop before you tell the dog to
'fetch'. As the dog comes to you
with the dummy, remember to use all the techniques you used with the 'come'
exercise. If the dog goes before it
is sent (breaks), don't scold it. Once
again, it may think you don't want it to retrieve and will become confused, slow
or disinterested. If this occurs
kneel down and gently hold the dog around the shoulders and have someone else
throw the dummy. The dog may
struggle for a few seconds. The
instant you feel it relax, let it go with the 'fetch' command.
It generally won't take long to correct this fault.
Also, try to vary the time period before you send the dog so it doesn't
anticipate your instruction. Don't
worry too much about this fault with a young dog - enthusiasm is a wonderful
attribute, which should not be discouraged.
purpose of Retrieving Trials for Gundogs is
to determine the relative merits of purebred retrievers in the field.
The tests are designed to simulate as near as possible the conditions for
which the dogs were bred. Since
trials are a simulation, no game is actually shot. The dogs are tested on both land and water on sighted (marks)
and unsighted (blind) retrieves.
function of a Retriever is to find and retrieve "fallen" game under
all conditions when ordered to do so. He
should walk at heel and sit quietly on command, and when sent, should retrieve
briskly and deliver gently to hand. Dogs are judged for their natural abilities,
including memory, intelligence, attention, nose, courage, perseverance and
style, as well as for the skills acquired through training, including
steadiness, control, responses to direction, and delivery, and the ability to
retrieve under all conditions. Game
must not be damaged or retrieved without having been ordered to do so.
A dog, which has all of these attributes, is of great value to its
handler and a credit to its breed.
a marked retrieve the dog is expected to mark the line and depth of the fall of
the bird. When instructed by the handler take a straight a line as possible and
complete the exercise without instruction from the handler. For a blind retrieve
a bird is hidden from view of the dog, however the handler knows the placement. On a blind retrieve the dog must obey their handler by taking
a line to the bird, by stopping to the whistle to take direction to the right or
left, back or return. The handler
of the dog is also under judgement and must not touch his dog or exhibit
Retrieving Trial is open to all breeds of Gundogs.
Trials consist of four Stakes with graduated degrees of difficulty and
eligibility requirements for the dog. The
first level, or Beginners Stake, includes two runs with marks of 50 to 60
metres, one across water and one on land over natural obstacles. The Novice
Stake has three runs. Each is a
mark of about 80 metres; one on land, one across water, and another in water,
with natural obstacles to test marking ability.
The first time that a dog completes all three retrieves it is eligible
for a Qualifying Certificate (QC). When
a dog has won three Novice Stakes it becomes mandatory to compete at the next
level of competition.
The next level is the
Restricted Stake, which has runs of about 80 metres but may include up to two
birds on each run and may include such things as 'double rises' and 'walk-ups'. Dogs must always pick up each bird in the order directed by
the judge. When a dog has won three
of these Stakes it is mandatory to compete in All Age. In the All-Age Stake, a
dog must complete three runs with up to three-birds in each run.
Distances. May be up to 150 metres and the runs are more testing and
complex than in the more. A dog is eliminated from competition if it fails to locate
the bird in a reasonable time, or picks up any bird out of order.
The winner of an All Age
event receives six championship points and when it has earned twelve
championship points is entitled to be called a 'Retrieving Trial Champion'. A dog may trial for a long time to earn those elusive first
places, and they are well deserved since they must compete against 'titled'
dogs, which can dominate the placings for years.
perform well in obedience trials as they have been bred to work with man.
They are high on the list of "trainable breeds" and are one of
the most stylish breeds to watch when working.
We have an active breed that are happiest when they are working and
obedience is a great way to occupy them whilst also making them even more
enjoyable to have around.
awards available in Obedience and the names of the exercises are:
Open Class Utility
Heel on lead
Stand for examination
Stand free for examination
Drop on recall Scent
Retrieve dumbbell on flat
dumbbell over high jump Speak
1 min Sit Stay
or Food Refusal,
3 min Down Stay
3 min Sit Stay handler out of sight
5 min Down Stay handler out of sight
Group Examination min down stays handler out
CD - Companion
CDX - Companion Dog Excellent
UD - Utility Dog
Note that there is also an
Encouragement class, which is as for Novice except there is no heel free and no
class does not have an award; its purpose is to give inexperienced trialers and
introduction. Encouragement class
is not offered at all trials.
exercises to be performed in Obedience Trials can be found in the appropriate
rule booklet available from the VCA for a small fee. It is important to read the miscellaneous sections of this
booklet, not just the part applicable to the class you wish to enter.
Much information relating to your conduct in the ring is found in these
sections. For each class level there is 200 points available, you must score 170
or more to pass. You must also get
at least 50% of the allocated points for every
exercise, so you can't fail one exercise completely and make up the points
somewhere else. You need three
passes under at least 2 different judges to obtain each title.
trials have a single check in time for all entrants. You must be checked in and have your bitch vetted (some clubs
also vet dogs, make sure you check) prior to the close of the allocated check in
time. The check in time normally
closes about 30 minutes before the trial starts.
to the start of the trial determine which ring you are in.
Check with the steward for your ring to see if any dogs have been
scratched or handlers are in other rings, these occurrences can dramatically
change the expected time for you to be ready with your dog.
Handlers with dogs in more than one ring can be judged out of order.
in the ring, LISTEN very carefully to the judge and do exactly what you are
more, no less!
remember... you're out there as a team to have fun. There'll always be another day to trial, but your
relationship with your dog should never suffer due to perceived poor performance
in the ring.
dominant dog is generally one that thinks it is the leader of the pack.
Sometimes it will accept that it is not the leader, but the second in
charge. So instead of dominating
the entire household it might behave for one person (generally the "man of
the house" or person who trains it the most), but run riot for other family
members and usually visitors as wen. This
type of behaviour is more likely to occur in dogs than bitches and happens less
frequently in the breeds that are bred for their desire to work with man (i.e.
Golden Retrievers). However that
does not mean to say that bitches in general and goldens in particular do not
ever have the problem. Just that it
is seen less often than in other categories of dogs, Dominant dogs behave in a
manner that we see as unacceptable, however from the dog's perspective it is
only behaving as the pack leader should. What
is required to turn your dog into an acceptable member of the household is for
the dog to be relegated to the bottom of the pack and to behave according to
it's new status.
How do 1 know if my dog is
Have a look at the
The dog will not allow physical handling; i.e.
brushing, bathing and veterinary visits are difficult.
The dog will either actively avoid the situation (not allow itself to be
caught, or constantly wriggle) or will act aggressively when placed in the
situation (baring teeth, growling, staring you down, etc.)
The dog constantly jumps on people
The dog growls when in possession of toys, food
bowl or other items it wishes to defend The dog acts aggressively when you
approach it's sleeping area
The dog acts aggressively when you approach it when
itís sleeping anywhere.
There are times when you are scared of the dog
(afraid to approach the dog, or remove a toy)
The dog growls (other than in play), stares you
down, and bares its teeth, snaps (with or without contact).
The dog constantly drags you along on the lead (other than a pup that
hasn't learnt better).
You may recognise one or
more of these items as applicable to your situation.
It's conceivable that you are prepared to live with the behaviour, for
instance if your dog only jumps, or only wriggles at bath time.
However if more than one
item from this list is familiar or if you are ever scared to approach the dog,
it's a fairly safe bet that you have a domination problem.
Resolution - Theory
around the need to get the dog to accept its placement as bottom of the
household pack. Note that there is
generally no need for what are perceived as "violent" measures, it's
purely a matter of retraining the dog to behave in a desirable manner once the
underlying cause of dominance is understood.
There is no "quick
fix" for this problem, the dog will no instantly accept that it has a new,
lower, status and behave accordingly.
Everyone in the household
must be prepared to reassess the way they interact with the dog and ensure that
any behaviour that is likely to be perceived by the dog as strengthening it's
position, is not indulged. Inconsistent
behaviour from different household members will be detrimental to the long-term
resolution of the problem.
Resolution - Practice
The following are some
ways to get started with redefining your dogs (bottom of the) pack status:
Always feed the dog after all members of the family have eaten
Ensure that the dog has a designated area in the house (do not allow it
the freedom to roam around all rooms). Ensure
that it stays in the area. 1 recommend that a mat is supplied and the dog
is required to stay upon it. If it
won't stay there, isolate it preferably outside.
Eventually it will prefer to stay on the mat than be isolated.
Ignore the dog when it solicits attention, give it attention only when
you choose to
Ensure that the dog is fed by the person that is most dominated by it
Teach the dog to drop and command him into that position whenever
he acts aggressively.
Ensure he drops before being fed. Break
his meal into smaller portions and make him drop before allowing him to cat each
portion. If he won't drop, don't
feed him (don't physically force him to drop).
Wait an hour and try again. A
hungry dog is more likely to want to please, and getting the dog to assume the
position of its own volition is more effective (and less dangerous!) than
forcing him down.
Reward the dog for allowing its food to be removed by adding something
extra nice to the removed bowl and immediately replacing it.
The dog will learn that removing the bowl is not a threatening
Teach the dog "give" and reward it's "giving" with
something better than the original item ... a nicer toy, food, a retrieve etc.
Leave a collar and long lead (say 12 feet) on the dog when it is
supervised. If it misbehaves you
are able to correct it without having to go too close and risking exacerbating
the situation. For instance if the
dog won't remain on its mat, you are able to grab the lead and drag the dog to
the isolation area (preferably outside).
Ensure that the dog always waits for people to go through doorways first
regularly touch your dog all over or groom it.
Reward any progress towards compliance.
DO NOT: -
Never allow the dog to jump on anyone.
Do not play "tug of war" games with the dog; the dominant dog
sees this as a surreptitious way to gain supremacy.
It's not a game, its warfare. If
the dog wins he moves another rung up the pack hierarchy.
Do not attempt to physically dominate the dog (i.e. rolling it over,
taking it's toy, forcing it to be brushed) unless you are working under the
supervision/instruction of an experienced problem dog instructor.
There is every possibility that a dog that previously was content to warn
you not to come closer, will decide that you are too much of a threat and launch
a full blown attack. Never take the risk. If
the dog behaves inappropriately, isolate it.
As a pack animal isolation is one of the best tactics with dominant dogs.
Do not allow the dog out of isolation until it is willing to drop on
Do not, under any circumstances, allow the dog in your sleeping area
Do not avoid it's sleeping area, make an effort to regularly walk through
it's bedding even pick it up by day and put it somewhere out of reach
Do not allow the dog to pull on the lead when walking. Whenever the dog pulls on the lead, stop.
Do not allow forward progress until the dog decides to walk at your pace.
Do not allow the dog to "own" property (i.e. toys).
You may give it a toy when you choose, remove it when you consider that
the play session has ended.
Many of these actions may
seem draconian, however they are necessary for a truly dominant dog. Use your common sense and know your own dog, such
strict measures may not be necessary with a pup that is just "testing the
limits". However always be
aware that any dog, even a pup, can be slowly climbing the pack hierarchy
without your being aware of it. It
is an easier problem to nip in the bud than resolve afterwards.
Many dog training and behaviour books have advice
on dealing with dominant dogs. If
at any time you are overly concerned about your dog's behaviour particularly
regarding aggressive behaviour, do not hesitate to contact a professional
problem dog trainer.
new pup has arrived and the household is all excited.
It is important before the pup arrives to establish the ground rules with
the family. Obviously house rules
and manners for the pup need to be defined i.e. Is the pup allowed in the house,
if so which rooms, who will feed and oversee training etc.
You must have uniform rules so that consistency is maintained and the pup
does not become confused. After the
pup has the general rules in its mind you can start with the basic retrieving
queries I receive are from owners who want to correct problems now the dog is
older, so lets get it right first time around.
Then all we have to do is re- enforce it from time to time.
a general rule if you want your dog to retrieve.
tug of war games with the pup. This
will make the pup reluctant to give up the retrieved article.
Ball they will soon learn to drop the ball and chase it as it rolls down the
sticks or foreign objects to retrieve. (However in the early training an article
they love to carry is OK. A dog
that has retrieved sticks in their endeavours to please you while retrieving may
pick up a stick instead of the required item.
it short and simple.
the fun begins. We must not do any
formal training with our pup. All
training should be done in a playful manner.
I have found the best place to train a pup is while you are on the floor
or ground. Do not tower over him.
Most pups love to jump on you and bite your ears, take advantage of this
time and bond with him and slip a little training in.
By now there will be an object in the house the pup loves to carry.
Using this object, tease him with it, excite him, and let him grab it.
The sit, come, hold and give, fetch command can all be introduced in this
playful period. The object the pup
is to retrieve should be a suitable size and weight.
He will become bored quickly so don't over do it, and make sure the pup
is not tired before you start.
TRAINING FOR OBEDIENCE
The building blocks
It is important for
puppies to start learning household rules and basic etiquette from the moment
they come home. Having said that,
it is even more important that the dog is raised in a positive environment where
it obeys out of a desire to please you rather than out of fear.
A fearful dog will not be nearly as pleasant a dog, and will not learn as
much or as quickly as one that's treated as a member of the family from the
start, that includes a measure of discipline, understanding and love.
There is an awful lot of "teaching" that can be done in the
guise of games for the pup, and we all know they love to play!
Toilet training should not
be difficult. This trick is not in
punishing the accidents but preventing them from occurring.
Puppies need to go out after eating and playing and immediately upon
waking. They should be taken out
immediately after these events, 5 minutes later is too late.
They should also be taken out every 20 or 30 minutes that they are in the
house. This should ensure that the
pup is given plenty of opportunities to perform in the required area and reduce
the chances of accidents occurring in the house.
When the pup is in the desired area (try an encourage the dog to stay in
the one area of the garden to make
avoiding "the landmines easier") encourage it to perform by using a
simple word in a gentle tone. Make
sure it's a word that won't be used in another context (the guide dogs use
"quick" which has numerous other applications and can be confusing)
and repeat it until the pup performs. When
it performs make sure you tell it what a clever puppy it is... even if you have
had to wait 10 minutes in the rain! Don't just lob the dog outside and hope for the best, it will
most probably hang around the back door and wait to be let back in.
Should an accident occur in the house, do
NOT "rub the dogs nose in it", hit the dog (with a newspaper or
anything else), or reprimand the pup harshly.
Make some disapproving noises along the lines of "Yuck, I'll
need to clean that up" as you take the pup outside.
I don't believe in repeating the chosen word as you put it out, it's
clearly not going to perform (having just emptied on the carpet) so why give it
a command that you know will be ignored? Putting
the dog out with a few quiet disapproving words will help to let it know that
the action was unpopular, the isolation (which doesn't have to last long) will
reinforce the words. Remember that
if the dog had an accident in the house it means that you didn't take it out often enough.
Be more diligent and the training will take care of itself, pups will
naturally prefer to go to the toilet outside.
This need not be taught in
the formal obedience competition sense of making the dog come in, sit and then be sent to heel.
For the household dog all that matters is that the dog reliably returns
close enough to be put on lead whenever called. Like everything else we do with the pup, we take this in nice
small steps and try to build on success rather than push to the point of
failure. Have another member of the
family hold the puppy while you show it the food bowl (complete with food!) and
walk away a short distance. You
call the dog while the other person lets it go, praise the pup and allow it to
have the food when it arrives. You
can use a favourite toy or small food treats to encourage the dog to come to you
throughout the day. Always try to
do it with young pup when he is already paying attention, this increases the
chance that he will come. Make sure
you call him in an encouraging tone and bend down to make yourself a less
dominating shape. Always praise the dog when he comes. Never call the dog
to you to reprimand it for something else, coming to you should always be a
pleasant experience for the dog (if you must
the, go and get it). Increase
the degree of difficulty of the recall slowly.
At first do it only in the house or yard when you have food or a toy and
the dog is paying attention. Then
try it when the dog is wandering vaguely around but not absorbed in another
activity, then graduate to having the toy or food available intermittently (vary
the availability of it to keep the dog on it's toes).
Then start calling the dog when it is busy with something else, then move
to the local park and go back to no distractions and regular reward etc.
Take it slowly, the dog should be praised for success rather than berated
for failure. Be sure to build good
foundations for future behaviour.
Whenever you are feeding
the pup, make sure that it sits before eating.
This is just a quick way to teach the dog a little self-restraint and
respect for people. With very young
pups 1 raise a piece of food quickly up past their noses above the level they
can reach (of it's too close they'll jump at it) as 1 say "sit" in a
commanding but not threatening tone. This
will tend to raise their head, and the bottom will hopefully fall to the floor.
As soon as this occurs (don't make pups wait) praise the dog, release it
with a command like "OK" and put the bowl down.
As the pup gets older start to wait a bit before praising and eventually
get the dog to stay while the bowl is placed on the floor.
It is important that the
pup not associate any nasty experiences with you, so we don't want to get
involved in the old "hooked fish" dragging of the petrified pup
routine. The simplest way to lead
train the puppy is to let the pup do the work.
Attach a very light lead to the pups fixed collar and let it drag it
around for a while under supervision, never leave the lead on when the pup is
left alone in case it gets caught and he chokes.
Pup will probably chew on it for a while and step on it and trip over a
few times. But after a couple of
sessions of about an hour he will pretty much ignore it.
This works really well if you have another dog, they will play and get
the lead tangled and the pup will learn that the lead is just part of life
without having anything nasty happen. Do
1 or 2 sessions a day of this for about 3 days before you try to lead the pup
anywhere. Initially make sure the
pup is going in the direction you want. Maybe
have another family member put the food down as you approach with the pup on
lead. He'll be less concerned about
the lead than his dinner! Have the
pup on his lead and use a toy in your free hand to get his attention to stop him
trying to move away and hence dragging against the lead.
Again, it's easier to avoid the problem than fix it, associate his early
lead experiences with pleasant things and all should go well.
This is essential as an
early puppy lesson. How many times
has the puppy picked up something he shouldn't have?
After all, they are Golden Retrievers!
It's much easier to teach the dog to "leave it" than chase
him and make it a game in his eyes, and most probably damage the item as well.
Once again we go for the "softly, softly" approach.
There is no need to be excessively harsh with your treatment of the pup
to teach "leave it", or grab things roughly from him. Goldens should
have a tender mouth and as such it should be treated gently.
Ensure that the pup always has a number of his playthings available to
reduce the chances of. His looking upon forbidden items as toys, these items
should be as varied as possible. I.e. things that roll, squeak, are soft or
hard, rattle etc. If the pup should
grab something that is not his do NOT
reprimand him, or grab it from his mouth. Quickly
pick up one of his own toys and try to make a swap.
Make the item you are holding seem really
inviting, make it move while saying "Ohhhhhhh, looky what I've got.
This is Muuuuch more fun!" in a really endearing tone.
Most times the pup will drop what he's got to grab your item. The pup
will eventually learn which are his items and which he should leave alone. As he seems to get the hang of the swapping. game, introduce
the "leave it" command. Tell
him to "leave it" whilst initiating the swap routine.
Remember that pups need to learn and explore, if you have items of value
around... keep them away from the puppy. Young
pups can't be expected to learn all the rules of etiquette instantly, any more
than young children can. There is a period when they are learning the rules, and you must be
patient and vigilant during that time. It's
no more his fault for picking up something you left lying around than it is when
he has an accident because you forgot to take him outside.
The pup should be
encouraged to keep all four feet on the ground, not only to protect people
(remember pups grow up ... big!) but also to protect the growing bone structure
from too much stress. This is
easily achieved by crouching down when greeting the pup so there is no need for
him to jump. Keep you hands low to
encourage the pup to remain at that level. If the pup jumps, there is no need to
reprimand it ... remembers we want all of p
Pups experiences with us
to be positive. We need to find a
physical way for the pup to be discouraged from jumping, without being too
rough. The old "knee the dog
in the chest", "pinch his front feet" and "stand on his back
toes" routines are out.
The trick is for the pup to learn that one of the facts of life is
that people are a funny shape and if they jump up they will encounter
discomfort, just as they learn not to walk off the edge of the veranda because
that big drop hurts. If we
reprimand the dog at the same time as giving the physical discomfort, the dog
will think we meant to harm it. So if the dog jumps, put your knee or arm out in such a way
that you are not moving it towards the dog, but he runs into it.
If you hold the limb still and keep quiet, the pup will accept it as one
of natureís peculiar ways and learn to avoid the situation, by staying at
Coming when called
Many of us, especially
those involved in obedience, think of a recall as a specific exercise where the
dog must stay, then come when called and sit in front, then move around behind
the handler and sit at the left side. However
for most dog owners a recall is the action of the dog stopping whatever it's
doing and returning to the owner.
This applies whether you
are walking the dog at the park, participating in a retrieving or field trial,
out shooting on a swamp, or calling your dog for his dinner.
It is important that the
dog should learn to come immediately when it is called for a number of reasons:
To stop it from harassing other people/dogs in suburbia
To ensure it doesn't interfere with another dog that is working in
competition (Field Trials)
To stop it from getting into miscellaneous trouble (e.g. running on the
To make sure it doesn't get shot in rural areas for chasing stock etc.
So that it comes back to you after retrieving an item, be it game at a
Field/Retrieving/Obedience trial, or it's frisbee at the park
as a compulsory exercise in Obedience Trials
The bottom line is that
the dog comes when called is not going to be a public nuisance or a danger to
itself or others.
The usual scenario
The owner takes the dog
for a walk and lets it off the lead at the local park.
The dog happily runs around and has a sniff until it sees another person
(or dog). The dog then shoots off
to the other person to see what they're up to.
The owner calls the dog, which has suddenly gone completely deaf and
can't hear the call! The dog is now
jumping all over the other person who is, justifiably, unimpressed. The dogís owner is completely embarrassed by the dogís
behaviour and gets more threatening with the commands.
Finally the owner catches the dog, puts it on lead and proceeds to
correct it both verbally and physically to punish it for it's performance.
this sound all too familiar?
The dogs train of thought
Lets look at the above
scenario from the dogís point of view:
He's having his sniff, the
only bit of freedom in his daily walk, when he sees someone new.
We all know that someone new in Golden Retriever language means
"Someone who hasn't had the pleasure of playing with me yet!Ē
So the dog goes zooming over to get acquainted with this new playmate.
He hears the owner calling and thinks, "I have two options. 1 can go
and play with this exciting new person, or 1 can go back and be put on lead (by
my boring owner that 1 see all the time) to be taken back home".
Naturally, the dog takes the first option and keeps going.
While he's "playing" his owner is getting angrier and the dog
is starting to get worried about the consequences of returning.
"Oh boy, she sounds really mad now. If I go back I'm going to cop it". Eventually when he's caught and gets corrected he's thinking,
"I knew this going back on lead business was trouble.
As soon as the lead goes on I'm in strife.
Next time 1 won't be caught".
The secret to
There is only one reason
that the dog does not return to its owner promptly.
Pay attention here, it's the most important point in the whole article:
The dog has to want to come to you more than
Anything else in the world
that point again please, it's really important.
The reason dogs don't come back when you call them is that you
are not interesting enough to them. Doesn't
the truth hurt? You are boring to
your dog and he'd rather be doing something else (anything else) than being with
you. OK, we're done with the nasty
bits now. Take a deep breath and
find out how we're going to fix the problem.
Training for beautiful recalls
The bottom line is that we
have to make coming to us the most enjoyable thing the dog can do.
Obviously this will mean different things to each dog and owner.
However we can make some generalisations and also offer some Doís and
Doníts for all dogs. Note that
there is no "quick fix" when you come to recalls it's a matter of
completely retraining the dog. The more bad habits he started with, the longer it will take
to fix them.
of the reasons that dogs don't come when called is that they are only ever
called when one of two events occur: It's time to go home, or something exciting
happens (a dog, or person arrives) that they then miss out on.
They make a negative association with the recall.
You need to break this cycle by calling the dog when only pleasant things
will occur. Try taking the dog to a
safe area (a fenced, footy oval is perfect) and letting it off lead.
Plan to spend an hour at the designated area.
Bring a whole variety of doggy bribes, these can be food or toys.
Whatever your dog likes best is what we're after, if that's his big
fluffy Humphrey B Bear toy ... then so be it! The idea is to let the dog run off
some steam for a while, so just let him run free for 5 or 1 0 minutes.
Then call him in, be prepared that he will act as usual and probably
ignore you. Do not reprimand
the dog for failure to obey. At
this point we're trying to make it fun for him, so find a way to encourage him
in. Raise the pitch (not the tone!)
of your voice, do some star jumps, throw yourself to the ground suddenly, throw
his toy in the air. Whatever it
takes to get him to come in, even if you have to make a complete fool of
yourself Remember that a dog is always more likely to come in if you are not so
tall, kneel down and encourage him with open arms.
When he eventually arrives, reward him big time.
Make out that he's just won CRUFTS and the National Retrieving Trial
Championships in the last 5 minutes! Use
your food or toy and make out that he's the cleverest dog on the planet.
Yes, even if it took 15 minutes to get him to come to you.
To start with we take ANY progress as an earth-shattering win. This should be less painful with a puppy as they are
naturally more inquisitive and also have not learned the negative associations
to start with. Having made a big
fuss of the dog, allow him to run free again and keep repeating the whole
procedure at regular intervals. He
should be more responsive as time goes on, as he's teaming to make new,
positive, associations with the whole business.
It might help to change the command if he seems to droop whenever you use
the old one. Try "Here"
instead of "Come". As he
comes in more regularly, praise him verbally and get him to sit before using
your other reward. Occasionally
snap the lead on him when he's sitting, praise him and then take the lead off
again and release the dog. Obviously
sometimes when you snap the lead on, it's time to go home.
But make sure that's not the only time the lead goes on, or again the dog
will come to associate the lead with the end of his freedom and rebel against
Praise your dog and make a fuss of him when he comes.
Remember that you must build up slowly.
Take slow steps to success. A
dog that comes to you today for the first time on a vacant footy oval is not
going to come to you tomorrow in a park full of other dogs.
Write down a list of the steps you need to undertake and the order in
which you will tackle them. I.e. come in the back yard, come at the park with no
distractions, come at the park with another dog in the far distance etc. This
serves two purposes: it gives you a clear direction, and gives you something to
tick off when you're happy with the item (thereby allowing you to 'see' your
Use an extendible lead when you are ready to start training amongst
distractions. Don't use it to
correct the dog, just to stop him from nicking off.
Keep calling whilst allowing the dog to only move in your direction.
He still needs to make the decision to come in so don't reel him in like
* Sometimes let the dog know you've got his reward and have
someone else hold him (or get him to stay if he's reliable). Walk a reasonable distance (start with 30 feet) and clearly
display the reward whilst calling the dog.
Let him leap up and grab it from your hand when he arrives.
This exercise should speed him up. Increase
the distance to increase the speed. Don't
do this too often from a "stay" or he will start to break all his
Don't ever reprimand the dog
when it comes to you.
Don't ever call the dog to you
for punishment for any deed (go and catch him if you must punish).
Don't think the problem is "fixed".
You must continually train the dog to expect positive things from you, to
ensure he does not revert to old habits. Vary
when he gets the reward so he never knows whether to expect it or not.
Dogs are optimistic, if in doubt they'll hope you've got the reward!
Also vary the reward to keep him guessing!
HOLD AND GIVE.
most of dog training, teaching your dog to "Hold" and "Give"
an item is purely repetition. However some dogs will make harder work of it than
You will need a training dummy (described in previous newsletters) which
should be used for nothing other than training, i.e. no playing tug-of-war etc.
You will need to use clear and distinctly different voice tones for
correction and praise.
You must be consistent with your commands.
You must ensure the dog carries out your commands, always followed by
enormous amounts of praise.
Below are some of the more
common problems, together with some training methods you may like to try?
My dog refuses to pick up a dummy
I've thrown for him.
A: There are a number of ways to get your dog to
pick up a dummy.
First of all try to entice the dog into picking it
up by exciting it. Playfully run up
to the dummy with the dog, gently kicking the dummy along several times, all the
time telling the dog to fetch it. Try
to refrain from picking it up yourself. Should
the dog. pick up the dummy, immediately turn to the dog, crouching down, pouring
on the praise, open arms, saying come. You
can build on the actual retrieve by taking a few steps back after the dog has
the dummy, then crouching down to take delivery.
If your dog
refuses to pick up the dummy, find an article you know your dog will pick up,
e.g. an old sock that you can put over your dummy, or perhaps an old sock over a
tennis ball. Run through the same
procedure. If you have success, end
the training session there (on a good note) and continue the same later.
Once competent with this you can gradually go back to the dummy.
My dog will retrieve a dummy, but
drops it in front of me.
A: We must teach our dog the command to "Hold'.
Training the dog for this exercise does not need to
be a formal trip to the park or favourite training spot.
It is best carried out with short regular training sessions in or around
the home with the dog right in front of you.
First, place the dummy in the dogs mouth, whilst telling the dog to
If the dog
refuses to open its mouth you can encourage it by gripping the lower jaw with
one hand, working the forefinger and thumb into the dogs mouth, the only
objective being to get the dog to open its mouth.
Once the mouth opens, with the other hand place the dummy in the dogís
mouth. Immediately begin to praise
the dog and gently stroke under the jaw and neck, whilst commanding to hold.
Stroking the dog in this way, will tend to make the dog lift its head,
thus reducing the risk if the dog dropping the dummy. You may then command the dog to "Give" and proceed
to take the dummy from the dog. If
the dog tries to drop the dummy before the "Give" command, you must
immediately change the tone of your voice to a harsher corrective tone and place
the dummy back in the dogís mouth, again commanding the dog to
"Hold". Repeat this
exercise several times and try to finish on a happy note.
My dog will pick up and return
with a dummy, but refuses to release it.
Again, this can be resolved at home.
With the dog in front of you (preferably sitting),
command the dog to "Hold" whilst giving it the dummy.
Pause, and if necessary stroke the dog under the jaw 1 neck, then command
the dog to "Give". Should
the dog refuse to release the dummy, you will need to encourage the dog to open
Some options are:
To offer the dog another item such as its favourite toy.
To offer the dog food.
∑ To place the hand over the dogs muzzle gently squeezing the jowls.
This will not harm the dog, only discomfort the dog enough to release the
This method is
extremely effective as:
a. It doesn't focus the dog's attention on what's in your pocket or
behind your back.
When the dog is praised straight away, it will quickly forget about any
discomfort. It knows exactly what
it is being praised for, and will quickly associate releasing the dummy with the
You will no doubt
encounter other problems along the way. The
key is persistence. When you
finally succeed, the rewards far exceed the effort.
The single most important point.
Most training 'faults ď are
caused by the handler, not the dog.
The more you are involved in training dogs for any
type of activity, the more this quote is proven to be correct.
If you accept the validity of this
statement, you are well on the way to resolving the problem.
If you do not accept it, you will probably not address the actual root
cause of the problem and are unlikely to successfully resolve it.
The building blocks
It is always easier to tone down an over-exuberant
dog in the long run than it is to try and re-invigorate a dog that has learnt
that training is dull and boring. To
this end, it is important that all
training sessions be performed when both dog and handler are enthusiastic.
With a dog that is really over the top you might want to wear him/her out
a bit (with a walk) before you start as it is difficult for a dog that's leaping
out of it's skin to pay attention for any useful amount of time.
Ensure that you are working with the dog to try to
achieve a common goal, if something is not working look at it objectively to
work out why. Don't just punish the
dog on the presumption that it's only doing it to upset you.
Try to lean towards praising the good rather than
punishing the 'bad'. This will
produce a dog that is not scared (through fear of punishment) to try different ways to approach a problem. Such a dog will eventually hit upon success and be rewarded
with your praise, and hence know the appropriate action next time.
The attempts prior to the successful one are not 'failures', merely
Use the minimum of force to teach your dog a new
task. It will learn quicker if it
'chooses' to perform a particular action than if you physically manipulate it
into the same position.
Always praise your dog for the successful performance of a task, even if the
performance is fleeting. Eg if you have had trouble getting the dog to sit and
it finally does sit for half a second before leaping up; you must be ready to
praise during the half second! There
is no incentive for the dog to perform other than your praise/reward.
Voice control and training sequence
There are three main ways to verbally communicate
with your dog when training, and each has it's own tone.
Always command the dog first; if it responds correctly then praise it.
If it does not respond correctly (you must be sure he/she knows the
exercise) then correct the dog. Always
finish with praise when the exercise is performed satisfactorily.
When commanding the dog to perform an action, use a
tone that carries authority but not threat, or request.
You are telling the dog which action you would like performed, nothing
Should the trained dog fail to respond, you should
use a sterner tone that leaves the dog in no doubt that you are displeased.
This does not need to be any louder than your command; volume is not the
never makes you more right!).
praising the dog, your tone should be much brighter and fun-filled.
The dog must know that he's performed correctly and that this makes you
very happy. Hopefully he will try
to reproduce this reaction in you by performing correctly every time you
give the command!
that in the following exercises 1 generally recommend that you get the dog
performing the action before introducing the word for it.
There are a few reasons for this: We really want the dog to concentrate
on learning the exercise, excess stimulation (including verbal commands) can
detract from this ability to focus. Also
if the dog should not perform the exercise, or perform it differently to what we
would like, he is learning to either ignore the command or associate it with the
wrong activity. If we wait until
the action is correct we resolve both problems. After the initial learning is
complete, the dog can afford to be less focussed on the actual action and listen
to our command. Also we associate
the correct action with the command.
the dog standing in front of you and get its attention with a "lure"
(toy, snack). Make a motion with
your hand starting near the dogs nose (so he knows the lure is there) and going
up over and partly behind his head. The
dog will spin his muzzle upward in an attempt to grab the lure.
Experiment with the best hand movement to get your dog to sit rather than
just jump at the lure. It is
important to move the lure not only straight up (you only need to be a couple of
inches above his head) but also back in the direction of the dogs tail this
should stop them from jumping up. As
soon as the dog sits, praise it profusely and allow it to have the lure as
reward. Do not add the verbal command "sit" until your hand
movement produces the required action from the dog on a regular basis.
can be taught from either the standing or sitting position, sitting is generally
easier as the dog is under a bit more control to stair with. This is almost the opposite to teaching the dog to sit.
Have the dog in front of you and, with the lure in your hand, sweep your
hand down to floor level and 'm towards the dogs chest.
At first praise/reward getting the front end down, but eventually the aim
is to get the whole dog down. When
the front end of the dog goes down, leave your hand (containing the lure) on the
floor for a few seconds. The dog
will tire of this position and the back end will also go down.
When this happens, heap the praise and give the lure reward. Again, don't bother with the command until the dog will
perform the action.
can be a little difficult to teach, as the dog often doesn't understand what it
did that is right. Itís just standing there and you praise it! Repetition is the key. Quietly
command the dog to stand, and immediately praise it in this position.
The dog needn't be beside you; it can stand anywhere at first.
We're more concerned with teaching the action than the best position for
it at this stage. Gradually extend
the length of time that you expect the dog to stand, and praise it when this
time has expired.
with all other exercises Stay need not initially be taught relative to a
particular handler stance. le the dog can stay at any distance, in any direction
from the handler, not necessarily in front
or beside. The easiest way to do
this is to have the dog sit and gradually increase the amount of time it has to
sit before you praise and release it from the exercise. Introduce the word stay when the dog seems to have the idea
that it should not move until you tell it.
Make sure you say the stay command quietly, too much enthusiasm will
cause the dog to get up. Use a
gentle command to receive a steady response.
the lure to encourage the dog to the correct position by your side as you are
walking, praise/reward the dog. The
dog should learn to vary it's pace to keep up with you, and perform the other
exercises in the heel position. If
they were introduced already this should not be difficult.
GENERAL OBEDIENCE IN RETRIEVING
Over the years it has been said obedience has no
place at Non Slip Retrieving Trials. Perhaps
it is true of the confined restricted obedience work seen at obedience trials
but on viewing the All Age Section at Retrieving Trials, no one could doubt
obedience is the foundation of the partnership between the handler and the
dog.Obedience clubs recommend that you allow your dog to 'run free' by removing
the correction chain but all gun dogs should be taught to stay in working mode
even without the chain. At the
starting peg at Retrieving Trials you are asked to remove the lead but as this
means the lead, correction chain and any leather collars your dog must be
trained to work without them. It is
dangerous to run a dog in the bush or to swim while wearing anything that could
Your dog must be quiet in 'the hide'.
Teach him at an early age to be tethered up out of sight and build up the
period of time you leave him. You
may watch other competitors complete their runs but your dog must be completely
out of sight. To see a marked bird
from 'the hide' rather than the firing peg will totally confuse your dog and you
could be accused of trying to cheat!
Plan your heeling pattern from the starting peg to
the firing pegs. Allow your dog to
walk on the flat straight area while you walk through the tussocks and over the
rocks because your dog won't walk through; he will walk around and you will lose
points for him wandering all over the place.
On steep slopes or through fences etc, leave the dog on a sit stay.
Navigate the awkward area and then call him to heel.
A dog taught to walk neatly beside the left leg
will have the benefit of being in the correct position to be nicelv set up at
the firing pegs. Any dog lunging lead Will be well past the firing pegs before
the handler even gets there. During
training try to overcome this by walking up on lead or doing a quick right about
turn and walking away. The dog is
left out there all by himself with nothing happening.
A dog walking wide could end up outside the firing peg, so try stepping
to the right and calling him to heel during training.
If a dog is not in the correct position at the
pegs, bring him to heel without touching
the dog and remember, the judge will not wait forever.
It is not mandatory for the dog to be in the sit position but it is
recommended. In the drop position
the dog won't see much and it is easier for the dog to break from the standing
position. Should he break before
your command of 'fetch', stop him by whistle or a very loud voice and then send
him only when you are sure you have gained control.
Points are lost for a dog breaking but less are deducted if you can stop
him. Sit the dog's whole body in the
direction of the mark; not just his nose. Use
the word 'wait' or 'stay' and teach him that 'watch' means look out ahead in the
direction the gun is pointing. When
the dog returns with the bird encourage him to sit (or stand) close in front of
you. Never lean out over him or he
will stay further away. Any bird
dropped should be picked up by him. Do
a right about turn while the dog is still in front of you and the call him to
follow you at heel. Again he sits
(or stands) at your left side when you halt at the starting peg to hand over the
gun and birds. You are still in
competition until you have placed the lead on the dog.
A loop type slip lead is the easiest to use in Retrieving Trials.
Any obedience is taught to the dog at close range
and when you attempt to put some distance between you and the dog, maintain
control of every command , even if it means running across a field to do a
correction. Retrieving Trials have been won or lost on one point and that one
point could have been gained or lost in obedience.
Remember, in all stages of Retrieving Trialing from Beginners to All Age
- maintain control!
Praise and Punishment
The building blocks
Most animals and humans
respond better to positive situations than negative ones.
Golden Retrievers being a breed that live to please their owners are more
likely to flourish under a training program that is geared towards positive
reinforcement than punishment.
When we are training our
dog to perform a particular new task, we are effectively asking it to have a go
at the unknown. For example: the
very first time we ask a dog to sit, it has absolutely no idea what we require
of it. It has two options: do
nothing, or do something. The
secret to dog training is for the dog never to be afraid of doing
"something". As long as the dog makes an attempt to do
"something", we can be assured that sooner or later it will hit on the
first step towards the correct behaviour.... which we then have the opportunity
to praise/reward. But if the dog is
afraid to do "something" and opts for "nothing" the job is
The pleasures positive
Using the positive
reinforcement approach, the dog comes to believe that every action is a valid
one, but at times some are more rewarding than others.
Assume that I have taught my dog to sit and drop (lie down). If I tell him to drop he can perform either of these actions.
However he knows that only one of them will bring the reward that he's after,
the other action is not wrong as such.... But it doesn't bring reward at this
time (it might later under different circumstances). So the dog chooses to
perform the action that is most rewarding to him, which also happens to be the
one I want! The dog that has had this sort of upbringing/training is not the
sort that collapses under pressure. Dogs
(and people!) that have trouble performing under pressure generally are scared
of making a mistake. Dogs trained
with positive reinforcement have nothing to fear from making a mistake.... They
just don't get rewarded. So they
are striving to achieve well for their own benefit (which you have groomed to
match your goals), not to try and avoid punishment.
The problem with punishment
Punishment often gets out
of proportion to the crime. People
tend to get emotional with a dog that doesn't perform as expected, especially if
there is an audience to exacerbate their embarrassment.
The tendency to "tell the dog off' is used more as a vent for the
owners frustration than for any benefit of the dog and we've all done it.
The dog that is persistently punished is learning through fear and a
fearful environment is not conducive to learning.
Such dogs might learn not to perform specific actions (ie not to steal
rubbish from a bin), but it is very difficult to teach such dogs to perform
actions where they need to use some initiative and creativity.
For instance the Utility Obedience exercise of running out to the box and
sitting in it is harder to teach such a dog.
They don't have the confidence to try "something" and see what
happens, they are always expecting that nasty punishment to fall from above.
The reward can be anything
that tickles the dogs fancy: verbal praise, a pat, food, a toy, the opportunity
to fetch something (Goldens love that one!).
Use your imagination and try a number of items to find what the dog likes
best. You can also vary the reward
to help keep the dog interested.
how do you get the message across that you
don't want "that' 'action?
The key point is that we need to let the dog know that a particular action is not the desired one (at this point in time) and encourage him to try a different one. Behaviours are not "bad" they are just unwanted at this time.
"failure" as an experiment, each one brings you closer to success.
So we need to find a way to tell the dog that this action at this time is
not the one we want.
The "try again '.'Word
Now that we have a whole
new perspective on "bad" behaviour we should use a different word to
make sure we don't fall back into our old habits.
The problem with "no" is that it has so many decidedly negative
applications in life that we tend to over-emotionalise its use.
It's hard to keep your tone neutral and say "no" when the dog
has performed an action that we aren't after.
It tends to become "Nooooooooooooooooo" and becomes a word that
causes fear in the dog. Remember we
don't want to scare the dog, just make it aware that we're after a different
behaviour. The word you choose isn't really important, as long as it isn't a
word you use very often (or the dog will hear it all the time when it doesn't
relate to him), and it Isn't "no"! I use "wrong". It's an easy word to use in a neutral tone, and is not in
common use. I know someone who says "that's nice, but what else can you
do?". Note that it's almost
impossible say that with a harsh tone, or even a slightly disappointing one.
Putting it together
With the dog paying
attention and the reward handy just watch the dog and see what behaviours it
offers. If it just stops dead and
won't do anything, walk around a bit and try to get it moving.
If, for example, you want the dog to lie down you are waiting for any
sort of knee-bend or head lowering action.
When it occurs, praise the dog and offer the reward.
Note that the first few times the dog gets rewarded it probably has no
idea what it did to "score". Be
patient, you need to get the first step happening regularly before you increase
the criteria. For instance you might be happy with a head lowering at
first, but when it happens regularly you might want a head lowering and
a knee bend. When that's
regular, maybe you want a definite bow etc.
"That's fine as far as praise/reward goes, but what about the
"wrong" part?" I can hear you ask.
Let's assume the dog barks to get the reward and we want it to be quiet. You'd probably temporarily suspend the original activity
(getting the dog to drop) and concentrate on teaching "quiet".
Whenever the dog barks, you say "Wrong....... Quiet" in a quiet
tone (no point getting the dog all fired up with an enthusiastic command, he
needs to settle a bit) and otherwise ignore him.
If he's quiet for a second, reward him as you repeat "Quiet, good
quiet". Tell him
"Quiet" again and try to extend the time the dog will remain quiet.
Each time the dog barks repeat "Wrong... quiet", this lets him
know that what he did last is not required right now (although it might be
later) what you want now is "Quiet".
Remember not to get all worked up about giving the command, you should
sound almost detached, as if reading the shopping list!
The end result
If you are able to raise a
pup under the principles listed above, you should have a responsive dog that is
not afraid to try new things. It
will learn quickly and be eager to please.
Remember that no dog is perfect.... As no person is perfect.
If the dog should misbehave the important
thing is to teach the dog not to repeat the behaviour, not to "punish"
the dog for the offence. Punishment
teaches nothing, except to fear the punisher.
Remember also that a pup trained with these techniques may also seem
generally more "naughty" than those trained under more standard
"punishment type" methods. This
is because he's not afraid to try new activities, whereas the other dog may be
too inhibited to do much at all. Don't
be annoyed or frustrated with your puppy if this is the case, rejoice in the
fact that he has an outgoing personality and is easy to train.
What about my older dog?
The above techniques can
be used on older dogs that have been trained in a different manner, or not
trained at all. Results will not be
as effective (or as quick) as they are with a pup, but any improvement is
worthwhile. An older dog will be
less likely to offer a variety of responses due to inhibition caused be previous
training methods. A dog that
dislikes the whole process will be difficult to convert ... but not impossible.
Be patient with an older dog,
they need more time and understanding.
The techniques outlined
above are extended by the use of a "clicker" as a secondary
reinforcer. There is not a great
deal available at the moment in the way of clubs or books utilising such
Sherbrooke Obedience Dog
Club runs classes using food/clickers.
A book called "Don't
shoot the dog" by Karen Pryor discusses the theory of the techniques and
the principles that they are based on.
David Westonís' book
"Dog Training: The Gentle Modem Method" shows how to teach a number of
exercises using positive principles.
TRAINING TO RETRIEVE
to run lines to 'blinds'
Once your dog has its
Novice Retrieving Dog ( NRD) qualification it must compete at Restricted level
which requires them running a line to a blind or unsighted bird and to obey
directions from the handler.
to run lines can commence at puppy stage and should not be left until the dog is
ready to graduate from Novice. However
it is most important that this training should be done quite separately from
directional training for left, right, and back.
All of these things can be taught when the dog is the same age, but they
should not be taught in the same sessions - regardless of how tempting it might
be to show off and have your dog run out, stop on whistle and turn - otherwise
you might finish with a dog which stops or 'pops' consistently looking for
objective is to have a dog, which runs stylishly and confidently off the
handlerís hand up to about I50 metres over various types of terrain, and in
all types of cover, including water.
handlers like to use a different instruction for this retrieve than for a mark.
For instance if a dog is sent to a mark with the instruction 'fetch',
then the word for a blind might be 'back' or 'go on'. Also the instruction might be preceded with the words 'dead
bird'. The objective is that in a
trial, when a dog has seen a mark but is being sent instead for a blind, then
(apart from being pointed in a different direction) it also receives a totally
how to start. In the passageway at home, or down the side of the house, or
on a laneway, place a number of retrieving dummies on the ground.
The dog must have seen you place the dummies in position.
Take the dog (say) I0 to 50 feet away - use commonsense, this is not a
test, and the distance will depend on the age and tenacity of the dog.
Have the dog sitting at heel, (or with a puppy, kneel down to steady it).
Hold your left hand fully open in front of the dog's nose lined up in the
direction of the blind. Go through
your routine; calmly say "stay", "dead bird" and then
"go on" in an urging tone. Initially
the dog may not have a clue what you want- why should it- so you should cajole,
run with it, say 'fetch' etc whatever is needed to encourage it to pick up a
dummy and run back with it. The narrow restricted area that you have chosen
should help to keep the dog focussed. It
shouldn't be more than a few sessions before the dog has the idea. The younger the dog the shorter the sessions should be.
Always stop before your dog tells you itís had enough!
And always finish on a good note.
your dog is doing this well find a quiet area in a park (a track is a good spot)
which has short grass and start the routine again.
Once again start with short distances and as the dog catches on, move
progressively further away from the dummies.
Next move is to an area where the grass is longer.
Let the dog see where you put the dummies but it can not see the dummies
from the position it is sent because of the grass.
Try to always send your dog to the same spot, and progressively increase
the distance by moving back.
you have been working to the same spot a few sessions, peg the dog out of sight
and place a couple of dummies in the usual position.
Bring the dog up and send him for dummies from one of the shorter
positions. It should confidently
complete its first 'blind'!
are some training tips;
Move away from the blind,
rather than moving the blind away from you.
Otherwise the dog may potter where the previous blind was.
When you have mastered the
exercise in one location move to another. Sometimes
a dog identifies with a particular location rather than the instruction.
Don't put a blind in a
location where your dog will confuse it with one it has already done.
Go back to short distances
when you first introduce obstacles like undulations, rushes, creeks, logs etc.
Start double blinds I80 degrees apart and progressively bring the angles
to about 90 degrees, so there is no chance of swapping game.
When giving a line to a
dog, always make sure its backbone and head are lined up with the blind.
YOUR PUPPY TO RETRIEVE
A strong tendency to carry
things around in his mouth is your first indication that you have a retriever
puppy. Here are some dos and don'ts
to encourage this tendency, and to fully develop his ability to work as a gundog
and perform the duties your dog was bred for.
the Golden Retriever is much more that a pretty show dog and can demonstrate
those characteristics for which the breed was developed.
When you remember just how much dedication and effort it took to
establish and stabilise the breed so that we can enjoy them so much, it seems
dreadful to just allow it all to fade away through lack of interest.
A dual-purpose dog should be our aim.
socks, shoes, rolled newspaper, etc, etc, is natural.
It's in his nature - he's a retriever.
If you discourage him from doing this now, how will you be able to make a
retriever out of him when he grows up? If you don't want special possessions
carried about and (sometimes) eventually chewed, don't put them within reach.
Shoes in cupboards are safe from sharp puppy teeth!
you go about your daily routine, in and about the house, or walks in the park,
your puppy will find all sorts of things to pick up for you.
The way you receive these "gifts" is, in my opinion, one of the
most important steps you will ever take. When
my pup first went out into the big wide world he found a million things for me.
instance, the four worst "ghastlies" that I have been
"pleased" to accept from my dog were;
- three quarters of a dead bird
(presented with two yellow feet protruding from the side of his mouth)
a rotting chicken rib cage (he really didn't want to part with that one)
a possum tail - (eeeeek!)
a snapper head - (no comment)
It got to the stage when I
seriously considered wearing rubber gloves when we went for a walk!
The point is though; that he was happily retrieving to hand what in his
mind were priceless gifts that I was anxiously awaiting. (Wasnít I?)
are nor revolted by such things and if I had reacted with screeches of horror,
he would have been reluctant to share his treasure a second time and there
probably wouldn't have been a third time. The
message is loud and clear for you the handler.
Accept with enthusiasm whatever your pup retrieves for you, gently remove
it from his mouth with the command "Give" and lavish praise an your
clever enterprising pup.
teach your pup to drop the item on the ground at your feet - you'll have a real
ordeal on your hands when you later want him to deliver to hand.
your puppy won't "Give", place the index finger of each hand where the
jawbones meet and press don't be too rough.
Repeat the command "Give" and remove the object.
Give your pup heaps of praise. Don't,
whatever you do, have a tug of war with him.
You'll finish up with an enormous problem that you might never be able to
your puppy won't come to you when called, squat down, with your arms spread wide
and call your puppy in a bright happy voice.
Don't give chase, it will turn into a game a tag that will become a
problem. If your puppy still won't
come, call him and run as fast as you can away from him, you'll find him
galloping along beside you in a very short space of time.
working retriever is a joy to behold, please encourage and foster his instincts
- don't do anything to suppress his natural retrieving ability.
TRAINING YOUR DOG TO GUNSHOT
Over the past few months I have had a few enquires
on the best way to train a dog to gunshot. I will try to describe a few methods
that have worked for me and proved successful. Before I start there are a few
things to consider. When you fire a
gun, you are behind it and firing forward.
The dog is normally in front of you or at your side, and consequently he
is in the noise cone. The noise he
hears is about five times louder than you hear it.
Your dog may also be interested in what is going on around him, and may
not realise that you are going to discharge the gun. Put yourself in his position - how would you react?
Initially, when introducing the dog to the gun,
consider the dog at all times. Forget
about shooting that duck or rabbit in front of him.
Training must concentrate on him and him alone.
Begin with the dog in the backyard.
The most common time is at mealtime.
One of the better methods is to make him sit and stay.
Step backward about ten feet from him with his food bowl and drop a steel
rubbish tin lid on the ground. Call
his name and offer his food with plenty of encouragement and fuss.
Never drop the lid behind the dog when he is eating
- always attract his attention before making any sudden noise.
If you have a cap gun, you can try the same method.
The next step is to get him to sit at a distance, with you in front of
the dog but t ' o his left. Try
throwing a dummy and calling to him to watch.
Fire the cap gun and send him for the retrieve.
When he picks it up and returns to you give him plenty of praise.
Let him smell the cap gun - once again with plenty of encouragement,
Take him down to the nearest gun club and ask
permission to bring him in. If
permission is granted, start off in the car park and check his reaction.
If he is taking no notice, slowly bring him up into the shooting area so
that he can watch the clays being thrown. After
a short while he will probably curl up and go to sleep wondering what all the
fuss is about!
The next stage is out in the field.
Remember that you are training - not out shooting rabbits.
It would be best to go with another person.
You can then handle the dog while your friend out in front fires the gun.
When he reaches the stage of being unfussed by the noise, you can relax
and in future it should be enjoyable hunting.
Another method is to attend our Retrieving Trials.
At these trials the gallery (spectators) are normally in close proximity
to the competitor working his dog. Bring
your dog to the Trial. He will see
the bird being cast, the competitor firing the gun and his dog being sent for
the retrieve. With all this action
taking place, your dog will be that hyped up, he will wait and watch for the gun
to go off. He will be shaking with
excitement at your side.
By encouraging your dog, he will know the gun shot
means a retrieve of an item of game. He
then associates the noise with pleasure.
Basic rules for introducing your dog to the gun;
Always attract his attention before firing.
Associate the noise with
Make out you are excited
when the gun goes off.
If he flinches don't console him, but sound
inquisitive - "What was that?" The dog will realise that if it is
pleasurable for you, it must be okay.
Take your time and don't force your dog - it will
This depends on you. If done
slowly you won't have problems at any age.
Introduction to Tracking
Introduction to Tracking
The purpose of tracking is for the dog to follow a
human scent trail and find the "missing person at the end.
Tracking is an activity that can not really be taught to a dog by a
human. People have little understanding of how scent works, whereas dogs (with
their much more sensitive scenting apparatus) use scent as a major sense.
It is important that it is understood that the best a handler can hope
for is to direct a dogís natural scenting ability in the desired direction. The dog must use it's initiative to achieve at tracking, as
such the handler should refrain from correcting the dog. The tracking handlerís motto is "Trust your dog",
if there is any doubt you MUST believe that the dog is doing the right thing: -
don't forget you can't track, you don't understand the circumstances the dog is
Tracking trials are held from
approx May through until September each year in
Victoria, due to the snake bite danger in summer.
Your dog must have at least one Novice obedience pass to be eligible to
enter a tracking test. The first
test is called a Preliminary Test, then you move onto Test I, Test 2 (Test 2
gives you your TD (Tracking Dog) title), Test 3, Test 4 and Test 5 which gives
you Tracking Dog excellent (TDX). TDX
is one of the two titles you must currently achieve to obtain your Obedience
Champion title (the other one is the Obedience Utility Dog title).
The first test is over 300
metres, it will contain one angle turn and is left to age for between 10 and 30
minutes prior to the dog handler working the track.
An article (usually a sock) with the track layers scent on it is left at
the start flag so the dog knows which scent it is to follow. Track 5 is over
I200 metres, it has a least 5 angle turns and is left to age for I - 3 hours
prior to the doghandler working the track. It has an article at the start flag
and 3 more over the course of the track, of which at least 2 must be found to
obtain a pass.
Trials generally cost between $I5
and $30 dollars to enter and due to the amount of land required are generally
held outside the Melbourne Metropolitan area.
Gippsland, Ballarat and the Mornington Peninsula are regularly used
areas. Check-in times are usually
around 7am and trials are often held over two days to ensure as many entrants as
possible actually get a track. You
may request a particular day, but note that the trial secretary is not obliged
to juggle the entries and it is almost impossible to accommodate such requests.
Be prepared to accept either day and you'll be a popular competitor!
Note that there are often more entrants than tracks available in which
case a ballot is held prior to the trial. When
attending a tracking trial, it is considered poor form to not be prepared to lay
tracks for other people. Always take at least 4 articles and keep them on your
body from 30 minutes prior to the start of the trial until all tracks are
complete. Remember that you will
require unknown people to lay your tracks as time goes on, be prepared to help
others as required.
Your tracking entry should be
filled out on the standard obedience entry form. The test number you are
entering should be stated, and your known tracklayer should be nominated. Also
include a copy of your most recent pass (or your Novice pass if your are
entering a preliminary lest). Include
a stamped self-address envelope to ensure that the trial secretary send you a
receipt and, or map of the venue.
The basic idea when beginning to track with a dog is to
get the dog interested enough in someone to want to follow, and try to encourage
the dog to use its nose instead of eye/ears to find the person. The same process
can be used to find an object rather than a person, but it's generally easier to
get the dog focussed on finding a person than an object.
Have the handler put the dog in
harness and attach the long lead. Give
a favourite toy to someone the dog knows well.
Stand near an obstacle that the dogs can't see around or through
something like a car or brick wall). Have
the track layer "make a big fuss of both dog and toy and walk of .f towards an obstacle they can
hide behind (a tree or brick BBQ) about I5 metres distant.
Let the dog see the person leave and the general direction they are going
in, then move it behind the car. Make
a big fuss, "Where is he? Who's
got your toys Whereís he gone?" etc to get the dogs interest level up.
Leave about a 2-minute gap qfter the tracklayer has left before moving
the dog out to find him. Be
consistent with the use of a word for the tracking act (seek). Use this word now
and encourage the dog to find the tracklayer. "Seek. Where is he? Seek
him then". The dog should move
in roughly the right direction having seen the tracklayer leave.
Allow the dog to travel a short distance in the right direction on 4 or
5feet of lead. Don't allow it to
run steady tension on the lead is the best.
If the dogs nose goes down towards ground level, praise and repeat the
word in an enthusiastic but non-distracting tone "Seek, good boy".
While the dogs nose is down, or he is clearly sniffing the air allow
forward movement, if the dogs is just wandering at random, or trying to run in
the direction he saw the person leave, gently restrain him and allow no forward
movement. DO NOT UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES correct the dog
Slowly progress towards the
tracklayers hiding place and regardless of the dogís performance to get there,
PRAISE madly. The tracklayer should
make a big fuss of the dog and play with the toy.
The tracklayer and toy are the dogís reward and should be used
profusely to encourage the dog to remain enthusiastic next time. Do only one or two tracks per training session.
Don't be surprised if your dog seems to have little idea of what is
required for the first few sessions. Like
many activities it can take lime for the dog to get the idea, repetition is the
key. As the dog improves, increase the distance, don't allow the
dog to see the tracklayer leave, and start to use articles on the ground.
The articles can be used to help keep the dogs nose down.
Outside of your tracking training, get the dog enthusiastic about picking
up socks. Make a game out of it.
Then use socks on the track and praise when they are found.
Don't fall into the trap of placing them so closely that the dog can see
each one and just runs to them. Place
them at least I 0 metres apart and let the dog scent to them.
Further information on Tracking
can be obtained by reading the VCA rulebook (Obedience and Tracking are in the
same book). The Tracking Club of
Victoria also conducts beginnerís days and other activities.
RETRIEVE OF THE DUMBELL
initial use of the dumbbell occurs in Open Class trialing in two exercises. -
Retrieve dumbbell on the flat
- Retrieve dumbbell over
the high jump
specification for both exercises can be found in the booklet "Rules for the
Conduct of Obedience Trials - Open Class. It
is in your interest that you study these Trial requirements.
Be fully aware of the listed deductions, all of which in turn will
greatly assist you in your basic training in dumbbell work and encourage you to
achieve the highest standard possible in the ultimate tests.
following comments should be noted:
This is a complicated, precision exercise for your dog to learn and it
would seem to invite confusion to sometimes allow the dog to fetch" as a
game with no restrictions and at other times expect prompt, straight retrieves
with no "mouthing", straight precision sits in front and delivery on
command only, which is your ultimate aim.
Each stage should be taught as an exercise in itself - look for
confident, perfect performances before moving on to the next stage. Lay your basic foundations firmly. These are the basics for many of your Utility Class
This exercise has nothing to do with playing with balls and sticks.
To prevent confusion, it is recommended that the handler (or anyone else)
does not throw toys for the dog to fetch as a game, until the dog is performing
"retrieve the dumbbell" in the trial ring with good scores.
Obtain a dumbbell to suit your dogís size.
If you are unsure ask an instructor at your obedience club to select a
dumbbell for you.
If you wish to "scent' your dumbbell, have clean hands.
Cigarette odour, insect repellent and some hand lotions may be repellent
to your dog. Also, whether you
scent the dumbbell yourself or not do not allow anyone else (stewards, etc) to
handle the shaft of your dog's dumbbell.
When teaching, always use a check chain and lead, as your dog must be
under physical control. It is
recommended to do some "Heel on Lead" work immediately before
commencing each lesson. This helps
to indicate to the dog that you require his concentration and obedience to
Use gentle hands, a firm pleasant voice and a happy confident attitude
when teaching these basics.
Do not advance your dog to the next stage until your obedience instructor
has evaluated your dog's performance.
Do not let an eager dog grab the dumbbell until you have given the
command to TAKE. Use STAY or
similar commands and keep it out of reach at first until the dog understands to
wait. Do not use reprimands for this at the moment.
It is up to you to manage this training properly.
The dog should be in the sitting position and on
I . Teach TAKE by opening the dog's mouth and gently
placing the dumbbell in his mouth. Your
left hand is over the top of the dog's muzzle, thumb one side, fingers the
other. Pressing the dog's lips
against the teeth will cause him to open his mouth.
His dumbbell (held in your right hand) is immediately placed behind his
upper canine teeth and the dog is praised.
As soon as the dumbbell is in position, release the pressure on his
2. Teach HOLD by gently tilting the dog's head up with
your right hand under his chin and praise him.
Note the similarity between the two words HOLD and
NO. Differentiate between them with
3. Teach GIVE by carefully taking the dumbbell from
the dog's mouth. At first it may be
spat out at you. Later, if the dog
refuses to give on command, use your left hand over the dog's muzzle as
described in teaching TAKE above, gently press part of the lip against the teeth
until the dog releases the dumbbell. Immediately
remove your left hand and praise.
Use praise after
each of these steps to indicate to the dog that he has done what you commanded.
Do not be afraid to keep doing every one of these steps even after you
think he understands what you want. This
will lesson later confusion and disobedience.
You are teaching - training comes later.
Search & Rescue Dog Australia Inc. -A003705OF
We are a group of
individuals with highly trained dogs dedicated to finding lost people.
It is in this activity that a dog gets recognition and respect and also
shows his worthiness as a wonderful helper and companion for the human race.
his success internationally over decades in searches for people lost in
earthquakes, landslides, avalanches and mainly lost wanderers the I RO
(international Rescue Organisation) was formed.
I993, at the IRO Symposium in Stockholm, members agreed to a common testing
standard in anticipation to search in serious disasters side by side.
test has to be repeated yearly to qualify as operational.
Tests are as follows:
Tracking over 2,000Metre-
the age of the track has to be 3 hours, seven articles to be recovered, time
allotted is 60 minutes.
is a land test of 20,000 square metres in undulated wooded land.
Three people have to be recovered, time allowed is 30 minutes.
there is a buried victim test or commonly called - rubble test, over 200 square
metres. Three people are buried
which have to be recovered. There
has to be a distraction with machinery noise, smoke distraction or engine.
The time allowed for this is 20 minutes.
the watchful and impressed eye of the State Emergency Service Controller of Mr.
Brian McMannis, SARDA Peninsula tested and passed 4 dogs with honours this April.
has several SARDA groups attached to the S.E.S. - Western Australia and South
Australia is well known.
the I980's and until now we have helped many green beginners from Preliminary
Tracking Test right through to Track 5. Unfortunately too many handlers see this
as their only goal. For us, Search
and Rescue is more of a challenge. From
here we go on to use the skill and keenness the dog has developed in finding
people. For dogs with keen
retrieving drives, the search technique is easy to learn.
On the training ground they learn this in one weekend, to perfection.
challenge of training comes into play when the dog is sent out of sight and may
be distracted by rabbits, kangaroos, sheep or a bushwalker or maybe even a
dogs are trained to select the human scent out of a light air movement or a
breeze. This, he follows to the
source. Upon finding the immobile
unconscious person the dog will pick up the leather strip he carries on his
collar. The dog is not to bark or
otherwise frighten the person. Immediately
he will return to his handler by bringing him the leather, the handier then
knows the dog has been successful in finding the lost person.
All the handier now has to do is to clip the dog on a long lead and
follow the dog to the person.
with strong human attachment are taught this very easily.
They will only indicate an immobile or unconscious person.
The longer a person is lost in the field, the more their scent is
distributed into the environment. You
can compare this with a smouldering fire, polluting a large area.
There is no reason for people being lost in the wilderness for more than
24 hours. Certainly we have to
consider animals are not machines, we don't over-work or exhaust them especially
in warm, dry weather, care must be taken.
stands to reason that 8 search Dogs can only cover a limited area and we need a
lot more people active in this field with their dogs. We need many more people
to act as supporters and logistical personnel.
The dogs must be of Track 5 standard and we also help the handlers to get
this far. We would like to see in
many corners of the country a SARDA Group form and eventually search and train
training and outings are a lot of fun. We
are not required that often in searches. Should a trained dog only once in his lifetime be successful,
then this is a very worthwhile achievement.
Recently, two SARDA dogs assisted the Police in locating the remains of a
cadaver that had been buried for over 4 years.
any participation and information please telephone:
SARDAPeninsula on0I9-938857 -Rudi Klemm-97835I37
Cowan - 5977702I