How and what to train your retriever during a polar vortex - part 2

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For those that live in the Midwest, you are aware of the very cold weather we have been having this winter. Spending a large amount of time outside with your retriever can be really be hard on them, especially if they are young. So, how does one train their retriever when it is not safe for man or beast outside?

This is part two of a three-part article covering different aspects of training that can be done inside with your retriever during the winter months when you are unable to do much outside.

To read last week’s article

This week’s article is on two specific commands: KENNEL and PLACE.

KENNEL is a command we use to direct our dogs to their crate. It is one of our prime commands because it is never fun wrestling a dog into a dog crate. With the KENNEL command you can teach your dog to go peacefully and willingly into his crate when asked. Teaching this command is relatively easy if you start when the dog is a pup. Simply say the word KENNEL each time you place the puppy in the crate. Then praise them with a small treat or by petting them before closing the door. Through repetition this command will become solid.

The PLACE command is a little harder to teach but especially important for duck and goose hunters that want or need their dog to sit in a specific spot in the duck boat or blind. This process will take some time, so plan to work on it a few minutes every day until the dog understands.

Step one:

  • Teach this command is by putting a towel or blanket on the floor and have the dog sit on it.

  • While they are sitting on the towel, pet them and repeat the PLACE command several times.

  • Next, on leash, walk them away from the towel and then make your way back to the towel. As you walk toward the towel, repeat the command several times as you again have them sit on the towel. Praise them.

  • Repeat this sequence several times.

Step two:

  • With the leash still on, extend the distance away from the towel. Don’t get so far away from the towel that the dog cannot see it.

  • As you progress on this command, you will get to the point where you no longer need to hold the leash. Do not remove it just yet. Instead, let the dog drag it as you walk toward the towel saying the command.

You will know that the command is solid when you can remove the leash and from anywhere in the house say PLACE and your dog will go to the towel and sit down.

If you experience any breakdowns in the training, simply back up a step to where they can perform the task and progress from there.

Next week we will discuss teaching your dog HUNT IT UP, a great tool for those of you who love upland hunting.

Until next time, happy retrieving.

Steve Smith