How and what to train your retriever during a polar vortex - Part 3

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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 the final topic 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.

Read part one of this article on teaching basic obedience commands.

Read part two of this article on teaching the KENNEL and PLACE commands.

This week’s article is on HUNT IT UP.

Hunt it up is a great tool for upland hunters. Having a retriever that can mark and run to where a downed pheasant or grouse lies is incredibly valuable. But having a dog that can hunt up a crippled bird is money in the bank.

You can start teaching the HUNT IT UP command inside your home.

  • Start by picking up all dog toys on the floor in your home.

  • Next, place your dog on a SIT command in the middle of the floor.

  • Place (not throw) one of his toys on the floor away from him but where he can see it.

  • Now, release him from the sit command with the HUNT IT UP command.

  • When you begin doing this, it is important that you sound enthusiastic and excited, allowing the dog to feed off your energy and making the command sound fun.

  • Once your dog finds the item and picks it up, lavish him with praise.

  • Repeat the exercise, gradually increasing the distance of the item from the dog.

If you work on this often, it won’t be long before you can make a game of it by hiding the item in your house and having the dog search your house for the item once hearing the HUNT IT UP command.

When the weather gets nicer out, you can do this same drill out in the yard. Progress to using dummies and then birds and before you know it, your dog will be hunting it up on command.

Until next time, happy retrieving.

Steve Smith