Ten tips for ultimate retriever training- Tip #4

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Continuing with our theme of ten tips for ultimate retriever training, today’s tip is:

Tip #4: Understand and use pressure correctly.

As David Bowie sang in his 2016 hit Under Pressure, “Pressure pushing down on me, pushing down on you…”

Pressure is a big part of retriever training. Pressure can be as simple as telling your dog NO when they are digging in the trash or simply pushing down on their hindquarters as you teach them to sit. More pressure is exerted as dog’s advance in training. For instance using an electronic collar correction for a failure to take a back-cast at 100 yards. But using pressure fairly and correctly is key.

Whenever you use pressure you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Does the dog understand why they are getting pressure?

  • If it is for doing something wrong will they understand why?

  • Is the pressure for enforcement or punishment and does the dog know which?

Also, it is important that you communicate correctly to your dog as I explained previously in tips 2 and 3.

The three types of pressure I would like to touch on today are:

  • attrition,

  • direct, and

  • indirect.

Let me give a training situation and explain how it would be handled with each type of pressure.

Let’s say your dog has been through yard work and is doing blinds. You notice that on one particular blind, halfway out your dog decides to give into factors, whether that be the wind, terrain, previous mark, or several other factors.

Using attrition, you would repeatedly stop the dog without any other forms of pressure and keep repeating the correct hand cast until they take it. O,r you may call them back to you and repeat the blind. You are essentially wearing down your dog to a point where they will listen to you and perform the correct task.

Using direct pressure, you would stop the dog immediately and give the dog pressure via the e-collar (assuming the dog has been collar-conditioned). You are correcting them instantly for the wrong behavior.

Using indirect pressure, you would stop the dog and give them pressure for a known command, such as SIT, then repeat the cast. The dog learns that they are being corrected for failure to try or giving up and will put in the correct effort.

Indirect pressure is most often used for lack of effort. You are correcting a dog for giving up a task and choosing to take the easy way out instead of the correct/desired one. In this case you are applying pressure on one command for failure to respond to another.

As previously mentioned, it is important with all types of pressure, that your dog understands what is required.

Lastly, your retriever should never be surprised from getting a correction. This will cause a dog to act sheepishly, always wondering when they are going to get punished. The dog must know why they are being corrected.

These are God’s creatures; treat and give them the respect, love, and fairness they deserve.

Until next time, happy retrieving.

Steve Smith