Ten tips for ultimate retriever training- Tip #8


Today’s tip is:

Getting the most value out of praise.

When people praise us for everything we do, the praise loses its value. It becomes like background noise.

It’s the same with dogs. Syrupy, nonstop praise does not help you train your ultimate retriever.

Praise needs to be appropriate, received, well timed and not an excuse.

Appropriate praise

When first teaching a puppy to SIT, we can praise the dog with words, petting, and treats for performing the task. But when a dog is older and knows the command, the praise does not carry the importance nor is it needed. Always be sure praise is actually earned.


I have often heard trainers commending their dog by saying GOOD DOG when the dog is accomplishing a 100 yard plus retrieve. It is unlikely the dog can even hear the handler at this distance. I believe the handler says it more for his/herself than for the dog.

For praise to work, the dog must be able to hear you, as well as be in the correct state of mind.

Well timed

Saying GOOD DOG needs to be immediately after the dog performs the act you asked for.

Many people understand that you shouldn’t punish a dog several hours after a previous offense. The same goes with praise. When used, the dog needs to understand it is associated with a desired action.

Not an excuse

When you praise your retriever for sitting, whether you use words or petting them, the dog should not change into a crazy dog and starts jumping all over the place.

You need to be able to have your dog sit and be able to pet them and/or tell them they are good without having them leaving the SIT position. Praise is never an excuse for being unruly.

Until next time happy retrieving.

Steve Smith