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She isn't a Golden but she is a retriever and we are training without treats.
Big retrieve for a little girl, over 100 yards and mostly water. She can't see the bumper until she gets pretty close so it takes a lot of confidence to push all the way across. The first bumper drifted way to the right with the wind. Lily was being very good, not swimming toward the launcher, so I shot another one when she got close.
She was dropping the bumper at the end, not something to worry about too much in the field, we'll take care of that in the yard. At this stage building desire and having fun are the main goals.
I'm impressed at the water entry from such a distance for such a young puppy. Go Lily!!
 

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A lot of people seem to get lost in the forest when talking about specific training techniques. Our primary focus should be on getting the pup trained to be obedient. This basic training is necessary to protect your dog from harm. A poorly trained dog or untrained dog is AT RISK!

Having a dog that will 'recall' when called, sit when asked (both good if your dog gets lose), heel when walking on lead (so the dog can be exercised properly), and 'Leave it' and/or 'Drop it' (Have you ever dropped a prescription pill?) when asked! These and a few other basic commands that makes our wonderful companions better dogs and safer dogs.....

All people who train must use a method that they are comfortable with, what works for one person or dog, many not work for the next pair!

So newbie's... research and consider all your training options. Do your research and homework on different methods, and better yet, take an obedience class or two and learn with your dog how to train obedience....Good Luck
 

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A lot of people seem to get lost in the forest when talking about specific training techniques. Our primary focus should be on getting the pup trained to be obedient. This basic training is necessary to protect your dog from harm. A poorly trained dog or untrained dog is AT RISK!

Having a dog that will 'recall' when called, sit when asked (both good if your dog gets lose), heel when walking on lead (so the dog can be exercised properly), and 'Leave it' and/or 'Drop it' (Have you ever dropped a prescription pill?) when asked! These and a few other basic commands that makes our wonderful companions better dogs and safer dogs.....

All people who train must use a method that they are comfortable with, what works for one person or dog, many not work for the next pair!

So newbie's... research and consider all your training options. Do your research and homework on different methods, and better yet, take an obedience class or two and learn with your dog how to train obedience....Good Luck
Great post.
I would add this; Obedient dogs obey your commands from 100+ yards away just the same as if they were 1 foot from you.
 

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Great post.
I would add this; Obedient dogs obey your commands from 100+ yards away just the same as if they were 1 foot from you.
love the videos of Jake and Lily. I have a golden puppy a little younger than Lily who is a great swimmer but doesn’t seem to like to swim despite being an excellent swimmer. He also doesn’t seem interested in retrieving. I’ve been watching the Hillman videos and trying to get him excited but he so far isnt excited. Do you have any suggestions to get him excited to retrieve? He’s a field bred golden from hunting pedigrees so I am optimistic that he will eventually get retrieving.
 

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love the videos of Jake and Lily. I have a golden puppy a little younger than Lily who is a great swimmer but doesn’t seem to like to swim despite being an excellent swimmer. He also doesn’t seem interested in retrieving. I’ve been watching the Hillman videos and trying to get him excited but he so far isnt excited. Do you have any suggestions to get him excited to retrieve? He’s a field bred golden from hunting pedigrees so I am optimistic that he will eventually get retrieving.
Have you tried any birds such as a live pigeon?
A duck or pheasant wing well also usually get a pups interest.
Work on getting him to chase anything you can, that is the first half of a retrieve and the most fun for a dog. Hopefully you can get him interested then don’t overdo it with the birds want to retrieve anything else.
Do anything you can to make it fun for your pup and always leave them wanting more.
Jake retrieved well from the start but he wasn’t crazy about it. Other things would capture his interest. Pups need to get that curiosity out of their system. Try going for a walk in a field or near A pond or river. Let him explore all he wants and just once or twice throw something for him to retrieve. Do this for a few weeks slowly increasing the number of retrieves and making them the highlight of his day every day.
 

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We are having some selective hearing challenges with Darwin. He is super smart and has learned a lot but definitely has a "I'll listen when I feel like it" streak. Granted he feels like it 85% of the time, but the other 15% can be pretty frustrating, and often occur in situations where listening is most important. i.e. when he's playing with other dogs, when there are other people around, etc. He is 15 weeks old. How much of it is just that he's a puppy? How solid should we expect his recall and attention to be at his age? I don't want to err on the side of being too lax about it, but I also don't want to have unfair expectations of him.

Any suggestions for how to really get that recall down and get him to pay attention in the face of really fun distractions like puppy friends and potential people friends?
 

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Thanks for the warning! Not what I want to hear, but definitely what I need to hear LOL. I have heard that the front clip harnesses make the pulling uncomfortable (vs making it easier for them to pull), so I would be interested to hear how that works with Windsor! Beckett’s Kurgo car harness has a front clip, actually, but it’s a tad big on him so if he pulls with that it just moves to the side and he’s still able to keep going.
We tried the front clip harness yesterday -- took him to Venice Beach. And totally night and day when compared to previous beach trips when he was littler (our little monster would drag me all throughout the sand having me off balance). I fully support it! It gives him just a little tug back when he wants to go too much ahead of me, and with that little tug, he comes back. It's a correction that more serves as a reminder than a firm correction, so it's great!
 

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We tried the front clip harness yesterday -- took him to Venice Beach. And totally night and day when compared to previous beach trips when he was littler (our little monster would drag me all throughout the sand having me off balance). I fully support it! It gives him just a little tug back when he wants to go too much ahead of me, and with that little tug, he comes back. It's a correction that more serves as a reminder than a firm correction, so it's great!
Thanks for the update! Glad to hear that it worked well- especially in Venice where there’s just...a lot going on usually LOL.
 

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Have you tried any birds such as a live pigeon?
A duck or pheasant wing well also usually get a pups interest.
Work on getting him to chase anything you can, that is the first half of a retrieve and the most fun for a dog. Hopefully you can get him interested then don’t overdo it with the birds want to retrieve anything else.
Do anything you can to make it fun for your pup and always leave them wanting more.
Jake retrieved well from the start but he wasn’t crazy about it. Other things would capture his interest. Pups need to get that curiosity out of their system. Try going for a walk in a field or near A pond or river. Let him explore all he wants and just once or twice throw something for him to retrieve. Do this for a few weeks slowly increasing the number of retrieves and making them the highlight of his day every day.
Thank you very much. Great advice. I haven’t tried birds yet but will. He is definitely not interested in his bumpers but has shown a little interest in a ball that he came upon in a field we were walking in. I threw it for him a few times and he did retrieve it. We did that a few times He also will retrieve some of his soft toys in the house when I toss them. I really appreciate the advice.
 

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Thank you very much. Great advice. I haven’t tried birds yet but will. He is definitely not interested in his bumpers but has shown a little interest in a ball that he came upon in a field we were walking in. I threw it for him a few times and he did retrieve it. We did that a few times He also will retrieve some of his soft toys in the house when I toss them. I really appreciate the advice.
That's great, whatever a pup likes to retrieve is fine (just don't throw any sticks for him). As his enthusiasm builds you will be able to incorporate bumpers. Soft toys are great for retrieving in the house. Our local Farm and Home store has stuffed toys with squeakers and even ducks that quack when squeezed. They really capture a pups attention. I don't allow pups to play with them unless we are playing fetch together. Don't want them thinking the toy is theirs, it is your toy and sometimes you let the pup retrieve it for you.
 

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Brady Aedan Finch and Wren
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We are having some selective hearing challenges with Darwin. He is super smart and has learned a lot but definitely has a "I'll listen when I feel like it" streak. Granted he feels like it 85% of the time, but the other 15% can be pretty frustrating, and often occur in situations where listening is most important. i.e. when he's playing with other dogs, when there are other people around, etc. He is 15 weeks old. How much of it is just that he's a puppy? How solid should we expect his recall and attention to be at his age? I don't want to err on the side of being too lax about it, but I also don't want to have unfair expectations of him.

Any suggestions for how to really get that recall down and get him to pay attention in the face of really fun distractions like puppy friends and potential people friends?
Long line :) And start at a further distance from the distraction(s), I would reward heavily for a crisp recall, and gradually move closer. Either hold or step on the line so you have control.

At 15 weeks he should be pretty solid, although as adolescence hits you need to really start working on the recall again.

Calling away from other dogs should probably be done in a class situation where the instructor and other teams are working towards the same goals until he starts to realize Come means Come (or here etc) if your pup does not have a foundation of coming. Use a leash/long line when you cannot control the environment.

You need to be able to set him up for correct responses that can be rewarded or if you are a traditional trainer, for correction/punishment for failure... btw: I use personal play for recalls far more often than treats. Even if you are a traditional trainer, remember to be fair to your dog - this was hammered into me during the 80s but applies to reward based training as well: work distance, duration & distraction each separately. More clearly, if you decide to work distance, lessen all distractions and then slowly introduce the distractions at that same distance.

The other side is preventing your dog from making bad choices : for a dog who is not solid on his recall, calling your dog from play with other dogs is setting your dog up for failure and not really fair, if you need your dog to come, go & get him so he does not get to practice not coming.

You can also use tricks and other cues to prevent the situations where your dog may refuse to come. He sees a favored person approaching, put him on a sit. Person can only interact with your dog if he is sitting. A solid down command would also work. My dogs, even my puppy (20 weeks old) default to coming to heel while we are hiking or walking and people and or dogs come towards us. They are simply not allowed to play with dogs I do not personally know. So it never becomes a habit to expect being able to play with strange dogs.
 

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We are having some selective hearing challenges with Darwin. He is super smart and has learned a lot but definitely has a "I'll listen when I feel like it" streak. Granted he feels like it 85% of the time, but the other 15% can be pretty frustrating, and often occur in situations where listening is most important. i.e. when he's playing with other dogs, when there are other people around, etc. He is 15 weeks old. How much of it is just that he's a puppy? How solid should we expect his recall and attention to be at his age? I don't want to err on the side of being too lax about it, but I also don't want to have unfair expectations of him.

Any suggestions for how to really get that recall down and get him to pay attention in the face of really fun distractions like puppy friends and potential people friends?
That's pretty good for a 15 week old puppy.
A general rule of training is, don't give a command you can't enforce.
As mentioned a long line works great. With small puppies I like parachute cord. At 15 weeks you may want 1/4 or 3/8 rope.
It is very important that your pup be very solid on sit before moving to recall or any other command. Sit means sit but it also means pay attention, focus on the handler for further instruction. 15 week old pups don't grasp all of that but every day they gain a little.
I would also suggest training sit to whistle in addition to the voice command. This is a nice whistle for obedience and yard training.
A toot from a whistle doesn't have to be loud to overcome distractions and get a pups attention. Much better than yelling to get his attention. Volume of voice and whistle is another training tool if used correctly.
 
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That's great, whatever a pup likes to retrieve is fine (just don't throw any sticks for him). As his enthusiasm builds you will be able to incorporate bumpers. Soft toys are great for retrieving in the house. Our local Farm and Home store has stuffed toys with squeakers and even ducks that quack when squeezed. They really capture a pups attention. I don't allow pups to play with them unless we are playing fetch together. Don't want them thinking the toy is theirs, it is your toy and sometimes you let the pup retrieve it for you.
We have a few soft toys that squeak and a duck that squeaks. I will put them up and use them for retrieving and as special toys.
 

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Long line :) And start at a further distance from the distraction(s), I would reward heavily for a crisp recall, and gradually move closer. Either hold or step on the line so you have control.

At 15 weeks he should be pretty solid, although as adolescence hits you need to really start working on the recall again.
Thanks! That reminds me that we HAVE a long line. I'll start taking him in the backyard with it. It was super hot for a bit so we weren't able to take him out as much as we wanted, but it's been much cooler this week so we should really get him out there during training times to work through distractions. It's the best option we have right now--we've been warned that not only is this a bad place for Parvo generally, but that this year is a bad year even for here. We've basically been told not to put him on the ground anywhere that we don't KNOW is safe. I just can't wait til he's fully vaccinated and we can consistently work on how he responds to strangers and dogs without it having to be a big production to figure out where we're going--we can just go to the park across the street from our home!

We tend to be mostly reward based, though I've noticed that he finds attention very rewarding too, so we mostly don't treat him anymore for sit and down, since he's pretty good at them. One thing I've GOT to stop doing in situations with other dogs is letting how other owners react to their dogs make me doubt myself. 90% of the dogs I meet are not as well-behaved as I want Darwin to be, so that must mean 90% of owners aren't doing things the way I should. He's signed up for Puppy Obedience at a local AKC obedience club starting end of August and I can't wait.

That's pretty good for a 15 week old puppy.
A general rule of training is, don't give a command you can't enforce.
As mentioned a long line works great. With small puppies I like parachute cord. At 15 weeks you may want 1/4 or 3/8 rope.
It is very important that your pup be very solid on sit before moving to recall or any other command. Sit means sit but it also means pay attention, focus on the handler for further instruction. 15 week old pups don't grasp all of that but every day they gain a little.
I would also suggest training sit to whistle in addition to the voice command. This is a nice whistle for obedience and yard training.
A toot from a whistle doesn't have to be loud to overcome distractions and get a pups attention. Much better than yelling to get his attention. Volume of voice and whistle is another training tool if used correctly.
Ooo, thank you! A whistle is SUCH a good idea. I really hate yelling in general--with a whistle I won't worry about whether he's even heard me or not. And I won't risk using 'come' during a conversation and confusing him. We use 'okay' as a release word and I have definitely inadvertently released him a few times by saying it in conversation with my husband after I've put him in a stay. Oops.

He is really good at sit ... until there are distractions! Definitely something to work on.
 

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One thing I've GOT to stop doing in situations with other dogs is letting how other owners react to their dogs make me doubt myself. 90% of the dogs I meet are not as well-behaved as I want Darwin to be, so that must mean 90% of owners aren't doing things the way I should.
Just the simple fact that you realize this places you well above average as a dog trainer, or at least the potential to be one. Many people just "don't get it". That is how my training friends and I describe quite a few handlers. It isn't meant to be mean or judgemental, just a factual description. We try to help them, point out the errors they are making and what they need to do differently but the next day they revert back to square one.

He is really good at sit ... until there are distractions! Definitely something to work on.
Yep, just introduce the distractions in a controlled situation. You need to set him up to both fail and succeed so corrections and rewards are clearly understood.

An easy way to start enforcing sit is to get the pup excited playing and randomly toot the whistle or give a voice command. Praise him for sitting but keep him sitting briefly until you release him to play again.

When he gets that down make him sit then leave his sight, go to another room, if outside walk around your yard shed, some bushes, the house........ Briefly at first, longer as he gets the idea.
 
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Just the simple fact that you realize this places you well above average as a dog trainer, or at least the potential to be one. Many people just "don't get it". That is how my training friends and I describe quite a few handlers. It isn't meant to be mean or judgemental, just a factual description. We try to help them, point out the errors they are making and what they need to do differently but the next day they revert back to square one.


Yep, just introduce the distractions in a controlled situation. You need to set him up to both fail and succeed so corrections and rewards are clearly understood.

An easy way to start enforcing sit is to get the pup excited playing and randomly toot the whistle or give a voice command. Praise him for sitting but keep him sitting briefly until you release him to play again.

When he gets that down make him sit then leave his sight, go to another room, if outside walk around your yard shed, some bushes, the house........ Briefly at first, longer as he gets the idea.
I had basically this convo with my husband the other day after someone suggested all puppies should have no-pull harnesses or gentle leaders or what have you. I feel like many owners are fine with that, and no judgment here, as long as they are happy and their dog doesn't harm anything or anyone or itself. But I want Darwin to learn not to pull, not just have a tool that prevents his pulling. Essentially, Darwin is a pet, not a working dog. But I want him to feel like a working dog, in terms of being tired at the end of the day and being biddable and trustworthy with people, other animals, and in new situations.
 

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But I want Darwin to learn not to pull, not just have a tool that prevents his pulling.
(y)(y)(y)
Glad to hear that.

Something interesting, at this years NARC there were over 150 dogs entered. The majority could be described as fire breathing maniacs about retrieving. I did not see a single harness at the event.

When it is their turn to run, the handler and dog must walk to the line, no collar or lead allowed.The dog must then remain at heel until the birds are thrown and the judges signal that the dog can be sent.

On a couple tests the dog must honor as another dog retrieves. "Honor" means sit at heel in a designated place near the working dog and remain sitting while the birds are thrown and shot and the working dog is sent to retrieve.

Kind of makes walking at heel with no distractions seem like small potatoes doesn't it?
 

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If you want ideas on what we mean by distractions using a wide variety of things, it is more commonly known as proofing. The idea is to start in a quiet environment and gradually expand your pup's understanding by layering experience. Dogs are situational, and do not generalize easily - so a recall in your kitchen is not the same as a recall in your yard, or a recall at a park, or a recall at any type of dog event. So even very experienced trainers need to regularly 'go back to kindergarten' in new environments as they build their dogs' understanding of any given task.

I will give you an example of what my pup will be introduced to today (I am on vacation). I have rental at a facility she is comfortable in, she has the distraction of my dogs and often friend's dogs working or being crated around her. Distractions also often include whistle & pile work (field training) going on outside or obedience work in the next ring. I am still working on basics so ... her sit stay I can leave her, turn around and return to her or call her at a distance of 40 feet fairly reliably ... today she will be introduced to a new factor - I will put a squeaky toy in my hand and squeak it once I turn around ... I will reduce my distance to 6 feet and gradually increase the distance again. And this will be done in front of a mirror so I can watch her body language to help prevent a break :) This will be interspersed with recalls -- should she stay or should she come? this will help her learn that a stay in position is required unless another cue is given.

So please don't think there is anything wrong with your dog or your training if your dog does NOT come 1st call when he is excitedly chasing a squirrel if a massive foundation of built up experiences has not yet happened. The leash/rope can be your best friend while training a puppy in an unconfined area where you cannot control the environment.
 

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Glad to hear that.

Something interesting, at this years NARC there were over 150 dogs entered. The majority could be described as fire breathing maniacs about retrieving. I did not see a single harness at the event.

When it is their turn to run, the handler and dog must walk to the line, no collar or lead allowed.The dog must then remain at heel until the birds are thrown and the judges signal that the dog can be sent.

On a couple tests the dog must honor as another dog retrieves. "Honor" means sit at heel in a designated place near the working dog and remain sitting while the birds are thrown and shot and the working dog is sent to retrieve.

Kind of makes walking at heel with no distractions seem like small potatoes doesn't it?
I bet most of these dogs were trained using e collars and or prong or choke collars! I have been around field training dogs for over 25 years and their trainers....and most use these tools...! Yet in all hunt tests, field trials, and NARC type events, no collars or harnesses are allowed...
 

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I bet most of these dogs were trained using e collars and or prong or choke collars!
I guarantee that every one of them wears an e collar every training day and they love it. Properly trained retrievers know, when the e collar gets put on the fun is about to start.
 
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