McNeil Labradors

Early Puppy Retriever Training

Retrieving for a Labrador is an instinctive function.  However, puppies are not born knowing how to retriever.  This is an instinct that we need to help them develop.  

The earlier a puppy is introduced to bird wings or small birds, the better. You can start retrieving as early as 6 to 8 weeks, using a sock, toy, small puppy bumper or a bird wing. 

Sit down in the hallway of your home, or aother confined area so the pup has no choice but to come back to you.

Use the word "Here" or "Come" as you fetch the object.  Your choice of a fetching word is completely up to you but, remember to be consistent. When your puppy returns with the object, lots of praise - make the retrieving game a lot of fun.  Let the puppy show you what he has, don't take the object from him immediately upon his return, he's proud of his retrieve.  Taking the object quickly away every time may teach him that he won't get it back, hence, a game of chase the puppy.  Allow him to enjoy his victory for a minute before you take the object from him.  This method of "fetch and release" will pay better dividends in the long run.  Limit this activity to short and successful retrieves.  End with success.

Play the retrieving game several times a day and keep each session short and fun.  When your puppy consistently returns with the object, he is ready to graduate to the outdoors.  Continue to keep each session short and fun with a lot of praise.

Be careful that you don't allow the retrieving sessions to become a game of “chase the puppy”. If the puppy realizes that he has so much more space than the hallway, turns away and wants you to chase him, call his name and run in the other direction.  Prey instincts mean that your puppy is apt to chase you so let him come to you.

Gradually increase the distance you toss the object so the puppy goes a bit further each session.  When you've reached the point where your puppy is able to retrieve further than you can throw the object, ask someone to throw for you.  This will enable you to stretch the retrieving distance.  It also provides a distraction for the puppy knowing that someone else is now in the picture throwing the object.   Always keep in mind that praise is the reward for good performance.

Keep your training sessions fun.  The puppy is young and there is no reason to try to make the puppy steady. There will be plenty of time for obedience. The key to success is repetition and praise. Be consistent, with your training techniques and be sure to create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.  This is a great way to train and bond with your puppy. 

McNeil Labradors
Statesville, NC 28677

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Last Updated:  January 29, 2008

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Page Created By:  Margo Carter, McNeil Labradors

  Thought For The Day:

"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can
spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's
the best deal man has ever made." - M. Facklam