Last weekend, my friend Janice and I took our dogs (Enzo the Poodle and Tooey the Irish Water Spaniel) up to British Columbia to take a beginning retriever workshop. I had a wonderful time, and learned a lot.
Mostly, I learned that I need to be the pilot of our retriever team. And that I need to remind Tooey that she is the co-pilot. You’ll see some of the methods we learned in the videos below.
Basic things to work on:
- Stay steady on the line: Tooey is not nearly as bad as Cooper at this, but still, I don’t want it to get to be a real problem later. So we worked a lot on heeling to and staying steady at the line. It’s not simply a matter for correction, it’s also a matter of our relationship and her respect for me as the pilot. You’ll notice that the correction is physical and dramatic, but done without resorting to an e-collar (thank God).
- Enforce the Recall: When I say “Here”, Tooey has to come. If she’s within 10 feet or so, I have to go get her and remind her to come. The correction here is also physical, dramatic, and done without an e-collar.
- Teach Hold again: I was very, very happy to see Tooey picking up ducks again. But she seems to have forgotten that “Hold” means to not drop the duck. This isn’t on the video, but I was shown a method for re-teaching the Hold. Tooey responds to treats, so I will be incorporating that into our Hold lessons.
- If, after the Recall and the Hold are solid, the Fetch is not good, then I’ll teach that again. (Not sure how I’ll do that, but I’ll worry about that when/if I get there.)
The first video covers on the land work, and the second covers water work.
The pro, Anne Everett, is making her own video, so I have edited out all the instructions and comments she made to other participants and to the gallery. If you want to contact her for more info, go to her website.
And just some side notes: This workshop was Lab-free. There were Goldens (Anne raises Goldens), Tollers, Poodles, Flat-coats, an Airedale, and one Irish Water Spaniel. It was useful to see all these “exotics” at work, and to get specialized help for dogs who are not the-ubiquitous-at-hunt-tests Labrador Retrievers. And also, most of the participants were women, which I found refreshing.