Retrievers were born to retrieve. However, if you are planning to train your retriever to work, then you must do everything you can while the pup is young to encourage and foster this drive. Drive and your relationship with your dog are the foundation stones that you will be building on over the next year or two. Play retrieving games with him, encouraging him to come back to you. I have seen on a number of occasions, handlers of working retrievers who concentrate on the obedience and steadiness to such an extent that the young dog is very hesitant about retrieving, and often will not run out to pick up a dummy at all. My advice to these handlers is to forget about the obedience and control for a couple of weeks, and PLAY with your dog. You want, above all, a happy puppy who just LOVES to retrieve.
Obviously, you will be teaching your pup good manners when around people and other dogs, as well as some basic commands such as sit and come, but what you will also be doing at least a couple of times a week is take your pup for a walk, off-lead on a trail, or through a field, exploring the surroundings as a team. He will learn to negotiate rocky ground and tall grass – he will learn to cross streams and swim in dams – he will be building his confidence in himself and his trust in you.
Don’t think that training your retriever only starts at 6 months. There is an enormous amount of work you can do before the time to give your pup a headstart with the retrieving game.
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