Basic Training :: Retrievers

I'm Chris Akin. I own and operate
Webb Footed Kennels in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In the 30 years I've been doing
it, everything's changed. Number one, the dogs. They're so much better now than what they were. The techniques that we use. I
mean, they're completely different than they were thirty years ago and then the
main thing is the technology, you know. All the training equipment we used today, there's no comparison to what it was thirty years ago. You know in the retriever
world, I think we're a little bit different in the fact that we actually
train a dog to come to us, to go away from us, and to stop for us. What else is
there? 90% of their hunt they're under 100%
control. We want total death stares, still, be quiet,
leave everybody alone, leave everything alone, don't move, don't whine,
don't bark, don't anything. Just this statue type
stare, and then we kill one duck, you know, in a eight hour hunt, and we want them to
blast off like something from NASA, there and back, and then remain completely
still again until the next bill comes through which maybe six to eight hours

That's incredible what we ask
the dog to do. Any type of dog training has to start with something very simple
and build to something very difficult. Go by the steps. Train everything with a
leash train. Train everything with a leash, and I'll say it again, first, and then
polish it. That's what you use the e-collar for. Nothing more, nothing less.

The way we train retrievers it's crawl, walk, run. It is progressive
repetition, and when you do it in the right fashion, the dog has perfect
clarity in his mind. You have perfect clarity in your mind. So
that becomes a great team. He trusts you, you trust him. You know what he's gonna
do, he knows what you're going to do. It all goes together. You know, to train a dog to sit there
while the birds are coming in, and you're shooting, is a very, very big task. Guys,
there's nothing more important on a hunt than a dog to be steady.

Nothing. When
you're first teaching the dog to stay, on a retrieve, which is being steady. You
hold the dog back, you throw the retrieve. He's wiggling, squirming. You've got him by the leash, and he's working you over like he should be, okay, because he's not
trained not to. The bird gets to the top of the arc, you let him go, and say his
name. He shoots out there, gets the bird, comes back. He comes back. This time, you let him go at the top of arc. When you threw the bumper, top of
arc. Next time, you're gonna tell him to "sit." Kind of let him know you got that
collar on him. You're gonna throw it, you're gonna let it go a little bit
further. Remember, crawl, walk, run. Cut him loose with his name. He runs out and gets the bird/bumper, comes back. Next time, "sit,"
You remind him you got the leash again. You throw it. You let it get a little bit closer, almost to the ground.

Cut him loose. Say his name, let him go get the bird, come back. Then, "sit" and everything is going pretty good there. "Sit, sit."
Remind him again. "Sit." He's sitting there. It hits the ground. You send him. You'll be
amazed, if you'll do that for four or five days, how that dog will end up
learning to stay right there. Okay, now. Let's say we were down a few days
later on down the road, no leash. You throw the retrieve. Dog breaks off, all
you got to do say, "no," and nick him with the collar. He knows to get back to your side.

Very simple. Now, here's the thing. we're out in the backyard. It's you and
the dog, and you're throwing retrieves, the intensity level is not that great. As we
train steady, we want to always up ante a little bit. We want to make it
more distractful. We want to make it more intense. We want to make it more, and make that dog make his own decisions.

pexels photo 5732521

So now you've got to add something to it. You've
got to add the gun to it. You've got to add birds to it. You've got to have a guy throw
at a distance. Have that guy whooping and hollering, you know, throwing and you want to get on this dog. You getting on to the dog is not a negative thing. Getting on
a dog is training. Have somebody if you can, have him throw birds. Add the duck call to it. Add some whooping and hollering, like we all
having a great hunt. A lot fun hunt, which you're hopefully going to have. When we're training a dog on being steady. We try to get him to break. Okay? We're trying to
ante up the level, and when we do, we're saying every different kind of command
or different words. We may even say, "Hey Brett, did you kill that?" "Yeah, I got it."
"Brett, you see that?" now I'm saying words that i may even think of that they may say
during a hunting scenario. "Hey, shoot that cripple." or, you know, "Hand me some more shells," or if the dog's name is Boomer, I may say "Bullet, Banjo, Bacon." Do
anything you can to challenge, that's the word, challenge that dog to come off that
spot, and if that dog moves, apply pressure.
Remember, we're there to train.

We're there to make him better than he was
yesterday, but we're there to do it in a gradual way. Once we get that done, the
next thing we do is we go into force fetch. We teach the dog to fetch, hold, and
leave on command. Now "force fetch." the term, sounds pretty brutal, but it's
really not. It's a very simple deal. It's all about turning negatives into
positives. It's all about their mouth. 90% of people train it on the tailgate of
their pickup, back of their Ranger, or Mule, whatever they got, on the freezer in the garage.

Do it where it's up off the ground. That way you can see the dog
eye to eye. Everything's right in front of you. It's very easy, and it keeps you calm,
because this is not something that you want to lose your cool with. It's not
something that you want to get upset with. This is all about repetition. Every
day you've got to crawl, walk, run. Chip. Chip. Chip. This is not a one-day
session thing, but here's the great thing, you can do this in your garage, you can
do this at 9 o'clock at night, you can do it at 5 o'clock in the morning, you can
come home and do it at lunch, you know, if you can run to the house. It takes
5 minutes.

All you do, when you're doing force fetch is, you're putting
something their mouth in the beginning. Pet and love. Pet and love. Pet and love. Pet and love. You make this comfortable in their mouth. Once you do that, and they're
comfortable that in their mouth, then you start adding pressure. We can do it with
an e-collar on real low intensity. We can get in there, put it
on one, hit the button right there. The dog knows this bumper goes in their mouth,
they get petted all the time, so we start putting that negative pressure
on there, putting that thing in front of their mouth, you roll it in there and as soon as they do, you start petting and love, petting and love. Then you quit. Hit the button again, put the
thing in front of them, and about the third time you do it, they're gonna put their
mouth on it. you pet and love, pet and love, and they're like, "I get the collar on my neck, I
put it in my mouth, they turn it off." So now, we're gonna start putting it a little bit
further from them where they got to reach for it.

Once they started doing that, a little bit further. Then they'll goof the whole deal up and won't go for it all. Then you got scoot it back up here and then you get it to about four, five, six days into it, you can actually lay it on the tailgate,
tell them to fetch. if they don't do it, hit the button, they'll reach over and pick
it up. That's what you're trying to do. Now, we want that dog to fetch on command.
We want that know to reach out and grab hold that bumper when we tell it the
word fetch. We want him to hold it. We don't want him chomping on it, rolling it, cigar holding it out of his mouth. We want him holding it in the center, in his mouth, at
our side. Okay? Don't chew it and when we say "leave" we want him to give it to us. Keep everything easy. Put a lot of reps on this.

ask me how long does it take to force fetch a dog? About 20 sessions with us.
Reps is everything in force fetch. Reps, reps, reps, and you're
gonna have, say a third of the way through this thing, I mean that dog's
not doing any better today than it did Friday than it did on Monday. Who
cares? Just keep doing it. Just keep doing it, you
know, it'll finally come around..

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