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When to and how teach retrieving

I have a 12 week old female lab pup which I would like to train for bird hunting. I have started her on obedience commands such as sit, stay, down, heel, off, leave it. She learned them very quickly and is doing well with them. I have introduced her to a canvas bumper and at about 10 weeks, she retrieved nicely, but has since gone down hill and is more interested in playing with the bumper instead of bringing it to me. I want her to progress, but I do not want to make any mistakes that would affect her future potential. I completed a 4 session puppy obedience school with her and the trainer said she is a smart pup and I should get serious about training her properly. I would like to know of any literature you would recommend for training a pup, as well as any contacts in my area which is southeastern PA, Allentown and north. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

A twelve week old puppy is still very young. The fact that the pup was retrieving earlier and is now more interested in playing than retrieving is normal. Remember that pup's drives and interests evolve as they grow.

You can help pup along in a couple of ways.
First, set up exercises that giver her no other option but to return with the bumper. I will use a long hallway and throw the bumper down the hall. If she doesn't return the bumper, I pick her up and crate her, games over. if I can coax her back, then she gets another throw. Keep the lesson (2 or 3 throws) so that she will always want to play more.

Sometimes a stubborn pup can be enticed to come back to you if you play with a second bumper after throwing the first. The bumper you are tossing around and playing with will certainly look more inviting than the one she already got. As soon as she gets back to you and relinquishes the first bumper, throw the second one for her. Again, keep it short and fun.

As the pup gets older, I would strongly recommend that you force fetch the dog. It ensures reliable retrieving and delivery and addresses a myriad of control issues.

Best of Luck,

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retriever Kennel
Highland Retriever Kennel

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