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Honors instead of retrieving

My dog, a 3-year-old golden retriever, has a self-confidence problem when working with other dogs. In Denmark where I live hunt tests among other things consist of an area search where two dogs are working in the same area. At first each dog honors the other when picking up one bird/rabbit, and after that both dogs searches at the same time in the area. But when my dog is sent and the other dog runs out too, he stops and is very hesitant. It looks like he thinks that he should honor the other dog instead of running out.

And another thing: 1) A couple of months ago my dog was attacked by a GSD that ran right through a fence to reach my dog. After that the sound of hasty running dogs feet makes him wait an attack. 2) I train with a flat-coated retriever breeder (he offers all his puppy buyers free training and I am invited to attend the training). His own young bitch is not very steady, but very dominant. And she has started to break, when my dog is sent for a mark. When he hears or sees her approaching, he stops and lets her steal his bird or dummy.

I like your good and very applicable advice and the gentle training methods on this list very much and hope you have some suggestions on how I could train this problem away and tell my dog that he is OK, even if the other dog runs out too.

Thanks for your help,


It sounds as though your dog is very concerned about other dogs. this was no doubt made worse by the attack and working him with a dominant dog in the field will make the problem very serious.

I would work your dog alone on some very easy marks with live or freshly killed birds. This will raise his desire for the retrieve and he will not have to compete with another dog.

When he is showing confidence and skill working alone, start working with a very submissive young dog in the field. Do not make your dog honor the other dog for several sessions. Your dog should get every retrieve when another dog is present. When it is clear that he no longer hesitates with another dog in the field, you can begin to make him honor but only about 1 out of every 4 or 5 retrieves. this will keep his desire and drive up.

Best of Luck

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retriever Kennel
Highland Retriever Kennel

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