Your four-legged pupil is ready for formal training to begin. This period takes us to the age of six months with the average retriever pup.

It’s now time to change our training methods from one of fun to one of expectations.

With this change in expectations our new team, both two- and four-legged pupils now have to find a good trainer or training program. This can be done by many methods. Finding a training program includes a well-written guide on how to teach your floppy-eared friend how to learn, as well as the game of expectations. The dog has graduated from the fun times of puppyhood to the more adult time of learning with the carrot and stick method. There are many training programs out there for retrievers and essentially 90 percent of the methods are the same. Some have slightly different patterns and drills, but almost all achieve the end goal of a well-trained gun dog through similar means.

The same can be said about finding a quality professional trainer. There are many good trainers across the country and most achieve their pupil’s success through the same methods. The use of electronics and the methods of using positive and negative reinforcement are quite similar in most training programs. Note that a good background check on your possible trainer and a visit to see them in action is suggested.

Whether picking a trainer or training program the one thing that is needed is consistency! Bouncing from trainer to trainer or program to program to try to achieve faster results will only serve to confuse the four-legged pupil. After all, the research was done on the front end of our decision to ensure that the future team has been put in the best possible position for success.

Once your program begins realize that it takes patience, understanding, and a steady hand. Keep your expectations high and the speed that your floppy-eared partner achieves goal at a realistic level. This will ensure success as the transition is made from a ball or fun and fur to a well-mannered and fearless hunting companion.

This article is brought to you by Soggy Acres Retrievers and DT Systems. Image courtesy Jeff Fuller/SportingDog TV