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So the new pup was 12 weeks on Tuesday just gone  had him for around a month and coming on well.

We have done very little, mostly just house manners, he comes back when called 99% of the time (although he hasn't found anything worth ignoring me over just yet) and will do tiny retrieves with a small tennis ball.

We only recently have been able to get out on walks, we might do 1-2 retrieves of a tennis ball whilst out, he normally gets out and finds the ball very easily, and comes right back. Normally you can take the ball as he comes right up to you. 

Now previously when in the house I would leave him with the ball and fuss him as he'd want to jump in my lap. Then after lots of fuss and cuddles I could quite easily have the ball and tell him what a good boy he is.

Problem I have now is - when we are starting to do the play retrieves when out he comes right back, but doesn't jump into my lap no more. If I lean down I can take the ball of him as he comes up to me but am cautious if I take it too soon, he may stop coming back. 
If I don't take the ball off him fairly quickly, he will tend to lie down near me once he is back, and he will put his head between his paws and seems to start trying to chew or play with the ball on his own. Obviously I can't get the ball off him like this, as he has his head tucked down low with his paws covering his head either side.

Not exactly what you would want from a great retrieve.

I would appreciate advice, as obviously he is very young still so don't want to do anything that may make this into a bad habit  thanks


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12 minutes ago, ips said:

I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination but the pup is only 12 wks old ?

Yes mate it's only play time atm, just wanted to check if theres something I should do now so I don't kick myself later for not doing it.

My initial thought was just do nothing and as he matures hope its alright :) 

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I don't understand. You are asking for basic advice, yet in the thread "which dog", you make it sound like you're an experienced trainer.

I personally would not let the puppy keep the ball to chew. This could well be a training aid in 3 - 4 months time.

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First thing is he is a puppy so let him have his time and wait till he is a lot older before worrying too much about things. As he is bringing the ball back just take it off him and give him loads of praise. That is enough reward and will not put him off bringing things back. I have been at it nearly forty years and it has never caused a problem. I never give food as a reward for a retrieve as it can lead to dogs spitting the dummy out later in anticipation. Some say it works for them but not for me. 

The important thing is to carry on doing the little things you are and relax serious, stuff does not start with my dogs until at lest eight months or more. I am currently training a lab and he has been so slow developing we are only starting advanced work at 17 months. Just go at the dogs pace and not your own or someone else’s pups.

good luck and enjoy your pup.

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I'd second the above.

I have used treats for retrieving in the past but ony as a last resort with dogs that are not keen on retrieving  (hpr's and dogs i've been given that are older, just got a 3 yr old cocker who does not retrieve anything, so will be getting treats shortly see if it helps)

But unless ur timings very good ur only asking for the dog to spit the dummy out wanting/expecting a treat.


Most trainers would be in no hurry to take the dummy of it and generally give praise after they have the dummy but i also know a champ winning spaniel trainer that does the oppisate loads of praise as dog has dummy in mouth then no paise once he has got it. His thinking is he's rewarding it for holding the dummy, while most common training has u rewarding the dog for giving up the dummy. Can see the logic


At that age i'd prob even get down and sit or even lie on the grass and let pup climb over me with dummy so it is quite happy coming close, loads of praise, high voice etc.

If u really don't want him lying like that wak on every time he lies down, just a few steps, or get down and play with pup rub its belly will likely roll over onto back (althou sometimes they open mouth as they roll over, had this with a yong lab once so possibly not the best advice, althou wasn't a major problem to fix)

U can tidy up delivery later on, althou i have to admit i never bother too much with delivery as don't do tests any more, so don't really care if dog sits or stands as long as delivers to hand

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19 hours ago, motty said:

I don't understand. You are asking for basic advice, yet in the thread "which dog", you make it sound like you're an experienced trainer.

I personally would not let the puppy keep the ball to chew. This could well be a training aid in 3 - 4 months time.

When have I said I was an experienced trainer? 

Ive trained two dogs in the past. a lab and a springer, both were good shooting dogs but not anything you would compete with.

I have experience of those as well as working with some lads who field trial so have picked up some knowledge from them. 

However, with my new pup it’s all a learning curve doing it all again. Also I’m hoping to run this dog in tests and if able trials so have much higher expectations. 

My labs retrieves were fantastic when I trained her, but my old springer would always move her head away from me when taking the retrieve and try to keep it, hence me asking for advice... 

Are people not supposed to ask for advice when they can see they need to improve something? ?

Edited by Lloyd90
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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep toys and work dummys separate, ie don't mix work and play. But don't start work yet, try and imagine what it would be like at 4 or 5 years old doing maths, spelling and then homework. When Taking tennis balls off him tell him "dead" or your choice of word. Dont change language's either, it gets very confusing for the little dog, i.e. sit means sit, not down but i mean sit, and why say lie down when just down is enough. 

Our Buster is 17 months now and going left, right, back, search and stop on hand signals. (Most of the time lol) Dont over talk either, you just become background noise, be stern but kind and don't forget they 're your rules, your the alpha. Get that wrong at the start and your dog will think they are alpha. 

Make lots of noise in the house, saucepan lids and all sorts got dropped when we picked ours up, firework recordings all sorts going on. 

But above all the carrot always gets more than the stick.  Kindness rules, he will never be unfaithful.


Oh and something I've noticed taking him for a pint and a bag of cheddars. Everyone who's got a dog will know better, listen to the advice and take out what "you" feel is good. 

Some bloke in my local tries to get Buster going, squeaking and calling out "cats"  people like that get put back in their box.  

Edited by Dougy
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Had 10 game dogs over my life  included 3 Labs, 1 GSP and then Viszlas. Had Corgis prior to that but they were hard working cattle dogs who enjoyed a morning hunting whenever.

I have never ever given treats to any of them. A word of praise, a pat and even a cuddle for doing well. I too believe you are a bit early in what you are doing. Behaviour training is far more important at this age but slowly and carefully. My dogs have all learned good manners from the day they arrived and have always lived in as part of home life.

Having said that I am not one who thinks the dog needs to be 18 months old before it needs to start learning. If it has the ability it will teach you more about hunting than you can teach it and all you need to do is channel it in my view.  IF it has a TOY in early life then make sure it is YOUR toy and the dog should learn to bring it back to you naturally.  When I first started dummy training I would have a small dummy in my pocket, just sticking out and as we walked I would let it drop out so the dog would see it but keep walking eventually slip the dog off the lead and ASK it to go fetch it for me.  I cannot remember a time when that dog has not brought it straight back as it is not his 'play thing', it is mine. 

The only problem I have ever found with this is when I trained a viszla  for a friend, in fact had the dog for the first six months due to his work committments. Eventually the dog was transfered but if we were pigeon flighting that dog would come and pinch some of my pigeons from alongside me and take them to his master.  Very funny to see, very intelligent dog.

Edited by Walker570
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Might I suggest that you make a point of taking the ball from him straight away upon retrieval - he may be uncertain as to why he has bothered if you then don't take the ball from him - as you know the act should be followed by praise ( I NEVER use food as treats ) - you could also try hiding the ball on your body somewhere and ask him to retrieve it - start off with just putting it under your arm where he can see it and, again, with loads of praise start hiding it behind you or inside your shirt etc until he is completely comfortable climbing all over you looking for the ball - the more interesting you make the game the more he will want to play. As already stated though, he is still very young so don't expect a Robot .

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Thanks lads, 

Around 16 weeks old now and getting better, at times comes back and sits although letting him jump on me and play. 

We only do 2-3 retrieves every 3-4 days, and don’t do them on other walks. Overall just keeping it all a big game and lots of fun :)  

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