ENCOURAGE YOUR PUPPY TO RETRIEVE

A strong tendency to carry things around in his mouth is your first indication that you have a retriever puppy.  Here are some dos and don'ts to encourage this tendency, and to fully develop his ability to work as a gundog and perform the duties your dog was bred for.

Incidentally, the Golden Retriever is much more that a pretty show dog and can demonstrate those characteristics for which the breed was developed.  When you remember just how much dedication and effort it took to establish and stabilize the breed so that we can enjoy them so much, it seems dreadful to just allow it all to fade away through lack of interest.  A dual-purpose dog should be our aim.

Carrying socks, shoes, rolled newspaper, etc is natural.  It's in his nature - he's a retriever.  If you discourage him from doing this now, how will you be able to make a retriever out of him when he grows up?  If you don't want special possessions carried about and (sometimes) eventually chewed, don't put them within reach.  Shoes in cupboards are safe from sharp puppy teeth!

As you go about your daily routine, in and about the house, or walks in the park, your puppy will find all sorts of things to pick up for you.  The way you receive these "gifts" is, in my opinion, one of the most important steps you will ever take.  When my pup first went out into the big wide world he found a million things for me.

For instance, the four worst "ghastlies" that I have been "pleased" to accept from my dog were;

·       three-quarters of a dead bird (presented with two yellow feet protruding from the side of his mouth

·       a rotting chicken rib cage (he really didn't want to part with that one)

·       a possum tail - (eeeeek!)

·       a snapper head - (no comment)

It got to the stage when I seriously considered wearing rubber gloves when we went for a walk!  The point is though; that he was happily retrieving to hand what in his mind were priceless gifts that I was anxiously awaiting. (Wasn’t I?)

Dogs are not revolted by such things and if I had reacted with screeches of horror, he would have been reluctant to share his treasure a second time and there probably wouldn't have been a third time.  The message is loud and clear for you, the handler.  Accept with enthusiasm whatever your pup retrieves for you, gently remove it from his mouth with the command "Give" and lavish praise on your clever enterprising pup.

Don't teach your pup to drop the item on the ground at your feet - you'll have a real ordeal on your hands when you later want him to deliver to hand.

If your puppy won't "Give", place the index finger of each hand where the jawbones meet and press - don't be rough.  Repeat the command "Give" and remove the object.  Give your pup heaps of praise.  Don't, whatever you do, have a tug of war with him.  You'll finish up with an enormous problem that you might never be able to correct later.

If your puppy won't come to you when called, squat down, with your arms spread wide and call your puppy in a bright happy voice.  Don't give chase.  It will turn into a game of tag that will become a problem.  If your puppy still won't come, call him and run as fast as you can away from him.  You'll find him galloping along beside you in a very short space of time.

A working retriever is a joy to behold, please encourage and foster his instincts - don't do anything to suppress his natural retrieving ability.