Firstly, in order for your dog to be successful in retrieving dummies you need to make sure that from the outset you teach your puppy to want to be around you. As explained in previous articles, using reward training with food and play will strengthen their focus and the puppy’s willingness to want to stay with you.
To shift their attention on to dummies, you should ensure you are using the right type for your dog. With various styles and sizes the small details can cause the biggest problems. Dummies with floppy ends can sometimes encourage a puppy to want to shake it vigorously, whilst other kinds of toys that have squeakers inside them will often teach the puppy to bite down hard which could result in messy retrieves in the future.
Teaching the puppy what is the correct dummy/toy to retrieve can be tricky, which is why chews can be the alternative option for helping to keep them occupied. Playtime with toys or dummies can then be properly monitored ensuring the puppy’s skills are developing correctly.
Preventing your puppy from running away from you when out walking is an important aspect of dummy work. Start by keeping the pup close to you and keep the training sessions short and sweet, this continuous state will teach your puppy to stay close once out in the field. Don’t be too vocal, focus on the training and once this is mastered you can start implementing commands, if not your puppy will simply refuse to listen.
The environment in which you take your puppy also plays a huge part in the success of dummy retrieving. Putting some thought into what the puppy might encounter whilst out training is a necessity.
Progression is key. Using the layering up process is an efficient training technique, build sit-stays and recalls by slowly increasing the distance the puppy has to travel, limit any distractions and keep the rewards for your puppy coming back to you high. The puppy must learn everything thoroughly at close range before progressing to ‘on the whistle’ distance. Remember, rushing will only restrict your puppy and inevitably you.
Introducing gunfire can take time. Clapping your hands when a dummy is thrown or when it is time for food will help the puppy understand that loud noises will fundamentally bring him some kind of reward. Gradually incorporating distant gunfire into play-related dummy training will eventually teach the puppy how to remain calm and focused when out in the shooting field.
Overall, if you are to maintain complete control of your enthusiastic pup in the shooting field you need to be consistent in perfecting these training techniques. Yes, this will take time and effort but ultimately the rewards and fun for you and your dog will be limitless.