Once our 8-10 week old pups are retrieving in the yard with bumpers or feathers without running off or quitting, we introduce them to water. What I mean by that is, we are looking for pups that will not stop no matter how many times you throw a bumper. We are constantly looking for pups with a high drive. Pups that stop after 4-6 retrieves and just lay there or wonder off smelling around are usually sold as simply a family pet.
When a pup is nonstop and shows great interest in the retrieve, we up the excitement by taking them down to the pond. Because water is brand new to them, we are very calm, and will stand still for 5-10 minutes simply watching them sniff or run the bank. They usually begin to venture out into the water on their own and this is when we step in. We will stand in the water tossing the bumper within inches of the bank, letting them come out just far enough to get their stomach’s wet. Once they show no shyness to the bumper we will turn, still standing in the water and toss the bumper 5-10 feet off the bank, encouraging the pup to fetch it up.
A pup with a good drive will jump right in once they start to enter the water quickly or leap. We come out of the water ourselves and begin to throw normal 5-10 feet retrieves with the pup standing or sitting beside us. Remember, at this point we are not interested in any basic obedience commands, other than making sure that when they come out of the water, they come back to us. Again, praise is the reward and the more praise we give them when they grab the bumper and when they get back to us, the more excited they get to do it again.
There are two major things we do not want to do during this drill. One, is introduce a pup to water when it is cold, making it uncomfortable for them on their first time. They will get plenty of cold water retrieves in their hunting career. Two, is do not overdo it on their first few outings to the pond. Even though most of our pups have that drive, the last thing we want to do is overexert them. This can put them into a panic situation while swimming, which to a puppy is a bad experience and will lead to water shyness.
Ben, our black male pup, who was mentioned in our last article has sold. We currently have another 19 week old black pup for sale. This pup will be trained in basic obedience and is a very gentle, loving pup. He is great with our 6 and 8 year old kids as well as the other kennel dogs. He plays well with them but will also lay in the grass letting the kids pet on him for long periods of time. He will be a very loyal family pet.
Capt. Nathan Beabout
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
AB Kennels/M2 Breeding