William Powell Country

Water Retrieve


Article written by 13 September 2012

Introducing your dog to the water can be one of the main difficulties you may encounter in your training. It is a very temperamental exercise that can either go surprisingly smoothly or can be an absolute nightmare. But after I received some advice from Adrian Slater everything went according to plan.  The most important point, when introducing your dog to the water, is that you have to make sure you get it right first time. Because, if you frighten the dog, it will make it more difficult  for it to regain its confidence. The best, but not always a favourite approach to this, is go in with the dog. You can either go in a short distance at first to let the dog gain confidence in the area and then later on drive right in with it. But as I said its not always a favourite as you can probably tell why.

Now the basic points that will encourage and steady the introduction. Firstly, a still pond with plenty of shallow entry points is a must. With shallow entry points, it allows your dog to paddle a few inches deep, and familiarize itself with its surroundings. If your dog is not a very adventurous one, and prefers to stay away from the water altogether, the best way to solve this solution is to give your dog an informal introduction.  Simply allow your dog to play with other dogs within the surroundings of the pond. By doing this exercise it will release the dogs suspicion of the water because, of the other dogs energy level, and will gradually follow the other dogs either on the edge of the water or maybe even right in.

Once you are positive your dog is secure with the water you can then start the process of retrieving. Firstly, place your dog at your side and gently throw the ball 3-4 inches in the water. Then release the dog to retrieve it. Repeat this exercise, a recommended of several times, unless you feel your dog would benefit from more or less throws. The next step is to increase the throw of the ball. This time you want the ball to be far enough for your dog to get its chest wet. It is essential that you use a pond that has no ledges within the water that could allow the dog to fall off of it and lose confidence. Again repeat this exercise several times. Once you are satisfied that your dog is progressing well, you can then start to increase the distance of the ball by large amounts until the dog is swimming for the retrieve.

When introducing your dog to swimming, it is the same as above, It has to be done gradually and smoothly enabling you to have control of preventing mistakes that could damage your dogs confidence. In the beginning stages of the swimming introduction, make sure that, with the first retrieves, they aren’t too far, so that the dog can turn around and be back in the shallow parts quickly. If any mistakes are made, always repeat the exercise until, both you and the dog are confident to continue.

However, when you have reached the final hurdle of the exercise, there is always room for mistakes, the most common one is that the dog will go out for the retrieve and lose sight of it, the best way to avoid this problem is carry a spare tennis ball which you can then throw nearby the same one the dog lost sight of, and then you can “end on a good note” as Adrian says.

An important factor of the water, especially if you are considering entering your dog into trials  and so forth, is preventing the dog from shaking before it presents you the retrieve.  A simple and basic way to stop this from happening is by putting on a pair of wellies and standing in the water when the dog is retrieving. Then take the retrieve off the dog, still in the water, then letting it get used to shaking after you have taken the retrieve off of it. Gradually increase your distance from the water and encourage your dog to you to prevent it from shaking on land.

For any more information on Adrian Slater or how you can purchase a copy of his DVD ’Initial Puppy Training’ please visit www.kipperridge.co.uk or contact Adrian on 0151 531 0911

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