Beau May 9th, 2007
The pup is really growing up now… he’s been going through an independent phase, but the training is working. A little more each day I find his responsiveness to commands is increasing. He is so eager to please, so enthusiastic, and so… vibrant in his zest for life. The only thing he really lacks is a quality field trainer!!! I believe he could do amazing things if I was more knowledgeable… today he stayed while I threw multiple “marks” or floating bumpers in the pond. I sent him for the first and without hesitation he dove right in, brought it back, then I sent him for the second and he brought it back. I threw one half-way across the pond… probably 50 yards out, and he swam out and back with confidence. I’m enjoying the time with him, and I hope to train him more effectively in the next few months. Many duck hunters would be using electric collars, live birds and many more tools to achieve a quality hunting retriever. I really don’t want to use the electric collar… he has a gentle temperament and somehow I think we would lose something. Many dogs can be very stubborn and refuse to learn or train, but thus far he is eager to learn at each step. We’ll keep training and trying new things. He may not become an extroardinary hunting retriever, and that’s okay. Somehow we’ll figure things out along the way.
Beau May 5th, 2007
A wet day today! But not because of rain… it was warm and partly sunny. I let the pup out earlier to play and he proceeded to get very muddy. So it became the day for the pup to learn to swim! During fall, late winter and over the past couple months I took the lab to the pond to play by the shoreline. He loved splashing in the water and racing up and down, but was a little hesitant to venture more than a few inches in, partly because the water was so cold I’m sure. So now the water is over 60 degrees, just perfect for swimming. The six-year old also wanted to swim in the pond, so we made it a family affair with Mom taking the pictures. It was actually great to have the young boy jumping and swimming in the water after his floatie toys, and I had my waders on to get in with both of them. I was suprised how ready the pup was however. I started out by coaxing him in the water so he could stand on his feet. Then I supported his chest and swung him in a circle in deeper water a few times. At first he didn’t like not having something under his feet. But by the third time he was paddling furiously, and I had an orange bumper to entice him. He loves toys, especially retrieving them. So after teasing him a little and letting him get the bumper in shallow water, I threw it out a little bit further a couple times. Then it was time… I threw it out about 10 feet in deeper water. Without hesitation he ran and jumped in the water after it. When he reached the deep water he just kept on swimming! Hooray! He grabbed the bumper and turned right around to bring it back. I think he was suprised at himself. After that there was no stopping him- he sat and stayed while I threw it out a little further each time, and jumped in to swim for it each time without hesitation. He loved it so much he was going crazy waiting for me to throw it. After five times, with the last one being about 20-30 yards out, I stopped him on a good note. He was ready for more, but I want to keep his enthusiasm up before he tired out. I didn’t mean to throw it out so far the last time, but he went right for it, and was swimming stronger than he had so far. I was really happy for him- certainly swimming should be natural especially for a Labrador Retriever, but he’s 7 1/2 months old now, and had never been swimming. I’ll keep training him and working with his enthusiasm, but so far so good!
I coax the dog into the water and help him swim in circles while supporting his chest.
The boy shows the Lab how fun the water is when he “retrieves” his own bumper! It was great to see the six-year old swimming in the pond also. He has been asking for weeks to swim in the pond (he takes lessons at the YMCA), but we waited until it warmed up enough. He wore shoes and a good life vest as well, and had a good shower after he finished!
I give the “Stay” command for the Lab to wait until I throw the bumper. Then as he quivers with excitement… “Back!” and he leaps in the water. He knows he can swim now, and is intent on the orange bumper… he wants to get it!
The Labrador’s fifth water retrieve… he doesn’t hesitate and paddles furiously.
The pup grabs the bumper and begins turning around.
Look at me! I got it! He was swimming really well after just 30 minutes in the water. I waited seven months for the water to warm up so his first time would be all fun. What a joy to see the Labrador swimming!
Beau February 25th, 2007
Hard to believe the “little guy” is almost 5 months old now… he grows so fast! Our training is going well, although the wet winter weather has dampened my enthusiasm a bit (not his of course!). We get outside almost every day, and still practice obedience and retrieves. As soon as it warms up I will try to get him in the water. I really think he’s “a natural” when it comes to retrieving and training… the only problems are with my consistency which I’m finding is the hardest thing to maintain. If nothing else, I try to do a little bit each day and hold him accountable for what he does know. I find that reinforcing his prior training pays dividends toward what he learns next. Perhaps that’s true with all of us! Think I’ll look for some professional training opportunities as well. What a wonderful dog he is… here’s a picture from a couple days ago.