I've been negligent on updating Angus' progress. He's doing very well though he's now entered a shy period. He's solid with COME, SIT, MARK, BACK and DOWN by voice, hand and whistle. He's not so good with STAY and HEEL and he hasn't learned to honor at all. I decided to incorporate some training time in with the swim.
Angus at HEEL just after MARK and preparatory to BACK. MARK alerts him to an imminent retrieve and lets him know it's time to be watching for the fall. BACK sends him on his way. Please ignore the fat bald man. He's just a convenient bumper launch vehicle. Angus is slightly forward of where he should be but that's puppy enthusiasm. It's called creep and he'll get better with time and practice. Now is not the time to squelch enthusiasm with excessive control. Note how focused he is on the MARK.
And he's off.
Hitting the water with style, head up and eyes on the MARK. He's a very enthusiastic Retriever.
Heading out for the retrieve.
And delivery to hand. It's important at this stage to be very happy and keep calling him in. Don't give him a chance to stop and shake or drop the bumper in the water. We best avoid bad habits by not letting them develop. Coax him all the way up. He's not going to want to give that bumper up so set him up for the next MARK as soon as you take it away from him. Angus is getting the idea that if he gives it up he'll get to go again sooner.
Taking a line is important. It's also very hard to teach. It's much easier with a dog who keeps his head up and naturally takes a good line. You can't see it here but Angus had to go over an underwater obstacle and still kept his line. Retrieves are still short. Lots of success, minimal correction.
Here's a better look at a line on a longer retrieve. Angus is a very strong swimmer and takes a very good line. He's on that bumper. When he misses he circles and searches. If he still can't find it he looks to me. We'll be learning OVER shortly but I'm encouraged that he's already developed the trust that's so vital as we progress in his training.
The capture. He's completely unafraid to dunk his face.
Isn't he cute? I love that little guy.
If you look closely just ahead of my feet you'll see a small black dog with all four feet in the air, chasing the bumper and diving into the water. The bumper is still in the air just ahead of us. That's enthusiasm!
Miscellaneous Angus swimming and retrieving photos. Remember, this dog is only 15 weeks old.
A good time was had by all. I'm constantly amazed by how quickly Angus learns and how naturally he takes to retrieving. I shouldn't be, this is what he was bred to do but I can't help it. Every time he does something cool without input or with minimal training I giggle like a six year old. I'm a firm believer in letting a dog do what he was bred for. It makes for a happier, better adjusted and more even tempered dog. A retriever has just gotta retrieve. Apparently Angus is good at it. Now we'll see if the trainer is worthy of the pupil.