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Breaking Bad Behavior

What to do if your retriever won’t stop whining or can’t sit still
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“Dogs are generalists,” Tackett continues. “They are going to do what they’re trained to do. If your dog has never been in a boat and you take it hunting, you’re going to get exactly what you put into it.”

In addition to introducing the dog to different types of hunting environments beforehand, Tackett suggests that reinforcing basic obedience will likely make the duck boat pacer more at ease. “Once the dog is in the boat, there are all kinds of things going on, and then it starts running around,” he says. “In this situation, the dog doesn’t know what to do with itself. The dog first has to learn that sit means sit, whether it’s in the house, the boat, or at a ball game. Not reinforcing that is a huge handling error.”

The whiner/crier presents a similar set of concerns. “The whining problem usually comes from high-drive dogs that have been involved with a lot of training,” Tackett says. “When we’re training, most of us start throwing bumpers right away. The dog gets used to being involved right from the start. We might be better off making the dog sit for a while and watch other dogs retrieve bumpers. This teaches the dog that there’s not going to be nonstop action all the time. Try to make it more of a relaxed situation.”

Correcting the problem immediately is crucial. “People might let whining and barking go for a couple of seasons, thinking that the dog will get over it,” Tackett says. “That’s not going to happen. If you want things to change, you’re going to have to take your training back to step one. Other than gunshyness, whining is the toughest problem to fix.”

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