By Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels - Home of Drake the DU Dog
The development of the polished retriever is largely a factor of time invested in a dog of average or above-average aptitude. Polish arises from an attention to detail. Details promote quality, and quality exceeds expectations. Polish is more than style. It is a dog's functional behaviors, skills and responses that contribute to a satisfactory day in the field.
Polish includes many dimensions, such as smooth delivery to hand, crisp handle, responsiveness, steadiness to shot and fall, tracking cripples, etc. Polished retrievers possess certain basic qualities with regard to obedience:
- They respond reliably to commands, signals and cues.
- They accomplish commands quickly in a crisp, stylish manner.
- They project a quiet, patient, well disciplined demeanor, always under control.
- They incorporate refined obedience skills into everyday field situations.
Polished retrievers sit quietly for extended periods of inactivity. Frequently drill this for 20-30 minutes in all types of weather and locations. The dog must remain still and quiet. (No noise, disruptive behavior or continuous movement due to boredom.) One can hone this skill while performing tasks around the house, office or farm. Incorporate distraction - kids playing, other dogs, farm animals, etc. Also take advantage of inclement weather - light rain, sleet and snow. That's the way it will be on the shoot!
Polished retrievers sit in an alert, regal manner. A well postured sitting position denotes attentiveness.
Lying down is not a problem for extended periods, but laziness in the blind or at the line indicates sloppy inattention. Correct pups early to avoid the habit of lying down while at sit. Return them to sit promptly by picking up the lead, lifting the pup and re-commanding, "Sit." Also use this technique if the pup drops at your side when you stop. Be consistent and reward proper behavior. Punishment tends to make this matter worse in a pup.
Not sitting squarely on the hips or having a rear leg and/or foot extended is poor form. Reposition the dog repeatedly to the proper sit position. Don't let this become a habit. If the dog continuously extends a foot at sit, remain erect at the dog's side and lightly apply pressure with your foot on his. The dog will retract the foot. As he does, repeat the command, "Sit." Reward all correct responses.