Step-by-Step Retriever Training

Purina and Wildrose Kennels team up for a 16-segment short video series encompassing the cycle of retriever training

This article is brought to you by Purina Pro Plan as part of the Sporting Dog Spring Training Program.

By Mallori Murphey

For a waterfowl hunter, there aren't many things better in life than watching your four-legged best friend barrel through crushed ice and weave around decoys to snatch up a downed bird. However, before those moments of pure bliss, you begin this process with a puppy, and that pup has a mind of its own. That’s why Purina and Wildrose Kennels have teamed up to show you The Wildrose Way – balanced and positive ways of starting your future retriever with learned behaviors that will take your puppy into adulthood and endure a lifetime. This video series offers insights to various stages of a retriever's life and points out key fundamentals in training and nutrition. 

1. Introduction: Starting Your Pup, The Wildrose Way

2. Grooming

Personal care of your puppy is critical, yet very simple. It starts with nutrition and a few good grooming tools. Here’s how to have your puppy healthy and looking good when it is ready to head out to the field.

3. Socialization

Socialization is about people, places, and things. It is also one of the most crucial aspects of raising a well-rounded puppy. Have your future retriever confident in every situation it will encounter with these tips.

4. Introduction to Water

One place in particular that your puppy will encounter is the water. Water should not be a fear factor to the puppy. When you properly introduce the pup to water; it can be a fun experience for both of you. 

5. Sit and Stay

Essential behaviors are behaviors that you put into a pup that will endure a lifetime. Two of which are sit and stay. With repetition, the puppy will learn the difference over time and will begin to differentiate the two. Learn more about the beginning steps of teaching your puppy to sit and stay.

6. Confidence Building

Being well socialized is the key to building confidence in your puppy – momentous to their overall development. A confident retriever knows that it can master any situation in your community and your home. 

7. Joint Support

One thing that stands true: puppy’s grow-up way too fast and their skeletal structure grows rapidly, as well. The first 16 weeks is the most important time in your puppy’s life. In addition to proper nutrition, a pet owner has the responsibility to maintain proper body condition. This also includes a variety of low-impact exercises that should be practiced safely and often. 

8. Crate Training

Most everyone enjoys their personal space. The same can be said for dogs, too. It is a place where the puppy can relax and feel secure in its own confined area. From being in the home and taking some time off from the family to providing exceptional protection out on the road, a crate is an essential tool for the puppy. 

9. Introduction to Vehicles

People love having their retriever on the road with them. But first, you have to acclimate the puppy to the vehicle. This step is all about progression. Now that the puppy is comfortable in the crate, the pup is ready to begin the transition to becoming a destination dog. Here is the best way to introduce the puppy to your vehicle.

10. Introduction to Other Dogs

Everyone is excited when it is finally time to bring that puppy to its forever home. But are the other dogs ready? There are certain steps to consider before bringing the new edition into the home. Follow these steps to make sure that the introduction process is a positive one.

11. Nutrition

You are what you eat. The same goes for our four-legged hunting partners. The key to raising a healthy puppy is proper nutrition. Pro Plan has created a special blend of key nutrients to create the perfect fuel for your large breed puppy. Follow these tips so that you can have your future sporting dog fueled for the future.

12. Housebreaking

The rules to housebreaking your puppy: routine, control, and avoiding mistakes and some see this step as a challenge. But, it is actually quite simple. Here is the best way to housebreak your puppy in a positive way.

13. Eye Contact

The eyes are the gateway to your puppy’s mind. If you can own their eyes, then you can train and communicate properly. Begin to hold the puppy’s attention early in the training process. You must practice this frequently and always reward the best behaviors with a treat.

14. Pack Mentality

Dogs have a “pack mentality” and we humans have one as well. But, sometimes the puppy might have a dominant personality and try to be the leader of the pack. Here are some ways that you can positively train your puppy while still having the pack mentality.

15. Place Training

The puppy knowing its “place” is considered an essential behavior. It is something that you should get right with the pup early in its training process. Each puppy should learn where its place is in the home. After it knows where its place is at, it will always know its place when traveling and will always feel comfortable.

16. Tie-out and Lead Work

Everyone wants an obedient furry companion when venturing out into town or the field. One that will not be dragging you about when you all are trying to enjoy certain moments. Practicing tie-out and lead work can seem like a daunting task. But, follow these tips to keep this training step fun and always interesting.