Why I Love Training My Dogs

I just came back from a field training session with two of my Labradors. Both are fairly novice dogs in this discipline. I went out with a friend and her dogs. We take turns throwing and using the duck call for each other. Orchid and Jubilee turned in stellar performances. I love seeing them do what they were bred to do.

One of the reasons I like to train is to spend time outside. I am not a person that is game to take a walk. But, I will walk all over a field repeatedly to get to a good spot to throw a bumper! My throwing arm is, to say the least, lousy. But, I do occasionally get a few good throws accomplished.

Another reason I like to do field work is because it is generally a social training session. While basics are taught at home in the yard, at some point, the dog needs to learn to retrieve something at a distance and that takes another arm to throw about 100 yards away. So, it is a good excuse to get out with like minded friends.

The best thing about it is spending time with my dogs. I am a science based trainer, focusing on positive reinforcement. My dogs love to train. It is a happy time for them. If they make a mistake, the same thing happens to them that happens to me on the training field……we do it again.

A good example of my mistake was a bad throw. What can I say? I am impaired. So, I throw the bumper up and over my head behind me into very thick wood and underbrush. I repeat my throw with another bumper for the dog waiting with my friend. Good retrieve. I tag the tree line where I am standing so that I can find it later. Eventually, I go back to that spot with Jubilee, who has no idea what a dumb thing I did. I pointed her into the brush and said “fetch”. She sort of looked at me and went in. She plowed her way through and started looking for something to bring back to me. She eventually came out with it! I was so proud of her.

Why did Jubilee go in looking? Well, to start with, she has basic training. She knows what fetch means. What she didn’t know in this case was where or what she was fetching. I am so happy my dog trusted me that there really was something there. I am also happy she had no fear of making a mistake. Dogs that are trained with aversives can become afraid of the consequences of failure. If she had not found the bumper, nothing would have happened to her. Of course, if she had not found the bumper, I would have had to pay for my mistake, and buy a new bumper.