Call this entry a dog blog


Saturday, August 16 2008

            Jarrett Manek of the DNR’s Division of State Parks and Reservoirs switched things up today at the Fishin’ Pond with a Dog Retrieval Demonstration. A pretty impressive crowd of people surrounded the pond to watch Jarrett toss out dummies for one of the three dogs he brought with him to retrieve.

Before seeing the program, I assumed these dogs would be German Shepherds or some other kind of authoritative dog. But the first dog Jarrett showed off was a basic Labrador retriever named Sage. Jarrett began by making sure Sage could focus on the object at hand, which started out as a tennis ball and then moved up to some duck dummies.

As Sage enthusiastically chased and brought back the target, Jarrett explained some key points of retrieval training. First, always praise the dog when it vaguely does what it’s supposed to do – this makes the dog feel like it’s doing something super special and pretty much guarantees the dog will figure the trick out after just a few goes. Next, get the dog excited about what it’s about to do, and get it focused on the target. Also, if your dog sort of likes water, but isn’t necessarily bred for retrieval, take baby steps to get it there. Finally, Jarrett recommends using voice commands and treats but also sharp whistles because the dog may or may not be able to hear you when it’s splashing around in the water.

            Jarrett then brought out Blue River Chelsea, an American Water Spaniel, which is an ideal breed for retrieval because of its size – it’s not likely that a 35- to 45-pound dog will tip your boat in the process.

Finally, Jarrett introduced the family dog, Boo, an Australian shepherd. That’s not a retriever breed, but because of great training Boo still got the job done.

            If you’d like to try your hand at duck hunting and dog retrieval, I would first recommend getting your hunting license, which you can purchase at Mother Nature’s Mercantile in the NRB when you stop by Sunday for the last day of the fair!

— Katy


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