LOVE AND DISAPPOINTMENT
No dog works spectacularly all the time. To all dogs there eventually comes an off day. When this happens in the ring, it is not uncommon to see an owner showing disappointment in the ring. The owner's rejection of the dog can reach a point where it seems that they are a pair of strangers that somehow ended up in the ring together by accident. The owner is punishing the dog for working poorly by rejecting him.
The problem here is that the more the dog is rejected, the worse he is going to work, both for the rest of the day and in the future. A dog that is having problems needs help, not rejection. He needs additional cues. He needs intensified praise and encouragement at the very time when it is the hardest to give. At this point we find out if the owner is worthy of the dog. It is easy to love a dog that is performing well. But the goal is to make love unconditional, to be able to say, "I love the dog," independently from, "The dog is working poorly [or well] today." The two statements have nothing to do with each other, and once the owner truly believes this or she will never be disappointed again in a ring performance, the resulting sense of optimism and freedom it gives is amazing. If you love the dog before you take him into the ring, you can love him just as much when you leave the ring.
CKC Field Trials
Something to Remember
Retriever Training and Dog games are a Team Sport. You are the coach of the team. But, make no mistake, this is a team effort. If both members of the team are not working together toward the same goal you will fail. As the coach of the team you must lead the team. It is your job to establish the lines of communication between the canine athlete and the human trainer. You set the mood for training and testing. If the mood is one of intimidation neither you nor your dog will consistently perform to the highest potential. Be fair, be consistent and remember this a not a human versus canine game. Work together and you will achieve your goals. Great retrievers don't just happen; they are built using a blend of the retriever's natural attributes: intelligence, drive and trainability; and consistent training.