Wanckets Retrievers, Inc - Obedience & Gun Dog Training
Our primary training grounds are all located within 15 minutes of our kennel in the area of Atkinson, Illinois. Atkinson has some of the best reclaimed strip mine areas for training. We have access to 15 different ponds in the area so that the dogs we train never get the same look. We also have over 1000 acres of Government Funded Grounds (CRP) that we use for upland and landmarks.
While we adapt our training to the needs of the individual dogs brought to us, our program has certain essential features. We consider sound fundamentals essential to reliable performance, and we believe that the best possible outcome depends upon building the dog's confidence in his or her work. The essence of building confidence is to train each dog at his or her own pace. This means that we do not attempt to build upon a command or concept until the dog understands it and can do it without mistake. This way whenever the command is used in later training, it is a source of confidence - something the dog knows he or she can do well - instead of a source of uncertainty. We can maintain standards for material the dog has already learned, without adding pressure or corrections which complicate the intended lesson.
We start by trying to get the dog to retrieve birds without any pressure or requirements for performance. We teach basic obedience commands, and in the process, win the dog's confidence and teach the beginnings of self-discipline. We also try to get the dog in the best physical and mental condition possible. We force-fetch all dogs, which is the process of teaching them step by step the proper way to recover, carry, and deliver a dummy or bird. Then we introduce problems of retrieving that every retriever must master: retrieving from cover and from water, through different kinds of decoys, out of boats, with gunfire and calls, finding and recovering different game birds, and so on. We practice, building up the distance and the level of challenge at a rate which ensures near-100% success, to convince the dog that wherever a bird goes down, he or she can find and recover it.
While we do use force in the force-fetch and forcing on back procedures, we try to use the minimum physical force necessary to achieve reliable performance. We feel that this leads to a better working dog. As soon as possible in each dog's program, we begin to structure training sessions so that completion of the retrieve-the dogs reward-is contingent on the dog's self-control and proper behavior. This fosters a cooperative attitude, so that the dog works with us rather than obeying out of fear of correction. Dogs trained this way tend to cooperate with their owners when they go home, needing little or no correction, although we do recommend that the owner work the dog so he or she won't forget what we've taught.
Another strategy we use to get dogs to work reliably for their owners is for both of us to work each dog, after one has established the fundamentals. This helps the dog learn that there is a "right way" to retrieve, independent of who is handling him or her, and makes dogs more reliable in general.