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Thread: Home vs Field

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jul 2013

    Default Home vs Field

    I was told by a veteran trainer that labs know context. That labs are smart enough to distinguish between play time at the house and work in the field, as long as no one but me gives the dog commands. My concern is that some of my family members play keep away with a football with the dog, they tell him to sit, they give him multiple commands to release the ball, they tug of war with him, among other commands. I can not work him everyday nor can I hunt with him every weekend. Will he be ok for next fall if I keep at least some kind of a regular training routine?

    Another issue I am noticing, he tends to favor the other members in the house and listens to me less when they are around. Is this a reflection of the dog knowing who lets him get away with things and who is the strict parent?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member motor-vater's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    So Cal


    I once had a trainer tell me "you cant take a dogs titles away" meaning let me train and run your dog as far as it will go, then feel free to eff it up as much as you wish! Hope that helps
    GMPR HR Snickelfritz of Bear Point SH "Fritz"

  4. #3
    Senior Member Newf's Avatar
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    Jul 2010


    They are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They definitely know the difference between work and play. They also know how much they can get away with, and who lets them away with what. For example my wife often doesn't reinforce her commands with our dog, and she ends up having to nag or repeat commands ...for example to get Cooper off the bed goes like "OFF!...come on get off the bed! Off the bed now!" in a more stern voice - which sometimes works for her, Whereas if I go into the room... I can say "off" and he's on the floor no questions asked. Heck I can snap my fingers and point and that's enough to get my point across.

    Something else to consider....how many field dogs do double duty as a playmate for the kids and a hunting dog in the fall?? More than you and I care to count I'm sure. Do you think that when buster is playing in the yard he gets proper commands? And they are reinforced? Not likely!

    IMO keep YOUR standards up and YOUR commands consistent and your dog will listen to YOU. But it would sure help eliminate headaches if your family members were all on the same page with your commands and goals for your dog.
    Last edited by Newf; 01-11-2014 at 11:41 PM.

  5. #4
    Senior Member windycanyon's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    WA State


    How old is the dog? If he's still immature, that sounds typical. Dogs are going to take the path of least resistance...
    It's hard to watch other people give even a trained/mature dog worthless commands and expect more.

  6. #5
    Senior Member 1tulip's Avatar
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    Oct 2009


    Chef raises a point that has worried me some. It's hard on the dog to have one standard at home and another in the field. And spouses (and/or kids) just don't do it like we do. I can visualize exactly what he's talking about. We teach our dogs specific commands. Sit, here, down or place... we put them where we want them to be. But the spouse gets frustrated and yells... "Get out of my way!" which does the dog little good. No one has taught her what "Get out of the way" means! I try to tell hubby that if the dogs are underfoot, take them to their dog-bed and tell them "Here! Down!"

    Oh well

  7. #6
    Senior Member Don Lietzau's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Chugiak, Alaska


    I am with agreement that your commands are yours for the dog and others in the family need to get on board.
    Some fun play with others and yourself is fine. Dogs can tell the difference between work and play. My concern is you may not have the time to keep up with your dog as the family intervenes.
    Right now I am working with my wife and "her dog" to get them working together like I know he was taught. Him and I are a good team, now trying to get my wife more involved more as she is the one that will run him in his UPT and HZP this summer. He knows the commands but gets confused because the wife just does not do it like me. We will get it but it's hard right now. Good Luck

  8. #7
    Senior Member Pam Spears's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Western Colorado


    My family knows to use the same words that I do (boy that took some work in the beginning) such as sit, down, off, and wait. They don't need to know fetch or heel, and I tell them not to use stay. The dogs know I have a higher standard than the others, but at least they aren't confused by being told "down" when one of the grandkids really means "off." They also know that "heel" at an obedience test means something quite different than "heel" at a hunt test. I spent a lot of time worrying about conflicting commands between retriever venues and the obedience ring: a well-respected trainer whose dogs have multiple OTCHs and AFCs says she uses the same commands in both venues and the dogs know the difference (Bridget Carlsen.)

    As for next fall, you'll need to find time to train on obedience and retriever skills on some kind of schedule or he's going to get pretty sloppy, but you can incorporate a lot into a normal day. Use your heel and sit commands throughout the day/evening. You can do bumper drills in the yard a couple of times a week, hold and fetch/no fetch, and even do small wagon wheel drills. Get him out as often as you can for marks and blinds, anything is better than nothing. Ask him to retrieve the paper.

    As for ignoring you when the family is around: it sounds like he needs to learn to perform for you with distractions (the family is a pretty big distraction.) Don't give him commands that you aren't prepared to enforce, but when you do and he ignores you, you're going to have to insist he do it. A couple of weeks doing heel, sit, down, and stay in full training mode in the house or yard with the kids around and his obedience ought to improve.
    HRCH Roughwater Stacked & Packed, "Babe," MH, CD, RN, CGC, WDQ

  9. #8
    Senior Member Cass's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    ON, Canada


    I think thats just life. Unless your better half and kids are aspiring trainers you're going to deal with this. Drives me nuts too because I know when I'm not home the land is lawless but dogs are smart and know the difference. He listens to me and thats all that matters. You can't control everything - this rule applies to all things in life.

  10. #9
    Senior Member davewolfe's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    mid missouri


    I think my dogs learn who they have to lesson to and who don't have to. My dogs won't jump on me, but all bets are off when it comes to my wife. It comes down to her timing is to slow to get a correction in.

    I don't let anyone play tug of war with any of my dogs, just one of my thing. I don't know if this could teach a bad habit, but don't want to find out.

    I think if a dog has been force fetch, the person throwing something to retriever needs to know when to stop before the dog can over heat.

    My 2 cents
    David Wolfe

  11. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013


    Dogs need structure. Dogs also need leadership as part of that structure and if you and family members choose not to provide leadership for the dog, the dog will provide it for you on his terms (NOT GOOD). A key element to to training specific and desired behaviors is consistency. As an example, SIT does not mean the dog sits every now and then when you have repeated the command several times without compliance and then the dog finally does it. A command of SIT taught properly, reinforced appropriately, and demanded consistently will result in the immediate and consistent compliance to that command.

    "TUG OF WAR"??? Why train in and perhaps entrench behavior that you will find highly undesireable down the road? Such behavior may need to be "trained out" later, or may not be possible at all if highly established within the dog. It is far better to prevent problems and not need to correct them later when to do so will only lead to frustration and confusion for yourself and the dog later.

    TRAIN THE TRAINER(S)! In other words, have a meeting and perhaps several sessions together (all having contact with and being in a position of giving care and commands to your dog) making sure you are ALL on the same page across the board. Use consistent commands, demand consistent compliance to taught and known commands, use similar reinforcement (reward) for compliance to those commands, and eliminate dysfunctional behaviors that will only cause you and the dog problems and frustration as time goes on and those behaviors become more fully entreched.

    Identify what it is you expect and want from your dog. Create a "training log book or journal", I use a daily planner finding that is a great format for the intended purpose. Write down the objectives and goals you want to achieve with your pup / dog and consider what it will take in terms of training strategy and methods used to reach those goals. Once you have a concrete objective and a plan on how you can achieve it, it WILL make those objectives much easier to achieve. The daily planner format lets you track what you have gained with the passage of time, allows you to keep track of time actually spent or not spent in training your dog, allows you to "revisit" and reinforce behaviors previously taught and to further reinforce and entrench to behaviors within the dog, and it allows you to set clear objectives to work toward within the context of future time. It is important to realize that all dogs learn at their own rate based on their own inherent ability. Incrementally move forward with your objectives, but continually revisit those desired behaviors taught foundationally to keep those sharp, consistent, and well maintained.

    I hope this helps.


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