The rhythm utilized within the art of training retrievers is probably one of the hardest skills for a handler to perfect. Not all of us were born with good rhythm. As I have mentioned before, a handler has great influence over a retriever with their body language. It is the unspoken language between a human and retriever. When developing trust and confidence in your retriever having a consistent rhythm will help them advance in their lessons. As puppies learning obedience retrievers are heavily influenced by your rhythm during walking at heel. If the rhythm is interrupted or inconsistent the puppy will become confused. It would be as if you were dancing a beautiful Waltz and all of a sudden your partner sped up or changed a step. An experienced dancer could adjust rapidly, but a new dancer would stumble while trying to figure out what dance step to perform next. In the instance of confusion your young retriever can become apprehensive and begin to mistrust what they believed to be correct in their seeking of approval from the handler. The confusion of the dance or process of walking at heel can be alleviated if the puppy and handler develop a rhythm with one another. The puppy can then begin to understand what the next step to the dance should be. Now the puppy can begin to perform the dance with style, grace, and ease therefore advancing in the lesson of heel.
For a sophisticated retriever rhythm becomes critical when lining up or pointing out the gun stations in the field. The pushing and pulling to steer your retriever in the direction they need to focus is an intricate dance including finite movements and slight distributions of the handlerís weight. If the handlerís movements are too big & inconsistent the retriever will be bouncing back and forth in an gyrated mess of non-focus. This gyrated dance is very disruptive and displays a lack of control from the handler to work as a well-oiled retriever team. A consistent team will be able to push and pull without ever-moving off the mate or moving greater than an inch. If the rhythm between the handler and retriever is smooth it can be a jaw dropping sight to witness as the team works in unison. In order to be proficient find your own rhythm first, practice it, then introduce it to your retriever. Develop consistency between you and your retrieverís rhythm. Good timing and rhythm go hand in hand and will help your retriever team advance looking polished, controlled, and smooth. Wagon-Wheel lining is a wonderful drill to put you and your retriever on the same rhythmic page.