No, I’m not talking about the creepy crawlies. I wrote this post to help you understand a hunting retriever’s natural drives and personalities in order to develop successful training strategies.
For the intent and purpose of retriever training, we need a dog with a high level of prey drive and one that is not spooky. Does it have the instinctual desire to capture and kill prey? This is the drive that causes the dog to retrieve. A good retriever is always going forward in its life – never backwards. A spooky dog, the kind that backs away or runs from new situations, is likely to have problems with some or all aspects of training, water, guns, and even birds. If your prospect has prey drive and is not spooky, you’re well on your way to success. Everything else the dog does or doesn’t do becomes a training issue.
Dogs have individual personalities just like humans and to some extent are driven by their emotions. Those emotions are the things people recognize in their dog and have empathy for. It’s why we like them – we can relate to some of their feelings. They love, hate, fear and have jealousy. Their individual personalities can be kind and benevolent, or more cunning and willful. Some are less attentive than others. Some of them require leadership; some don’t care much for it. By taking all this into consideration, it will be a lot easier for you to understand your dog and make the appropriate augmentations to your training techniques that fit its personality.
Deep Fork Retrievers