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Retriever Training: Early Imprinting at Home

Bill Gibson | Kennel Master at GameKeeper Kennels

labrador retriever puppy training

Not long after picking out your puppy, you'll need to begin training. Teaching your puppy to sit, stay and retrieve can and should be started at eight weeks of age. You can accomplish this task using a puppy dummy or a rolled up sock and a hallway in your house. 

Begin by closing all the doors so that you can control the pup’s movements by limiting his direction of travel to away from you and back to you. Get the pup interested in the dummy. Throw the dummy a short distance down the hallway, and let him run to it, pick it up and return to you.

After the pup is focused on picking up the sock or dummy, incrementally increase the distance of the throw. Also start restraining the pup with your other hand, and then call his name as you release him. It may take a few tries, but the pup should quickly understand and oblige this retrieving game.  

At this age, encouragement, not punishment, is the name of the game. So when the pup picks the dummy up clap your hands while repeating “here” until he comes to you with the dummy. On his return, don’t immediately grab the dummy from the pup. Instead, as the retrieving game progresses, let him hold the dummy for longer and longer periods of time.  

Don’t overdo the retrieves; one or two a day is enough.

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