A common bad habit among retrievers is “creeping,” where the dog inches its way toward you during the hunt in anticipation of a retrieve. While there are actions that hunters can take to correct creeping behavior, taking preventative measures can save a lot of time and trouble.
Listed here are three ways to prevent a creeper.
Beware of How you Practice Recall
A hunting dog should have a rock solid recall, but how you practice this skill has important implications. Avoid continually calling your dog to you when you are in the field, as it will reinforce for your pet that it should be near you at all times. Additionally, never call your dog to you from a sitting position. This bad habit signals to your retriever that it is okay to break the sit command, which will lead to creeping. Instead, always break the command by saying “free” (or another term that your dog understands) before practicing your dog’s recall.
Train the “Place” Command
Next, teach your dog the “place” command, which is like “stay,” but cued with an object (such as a dog bed or raised platform). When you tell your dog “place,” he or she should go directly to the object and stay there until directed
otherwise. To teach “place,” first choose a defined “place” and lead your dog there. Point to the area and say “place” while luring your dog onto the object with a treat. As soon as your dog sits (using a hand lure if necessary), mark the behavior and reward the dog. Practice this command until your dog fully understands the meaning of “place.”
Do Not Call off Place
Next, it is important that your dog understands not to leave “place” unless properly released from the command. Therefore, never call your dog out of the place command; otherwise it will be more likely to creep towards you in the field. Instead, walk to your dog, release it from “place”, and then ask it to heel before leading the dog away from the area. When practicing “place” never reward your pet for stepping off of the object. All reward and praise should occur when your pet is still.
Ultimately, creeping in the field is due to both excitement for the retrieve, and previous reinforcement for certain behaviors. Therefore, it is important to be conscientious of everything you ask your dog to do during training. Just as you wouldn’t play tug of war with your dog using a dummy, you should not allow your pet to break commands like “sit” or “place” by calling it toward you.
Author Bio: Joe is the founder of HuntEmUp.com, The Worldwide Sporting Dog Superstore and Owner of Bull Valley Retrievers, Northern Illinois Retriever Training, specializing in all-breed obedience and Retriever Field and Gun Dog work. Joe brings to the table years of training and hunting experience as well as knowledge of the latest hunting and training products on the market, to help you make your hunt and dog the best he can be.
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