I’ll explain why I think retrieving is important for all breeds of dog in a moment.
But obviously for most gundogs, it is far more than important.
Retrieving is a vital skill
If you are eager to make a start on retrieving skip straight to this article: The Retrieving Process Explained
If you want to delve deeper into the philosophy of retrieving, read on!
The purpose of retrieving
Apart from setters and pointers, in the UK, all gundog breeds are expected to retrieve.[wp_ad_camp_1]That is to say, retrieving is part of their raison d’etre.
People disagree as to the standard to which non retriever breeds should retrieve, and some believe these standards need to be raised. Especially with HPRs.
And work is in progress to make this happen.
Ethical food production
The game shooting industry is founded on the historical appreciation of game as a food source. Somewhere along the way, game shooting has become more of a sport than a means of harvesting food.
Yet we should never forget the importance of the underlying purpose of our sport which let’s face it, is barely tolerated by many in this country.
Retrievers work alongside hunters/shooters for a very good reason. To put food on the table. Their role in the shooting field is crucial, both in ensuring that game is collected and put into the food chain, and in reducing the suffering of wounded animal and birds.
I would urge anyone thinking about taking up shooting, to make sure they have the time and money to raise and train a retrieving gundog. Without one, you simply cannot ensure the ethical pursuit of game.
Horses for courses?
Some people think that certain gundogs need not, or even should not, be taught to retrieve. I disagree. You can read why in this article. I would go further than suggesting retrieving is important for all gundogs. I actually think it is important for all dogs, whatever their breed or purpose.
Retrieving for exercise
Retrieving is a brilliant way to exercise a dog without losing that all important contact between the two of you.
Put simply, unless you run several miles a day with your dogs at heel, retrieving is the very best way to exercise a dog whilst retaining complete control over it.
Teaching the retrieve
Teaching your dog to retrieve is not always straightforward. It really helps to understand the retrieving process, which is quite complex.
Many dogs have a natural instinct for at least one part of the retrieving process – for example – chasing a ball or toy. Most gundogs breeds will also pick the toy up. At least to begin with. Getting the dog to bring the ball back, or to let go of it, and persuading the dog not to devour the ball or run off with it, are all common problems.
Maintaining the dog’s interest in retrieving for the long term is also a common source of difficulty.
All these problems can be either avoided or corrected, provided you have done your homework.
That’s why it is important to understand the whole retrieving process inside out before you even begin to throw a ball or dummy for your dog.
Share your thoughts
I hope you enjoy the retrieving articles on this website. Let me know if there is any other aspect of this interesting topic that you would like to see covered here. Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
If you enjoy my articles, you might like my new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.