When Jackson came into our home he was essentially a blank slate. He was a much loved and well bred blank slate, and he had been taught to sit and wait for his food, but other than that his mind was ours to mold.
At nine and a half months I am very proud of our work with our pup. We are novices who have a strong love of dogs and have gathered knowledge and experience from books, videos and a lifetime of dog ownership.
We have completed puppy class, beginning obedience, and intermediate obedience at a great privately owned dog training center near us. Jackson has finished the doggie equivalent of middle school. We still have advanced obedience, which I compare to high school, and retriever training, which is essentially his Bachelor degree. He may minor in dock diving and I would like to get the Canine Good Citizen, which I compare to Summa Cum Laude.
I am so proud of the things we have taught him:
- Shake hands
- Touch (jump up and touch our outstretched hand)
- Easy (don’t bite our fingers when we give a treat)
- Sit/stay to wait for food
- Sit/stay and down/stay with motion going on around him and with a tennis ball bouncing
- Name means look at me
- Off (leave it)
- Reliable recall (secret word to which he runs immediately to us)
We are still working on several things but have not quite perfected them:
- Walking on a loose leash at a decent heel without pulling
- Sit/stay at the door
- Go lay down (to his bed)
During our graduation from intermediate obedience school there is a contest that consists of four stations:
3. Sit/stay and sing “How much is that doggie in the window, woof woof”
It is timed and we could not use words, only hand signals. Jackson and I blew the competition away at a time of thirty eight seconds. Our prize was a keychain from the training school but I felt like we had just won Westminster as we walked up to claim our prize. I look at that keychain on my ring each day and feel a surge of pride at the bond that exists with our Jackson.
To teach Jackson is simply amazing. I do not think there is anything we cannot teach this dog as long as we continue to learn how to shape his mind and keep him motivated. His energy could power the house if we could harness it but once we have his attention he learns quickly. Just like any of us there are days when he just does not want to learn anything.
We still have a huge task of retriever training. We have started and he is understanding the basics. My husband has the goal of bird hunting, and I would like to become involved in hunt tests. It is in his breeding, in his blood, and as much as I know he is happy here with us I know it will make him an even happier and more complete lab when he can let his birdy genetic background go to work.