Dave and Oscar

(Dave wrote…)


Today was the 6th day of training, here is the video…

This is about par for the course, his sitting is coming along nicely and I never have a problem getting him to chase something.  When we start our fun walk after the session I always take a squeaky toy with me to give him a few retrieves on our trek.  Trying to get as many excitement opportunities as I can without him getting bored.  Trying to keep that balance and do more excitement than OB, especially since his “sit” is doing so well.

I also take a look at the way he acts throughout the morning and afternoon for that “super excited” attitude that dogs get every now and again, he’ll start jumping around and running so fast his butts almost on the ground.  I jump on that opportunity to throw him some retrieves, usually 1 or 2, never more.  When I take advantage of these moments he charges the way I love to see him, like a bullet.  My goal is to replicate that every chance that I get.

I have Traffic Cop coming in the mail tomorrow and will be taking a look and asking some questions I’m sure.

Lastly, will be getting him on a live bird this week, probably Thursday.  I’m excited and scared, the last thing I want is for him to get frightened.  Talk to you soon and thank you.



You are right Oscar seems to recognize the “Sit” command and is sitting on que very nicely. Be sure to give the rope a little tug straight up to reinforce that sit. You should reinforce your verbal command and the rope tugs several times each time Oscar sits. Eventually, the rope tug will be replaced when you get to collar conditioning. At about the 2.06 mark in the clip, I noticed Oscar was sitting but then seemed to jump up just a nano second before I think you intended. If that is true, watch out for that because that is not sitting to the standard you want, which is a motionless sit until told to do otherwise. I want to be sure you understand this as it will be critical later. Feel free to ask me any questions in-between posting clips.

I noticed in your introduction to your clip, you use the word “retrieve” a few times, I want to be sure you have the correct mind set, at this point Oscar is chasing something, avoid falling into the trap of classifying it as a retrieve. It does not matter that he does or doesn’t bring an item back, you are working on attitude and introducing the act of chasing after something.

When Oscar does sit or chase something and grab it say “good” once and quickly, within one second. If you over use the “good” it looses its intended value as a reward for doing something right.

You are doing a great job with the excitement keep it up and make sure you put that in at least three times in a four minute clip. You will see why when you start to add the “on-off switch” Hillmann talks about in his DVDs.

So here is your next assignment. I am glad you are getting the Traffic Cop DVD. It is invaluable and do not underestimate the value of a motionless sit in the field or in competition. Once you have a dog that creeps, it is a ton of work to fix it so when you get the DVD study it and be sure you understand what is going on and be able to identify the distractions presented as the dog advances through the process. Don’t worry I’m here to help and answer any questions.  In your next clip I want you to see if you can get in at least 8 examples of sit, not all at once but something like this:

1. Excitement

2. “Sit”, using the rope tugs, and repeat the verbal and tug three or four times for each sit.

3. Walk on the lead

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3

5. Chase something

Go through the outlined process three or four times in each clip.

Oscar will be having a big week if he is to get his first introduction to a live bird. Again, watch the Training a Retriever Puppy DVD and review several times Nick’s introduction to a bird. He may or may not run after the bird, or he may or may not pick it up. Regardless, make it fun for him and keep it short, you want him to think this is fabulous and you want to build that desire, so keep the session short.

Next time I want to talk about introducing “hold” and how you can work with that in the field during your sessions and in the house too.

Keep up the good work, keep practicing and have fun,


Dave and Oscar May 4, 2015

This clip shows Dave and Oscar continuing to work on the three basic elements of: chasing something, walking on a lead, and sitting.

( Dave wrote )   Judy-

Today was day three, my initial reaction to watching the video was that Oscar did well with sitting (w/ a treat); he was also pretty excited about making short retrieves, I was able to get him excited after tossing a few bumpers.  However, I am really struggling with walking on a line; not just with the training session, but also our morning or afternoon walks.  I felt like todays session was cut so short because of the struggle on the lead; which is evident in the video.  I just tried to take a quick walk with him at home and he refused to even budge out of a sitting position; treats will get him to move about 10 feet and then he does it again.  My only recourse is to drop the lead and let him follow me on his own, but that kind of defeats the purpose of walking on a lead.

I am pleased with his ‘sit’, i thought it had made some strides in the past week, and looking at me while in the sit position.

Any ideas/thoughts on how i can get him walking on a line.  I do not want to drag him at all.  Again, i feel good about the rest of it, but feel like this refusing to walk on a line is holding us back a little.  Thank you again.        Dave

Hello Dave and Oscar,

You started off your session right with the excitement which is how each and every session should begin, even when we get to more advanced concepts. The excitement phase gets the dog in an elevated state of excitement but you are molding him so that you will be able to operate him when he is extremely excited, which is the case in most hunting and competition situations.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this dog is so excited that you don’t need to make him more excited. The important issue is to be able to operate the dog when he is excited and have him pay attention to you in spite of what may be going around him. Be sure to mix in more excitement intervals in your training session. For example, a session might look like this:

30 seconds of excitement, with very short bumper tosses one or two times, no more than 10′ tosses.

Then go into waking on the lead followed by a sit. Then get right back into excitement with a bumper toss, and keep repeating the process. Always keeping the puppy in balance, when you notice his attention is waining get right back into excitement. Always stop the session leaving the puppy wanting more, not when he is tired and used up.

Oscar is sitting really well. Though it is hard to determine from the clip keep in mind that the sit using the rope is a quick little jerk up, and then release the tension on the rope, that is to say do not keep tension on the rope once he is doing what you want. Some times it may be necessary to push his little backside down into the sit position, not to worry if you have to do this while he is a baby puppy.

You were concerned about his reluctance to follow or walk with you on the lead. Again not to worry, it will come. Oscar seemed somewhat distracted by the camera team and the bumper you tossed in the grass. I’d say he has a good memory, and wanted to make that retrieve.

Your assignment:

Follow the routine outlined above with more excitement segments and since Oscar is sitting well, do less sitting and more walking on the lead. Keeping him in balance with the things he is doing well versus what he needs to work on, (sitting versus walking on the lead).

Good luck and keep me posted,


Dave and Oscar Lesson One

Introduction: Dave and Oscar are from Maryland and are beginning their adventure using Bill Hillmann’s theory and method of retriever training. Using the electric collar for positive reinforcement on a command the dog already knows.

This is their first lesson and Dave will post more which I will comment on and give them suggestions and assignments for future lessons.  So follow along with us.

Good Luck Dave and lets get going….


Well first off nice job. Looks like you’ve got the right equipment, your rope and bumper. Just as a reference, at this point we are working towards three things, chase something through excitement, walk on a lead, and the sit command. 

So here are a few things to consider: 

1.  See if you can keep Oscar crated for a couple of hours before you have a session.  By doing so you are assured that he will be at his peak and be raring to go. This also in a subtle way tells him that YOU are the life of the party and will help to build his desire. Also don’t feed him before you train. I would like you to be thinking about how you can get more eye contact with Oscar, I don’t expect you to have that right now but be thinking how you can get it.  One of the things I use to keep a puppy engaged and looking at me is to have some hot dog pieces, real small pieces, just out of reach when he is walking beside me, and every once in a while when he is looking at me I give him a piece. The timing of the delivery is important, once he does what you want the treat needs to be delivered within in a second to be effective so be ready, say good and then give the treat quickly. 

Now two things to remember, we do not expect Oscar to be making retrieves we just want him to chase what ever you are throwing and to increase enthusiasm you can sometimes throw a squeaky toy or tennis ball, it does’t always have to be a bumper at this point, so mix it up and keep it fun. Second, we also do not expect Oscar to walk at heel, just that he will come along with you is great. Oscar did both of those things nicely so keep it up.

Oscar looks like many male puppies that I’ve seen, they seem some what slow or even lazy but that is just because it takes a lot of food and rest to keep all that puppiness going, so if Oscar is one of those type don’t be discouraged. I have heard from many people and seen it myself these boys that seem to sleep and eat for the first five or six months and then all of a sudden you open the crate and out comes a little fire breathing dragon.

Making things fun and being consistent is paramount is successful training. Keep practicing and keep in touch.