Training the Water Dog becomes the foundation for your relationship together. Water Dogs want to work and participate in life with their people. That means you must develop tools for communication and skills for learning. This is hard work and it is immensely meaningful to the life you will share with your dog whatever your favorite activities or lifestyle. Dogs learn in a multitude of ways; but in my experience over the past 12 years, my support and endorsement of positive based reinforcement learning methods has become unequivocal. Dogs who earn rewards for exhibiting a certain behavior and simply no reinforcement for not exhibiting that desired behavior are more confident and quicker learners. Whereas a dog who receives negative consequences to not providing the desired behavior (or to providing an undesired behavior) simply learns that sometimes people are not trust worthy or are sometimes harmful. This dog becomes less willing to try new behaviors and can become inhibited in his or her learning. If a dog can be without fear of negative consequences, they are free to try many possibilities and develop excellent thinking and problem solving abilities in the process. There is a tremendous amount of new information in this field. Please read the experts and learn how to begin your own training routines. Again, I reference Whole Dog Journal and their monthly training guidelines often written by
Pat Miller, CPDT (Peaceable Paws Dog and Puppy Training in Hagerstown, MD). Pat has two books that are included in my Resources page. Learn about clicker training. The clicker is a wonderful tool in the positive reinforcement tool kit. My dogs have learned so much with that clicker as it allows me to signal at just the right moment what behavior I was asking for. Once you learn to work with a clicker, then learn what really motivates your dog. Is it food (cheese, meat, peanut butter etc) or is it a toy or a ball? Each dog will be different. Experiment with your dog and see where the excitement generates.