Activities For Curly Coated Retrievers

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Introduction

Curly Coated Retrievers were developed in the 1700s, and although we do not have any definitive records of the types of dogs that were used to develop this distinctive and talented breed, most experts believe that they are a mix of retrieving setters and a breed of dog that is now extinct, the Old English Water Spaniel. They have particularly long legs and can be distinguished from other retrieving breeds by their tightly curled black or liver colored coats. While they are generally friendly they are somewhat more cautious than other retrieving breeds, so socialization should be a priority. 

Dock Diving

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Diving dock
Target
Activity description

The sport of Dock jumping was first exhibited just over a decade ago during the 1997 Incredible Dog Challenge. Since that date, the popularity of this canine activity has grown extensively, with several Dock Dog groups forming throughout the United States with many competitions available for participants. During this competitive activity, dogs run to the end of a thirty-five to forty foot dock, jumping off the end of it in order to pursue the target, with the goal of securing either the longest or highest jump in the competition. The water-loving Curly Coated Retriever has the longest legs of any of the retriever breeds, making them an excellent candidate for this position. 

Step
1
Learn to swim
Most Curly Coated Retrievers will jump into the water without needing much in the way of encouragement, but they do need to be comfortable enough in water not to panic when they land in the water. Taking your dog swimming a few times will ensure that they are not only comfortable with the feel of the water but confident in their ability to swim as well.
Step
2
Jumping in
There are two methods for encouraging your dog to make the longest or highest jump; place and send and chase. In the Place and Send method there is either a specific target for the dog to reach for that is suspended over the pool or the handler throws the toy or target in the pool first, then walks the dog back to the end of the dock before releasing them to chase the target. The Chase method involves the dog being placed in a stay at the starting position and the handler going to the end of the dock, releasing the dog from the stay and throwing the target, enticing the dog to follow after it.
Step
3
Compete
There are many dock diving or dock jumping competitions that are held throughout the United States at many different levels. Most smaller or local competitions are free to enter or have only a modest cost or donation to a cause, while the majority of official sanctioned competitions cost around twenty to twenty-five dollars per splash. These competitions generally offer discounts for signing up ahead of time, but they still allow dogs to enter the day of the competition.
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Hunting Games

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Decoys
Boat
Bird Scent
Duck or Pigeon Wings
Activity description
Curly Coated Retrievers have been highly prized for their overall hunting skills, particularly for their soft mouth when retrieving either land or water birds. Their longer legs make them excellent swimmers, so they are often chosen by those who prefer hunting waterfowl. If you are planning to hunt with your canine companion, there are several games that you can play with them that will help them to become experts at retrieving waterfowl from ponds and lakes. These games and activities can be used to both prepare your dog for their job as well as to provide mental stimulation and entertainment for them. These games are enjoyable for canines of any age and can even be utilized with pups before they are old enough for more formal training
Step
1
Duck or decoy
A retriever that will be employed as a duck dog needs to be able to recognize the difference between a dead duck and a decoy and to be taught that the decoy is a tool and should not be picked up or chewed on. In training your pup, you can spread out several decoys that they should be taught to ignore, with one or two targets in the mix. While some hunters still use an actual dead duck as the target, many others find it simpler to anoint a training duck dummy or stuffed duck toy with the actual duck scent.
Step
2
Feather retrieval
One way to increase your young gun dog’s desire to retrieve downed birds is to use stuffed bird wings, either duck or pigeon, as fetch toys. It is important to keep these games of fetch short and uncomplicated, only five to ten minutes up to two or three sessions a day. As your dog masters this skill, you can start requiring them to wait for the command to retrieve before going after the feathers as this will help them to learn impulse control.
Step
3
Boat buddy
Many hunters that specialize in hunting ducks and geese choose Curly Coated Retrievers for their superior water retrieval skills, and if they hunt from a boat rather than the shore, it is important that their canine hunting partner is calm and collected when they are in the boat as well. It is helpful to take your dog out on the water frequently to get them used to the motion of the boat and the sounds of the waves lapping against the sides. Once they have gained confidence when riding in the boat, you throw training dummies out into the water for them to fetch, giving them a chance to get used to the way the boat moves when they jump out.
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Advanced Obedience

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash
Activity description

This breed of dog is very focused on their owners and is often described as “wickedly smart,” but they do require an outlet for that intelligence to keep them from becoming mischievous or even manipulative in their dealings with others. One good way to ensure that they are using their minds, particularly for dogs that are not being used to hunt, is to start obedience classes early on. They tend to remain puppyish for longer than other retrievers, so continuing their education in one way or another is typically recommended, and many pet parents find that their Curly Coated Retrievers excel at advanced obedience training, also known as conformation. 

Step
1
Choose a training method
There are several methods that can be used to train your dog in advanced obedience, including clicker training, mirror or model training, relationship training, and positive reinforcement. Curly Coated Retrievers do not respond well to harsh or punitive methods when training and positive reinforcement techniques are often the most effective with this breed.
Step
2
Semi-basic training
In order to compete in Advanced Obedience trials, there are several commands that your dog will need to master beyond the basics. Along with the usual sit, stay, and recall commands that are generally taught in earlier obedience classes your dog will also need to be able to hold a sit for one minute, hold in a stay position for two minutes, and heel effectively both on and off leash. Mastering these skills will allow a novice competitor to move on to the higher classes of obedience competitions.
Step
3
Choose your competition
There are several options to pick from when choosing a conformation or advanced obedience competition. Many handlers and owners prefer to first showcase their canine’s skills at smaller, local competitions such as those that are put on by breed specific clubs, local pet-related businesses, or even the local training clubs themselves. Larger competitions, which are often televised, are put on by the major kennel clubs such as the AKC and UKC on both the regional and national level.
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More Fun Ideas...

Rally O

Rally Obedience is a fun activity in which a canine is directed to perform between ten to twenty different commands on a course, competing for both accuracy and speed, although accuracy is typically more important than speed.  

Flyball

The dog sport of flyball takes the game of fetch to another level, introducing competition and hurdles to the game. It is performed relay style with teams of four dogs each.  

Swimming

Although the Curly Coated Retriever was developed as an all-around bird dog, they are particularly effective at water retrievals, in part due to both a talent and desire to swim.

Conclusion

Curly Coated Retrievers require a great deal of both physical activity, and mental stimulation or they can develop problem behaviors like mischievousness, barking, and chewing. They are particularly well-suited to activities related to retrieval and to activities that involve water, but can also excel at other activities, such as advanced and rally obedience activities.