3 expert tips for training your retriever to dive


Waterfowl dogs can easily spot and retrieve crippled ducks, but there’s always that one dabbler or diver that hits the water and goes deep to escape. So, if you hope to bring home every duck you hit, it’s crucial to train your dog early to also dive when necessary. Fortunately, it only takes a few simple training drills to get your pooch to take the plunge.

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Normally, dogs don’t like to stick their heads underwater, even if they love to swim. To get your pup accustomed to this, toss some pieces of wiener into a kids’ swimming pool or shallow pond while the dog looks on, then command it to fetch. Provide plenty of encouragement, and eventually the pup will realize it’s not so bad to stick its head in the water, especially with the tasty reward. Continue this drill over a couple of days to build the dog’s confidence.

The first step is teaching your dog to get its head wet



Once the dog is comfortable with its head submerged, it’s time for serious underwater training. Start by holding a plastic bumper just under the surface and command the dog to fetch it. Keep repeating the drill, gradually moving the bumper deeper until the dog has to plunge completely under to grab it. Don’t push too fast—success may come in one session or take several days, depending on the dog.


To get your dog to dive deep for a retrieve, open the bumper’s air valve to let in some water. The bumper will now sink, encouraging your retriever to swim down after it. Another option is to use a Dokken Diver, a training dummy that simulates the realism of a wounded duck as it dives and resurfaces—and teaches your dog to keep its eyes on the prize.