Water Work with Pepper and DeeDee

By Carol Konkol (October 2012)

I got started in water work when I got my first PWD in 1996.  I chose PWDs because I read about the water work and that really appealed to me.  I trained Pepper for JWC, AWD and WWD.  Pepper was an easy dog to train because he wanted to please me above almost everything else.  We never lived on a lake or even did any training on a boat.  I did most of my training at home, occasionally going to a dog-friendly boat landing with a pier.  

I love to see my dogs doing something that they REALLY enjoy.  It gives me great satisfaction to see them so happy.  If the dog doesn't like one or more of the tasks they are training for, you need to find a way for them to have fun with it.  

DeeDee really only loved her dummy and didn't care to do any of the other exercises for Apprentice.  She memorized the order of the exercises.  She would do the underwater retrieve because the dummy throw was next.  She would do the dummy carry to boat because she liked the boat ride and it involved the dummy.  She hated the floating line and wouldn't swim with me.  I had to give her something to do during the swim before she would consistently swim with me.  By teaching her to "touch" my hand with her nose, it gave her an object to focus on during the swim.

I then had to make her love the floating line.  I put the dummy away, and made small pieces of floating line for her to retrieve.  We did lots and lots of tugging, which she loves. After two years, she finally would consent to retrieve the floating line and bring it to me.  Again, we did the majority of our training at home on dry land.  We spent about a month before the trials going to water on Saturdays and Sundays. DeeDee earned her Apprentice Water Dog title at the August water trials this year.

With my first dog Pepper, we were at a national water trial where the weather was very cold, windy and rainy.  Pepper did everything and we were at the two-minute swim for Apprentice.  I put him in a sit stay on the beach and went out in the water.  I called him to come and swim.  He sat there for a bit and just looked at me.  He then got up, turned around and walked back to his crate and went in and laid down.  He knew better than me that it was not a good day for swimming!  I still think that they should have given him a ribbon for having such good common sense.