Training with Mitch – Lesson 1

June 9, 2010

Fellow Retriever Trainers:

Last week I blogged that Mitch and I would be writing about Platform Training.  I posted the equipment list for you.  In hopes that each of you have built your very own platform to prepare for our platform training series, we are now ready for your first lesson.  It’s time to put your platform in a place that it will stay put for the duration of platform training, grab your E-Collar, your heeling stick, handler’s tab and let’s go.  By the way, don’t forget your retriever!

Before we get started, please always remember to have patience with your retriever.  If you get tense or upset, please walk away from training.  If you have not previously used a heeling stick and or E-Collar, please speak with someone who has experience and ask that they show you the proper way to use a heeling stick and E-Collar.  Most times, a light tap with the heeling stick will get the point across to your retriever.  Also remember that in this training process, we are teaching your dog in steps.  It’s easier for the retriever to learn in steps.  Once your retriever learns each step, it will tie all of the steps together to complete the process in whole.  Happy Training!

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Where to place the platform?

Place platform in a safe convenient place that you can utilize several times per day/week.  Keep the platform away from the kennel or other distractions.  If you have a sidewalk adjacent to a grassy area in your yard, place it on the sidewalk and leave it there for all of the initial lessons. (Important).


Duration 4-5 Minutes.  Important, no more than 10 minutes training time.  After 10 minutes, go onto something else.  Do not make this a marathon.  Keep the lessons short and ALL BUSINESS.

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Place the E-Collar on the dog.  Attach a short (6-12 inch) handler tab on the collar.  Instruct your dog to heel as you walk to the platform.  Encourage the dog to get on the platform.  Help with the handler tab as necessary.  Give a little praise when the dog has four feet on the platform and sits.  Make sure to reinforce sit with a heeling stick as needed.  If the dog wants to come off of the platform before you have asked it to, use the heeling stick to tap its front feet until the dog learns that all four feet remain on the platform.

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Instruct the dog to heel as you heel the dog off the platform to the place where you started, approximately 5-10 feet away.  Use this same spot to start your training lesson each time.  Do NOT try from different spots yet. Use the same path to and from the platform.  Do NOT allow the dog to move from the platform until you command heel and go back from your starting point.  Use the heeling stick for violation of the sit command for correction.  Use the heeling stick if the feet come off the platform, just tap the toes.  Repeat as many times as it takes over several sessions until your dog will easily go to the platform and sit.

When the dog will easily go to the platform and sit, start using the “Kennel” command.  Standing 5-10 feet from the platform, instruct the dog to heel as you walk toward platform and command “KENNEL.”  Important:  You give 1 Command for 1 Action. Do not say to your dog, “Kennel, Kennel, Kennel,”  Tell it once, and make sure the dog does it the one time you command it, unless you want it to do nothing until you have repeated yourself 3 times.  At this point, your dog has no concept of what “Kennel” means.  So, repetition is the key.  Continue at least 3 lessons using the “kennel” command.

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

Mitch Hainsfurther, Webfoot Kennel

You have now completed 5-6 lessons in platform training.  The dog goes willingly to the platform with you and it sits.  If not, keep teaching until the dog understands to heel along by your side and will kennel up onto the platform.

Please make sure to have fun with your retrieving companion while training.  Keep it simple and your dog will love it.  Having your dog kennel, sit and stay on a platform, in a blind, a dog kennel, boat or anywhere you wish is so rewarding.  Both you and your dog will be much happier once this training series is completed successfully.  Dogs need jobs to do.  When you train them and they are able to work, they feel worthwhile.  They won’t get bored as quickly because you are keeping their brain and body active!   Always keep the following in mind when training:  Exercise, rules and boundaries then reward with love and affection!  Given that, please come back and enjoy reading Lesson 2 of Platform Training next week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask here on the blog.  If you are looking for an excellent trainer, you can contact Mitch from his site at

Webfoot Kennel, Carlinville Illinois

If you would like photos of your hunt test, are in need of stock photos or need retriever training supplies, please contact me at  Total Retriever Photography & Supply Store

Take care and Mitch and I will hopefully see you at the line!

Wendy Porch

Total Retriever Photography & Supply Store

Total Retriever Photography & Supply Store

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