How to Train a Curly-Coated Retriever Dog Puppy

The first step in training a Curly-Coated Retriever puppy is choosing the right puppy. Curly-Coated Retrievers are medium-large gun dogs bred for hunting and retrieving birds in water. They have tight curls or waves in their dense, water-resistant coat. Curlies, as they are nicknamed, are active, friendly dogs that thrive when they have a job to do. An ideal Curly puppy will be eager to please, attentive, and not overly shy or aggressive.

When selecting a Curly puppy, look for one from health tested parents with good temperaments. Meet the puppy's mother and littermates if possible to get an idea of the pup's genetics. Choose an outgoing puppy that approaches you willingly. Avoid fearful or aggressive pups. Selecting the right puppy will make training much easier.

Preparing For Your Puppy's Arrival

Once you choose your Curly puppy, start preparing for its arrival. Puppy-proof your home by removing dangerous objects and securing fragile items. Set up an exercise pen or crate in a central area. The crate will be the puppy's safe space for naps and quiet time. Gather all the puppy supplies you will need: food and water bowls, collar, leash, bed, toys, enzymatic cleaner, and more.

Schedule a vet visit to get your puppy's first exam and vaccinations. Ask your vet forrecommendations on nutrition, heartworm prevention, flea/tick control, and other healthcare. Find a local puppy kindergarten class you can take your puppy to for early socialization. With preparation, you'll be ready to welcome your Curly Coated Retriever puppy home.

Bringing Your Curly Puppy Home

The first day with your Curly puppy is exciting but don't overstimulate the puppy. Keep arrivals low-key and allow the puppy to adjust to its new environment. Set up an area just for the puppy with its crate, toys, pad, food and water. Take the puppy outside frequently to encourage it to potty outside. Praise and give treats for potties in the right spot.

Bond with your puppy by sitting on the floor and interacting gently. Let the puppy come to you and smell you rather than grabbing at the puppy. Introduce the puppy slowly to new sights, sounds, smells, and people to avoid overwhelming it. Keep introductions brief and positive. Set a consistent schedule for feeding, playtime, training, and rest. With patience, your puppy will soon feel right at home.

Housetraining Your Curly Puppy

An important part of training a Curly Coated Retriever puppy is housetraining. Puppies under 6 months old cannot reliably control their bladders and bowels. With a consistent schedule and positive reinforcement, you can teach your puppy good housetraining habits.

Establish a routine of taking your puppy outside frequently, at least every 1-2 hours when they're active. Take your puppy out when they wake up, after playtime, and after meals. Choose a bathroom spot outside and take your puppy to that spot on a leash. Use a command like "Go potty." When they go, give enthusiastic praise and a treat.

When indoors, watch for signs they need to go – circling, sniffing, or squatting. If you see signs, immediately take them outside. Supervise closely until potty trained. Crate train to help avoid indoor accidents. Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner. With time and consistency, your Curly will learn to eliminate only outside.

Crate Training Your Curly Puppy

Crate training is essential for housetraining and teaching your Curly puppy to settle. Dogs are den animals and a crate is like a secure den for your puppy. For crate training, get a crate large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down. Make the crate welcoming with a comfy bed, toys, and treats.

Begin crate training on your puppy's first day home. Feed meals inside the crate with the door open so they associate it with good things. Practice crating for short periods while you're home. Give praise and treats when they go inside. Never use the crate to punish. If your puppy whines, take them out to potty and avoid rewarding whining with attention.

Gradually increase crating periods. Keep sessions positive and stimulating by giving chews or food puzzles in the crate. Night crate your puppy in your bedroom to prevent overnight accidents. Proper crate training will give your Curly an enjoyable retreat.

Socializing Your Curly Coated Retriever Puppy

Curly Coated Retrievers thrive when well socialized at a young age. Socialization teaches puppies to be comfortable in a variety of environments and prevents fearfulness. Introduce your Curly puppy to many types of people – men, women, children of different ages and appearances. Let friendly strangers offer treats to your puppy while petting under the chin rather than on top of the head.

Expose your puppy to different locations – parks, trails, car rides, pet stores. Carry small puppies to avoid picking up germs from the ground in public places. Arrange controlled meetings with vaccinated, gentle dogs to teach proper play skills. Introduce grooming, handling their paws and ears, and teeth brushing. Keep sessions short, positive and at your puppy's pace. Reward bravery with praise and treats. Frequent socialization will help your Curly grow into a confident, friendly adult dog.

Handling and Grooming Your Curly Puppy

Regular handling and grooming prepares your Curly puppy for veterinary visits, brushing, bathing, and other care. Start handling exercises as soon as you bring your puppy home. Gently touch your puppy's paws, ears, muzzle, tail, and body to get them used to manipulation. Look inside ears and mouth. Rub and massage puppy's body while praising and rewarding with treats.

Brush your Curly puppy frequently with a soft brush to prevent matting as their adult coat develops. Check feet for debris between toes. Trim nails every 1-2 weeks. Make grooming relaxing by giving treats and praise. Take your puppy to the vet exam table and reward them for good behavior. Patient, positive handling exercises will prevent struggles with grooming and exams.

Training Basic Commands

Curly Coated Retriever puppies are very intelligent and eager to learn. Start training basic obedience commands at 8-12 weeks old using reward-based methods. Keep training sessions short, about 5 minutes max. End on a positive note to keep puppy engaged and interested in training.

Use treats that puppy loves and give enthusiastically when they respond to a cue. For a solid Sit, hold a treat over pup's nose and slowly move hand behind the head so they sit back. Reward Verbally praise and treat. Train Down by holding the treat in your fist on the floor so puppy follows treat with nose down. Stand up when they lie down.

Practice Come by running backwards and rewarding puppy for coming to you. Gradually introduce distractions and new environments once commands are learned well at home. Keep training fun and be your puppy's cheerleader. The mental stimulation will help tire out your smart Curly pup.

Leash Training Your Curly Coated Retriever

The intelligent, energetic Curly Coated Retriever benefits from early leash training. Before beginning leash training, fit puppy with a properly sized buckle collar and 6 foot leash. Let the puppy drag the leash around indoors while supervised first. Then pick up the leash and encourage the puppy to walk with you, giving treats for following you.

Aim to tire out your Curly puppy before leash training sessions. Walk at a brisk pace and change directions often. Reward for attention on you. If they pull, stop and call puppy back to your side and continue walking. End each session on a positive note, praising successes.

Increase distractions gradually after your puppy masters basic leash walking at home and in your yard. Have puppy sit and look at you when dogs or people pass by. With consistency and patience, your Curly pup will become a leash walking expert.

Preventing Nipping and Biting

Curly puppies are mouthy dogs that may playfully nip and bite, especially when teething. While those sharp puppy teeth can hurt, it's important not to react angrily. Harsh corrections can make biting worse. Instead, teach your Curly puppy bite inhibition.

When puppy's teeth touch skin, give a high-pitched "Ouch," stand up and ignore your puppy for 20-30 seconds. This teaches the painful result of biting. Provide chew toys to relieve teething discomfort. Reward gently mouthing toys. If overly excited, have puppy take a nap in their crate to calm down.

Avoid wrestling, tug of war or rough play which encourages biting.With consistency, your Curly pup will learn to play nice as they master bite control.

Preventing Jumping Up

Curly Coated Retriever puppies love being around their people. That enthusiasm may lead them to jump up, especially on welcoming visitors. While it's cute when they're little, you'll want to curb jumping before they are full grown.

When puppy jumps up, turn away, cross your arms and ignore until all feet are on the floor. Reward with attention when they sit. Ask guests to also ignore jumping and reward sits. Keep puppy on a leash when new people arrive to easily control them.

Work on Sit and Sit-Stay commands to reinforce keeping four paws down. If jumping persists, say "Off" and gently push puppy off, then enforce the Sit command. Consistency from everyone will help your bouncy Curly learn good manners.

Introducing New Family Members

Adding a new family member needs proper introductions to your Curly puppy. When bringing home a new baby, have someone take home blankets with baby's scent before arrival. Bring puppy to meet baby at a distance for brief sessions. Give lots of praise and treats for polite behavior.

Teach older children appropriate handling and giving the puppy space when resting. Always supervise young kids with the Curly puppy. If you have existing pets, introduce them outside first on neutral territory. Keep interactions brief and positive, allowing your pets to adjust.

Feed pets in separate areas and give separate individual attention. Having your Curly meet new family members properly will lead to future acceptance and bonding.

Teaching the "Drop It" Command

The "Drop it" command teaches your Curly puppy to give up an object on cue. This is an important behavior to prevent swallowing harmful items. Start training with low value items your puppy is willing to release.

Show a treat, give the drop cue and offer the treat when they spit out the item. Use two different treats – one for taking the item and one higher value for the drop itself. Practice with toys and other items, working up to high value items like food.

Only say "Drop it" once and wait puppy out, don't repeat or pull the item. Reward generously when they let go. This builds confidence dropping on command. Useful for retrieving training and emergency situations, a solid Drop It is a must for Curly puppies.

Retrieving Training

Retrieving comes naturally to Curly Coated Retrievers, bred for waterfowl hunting. Start training retrieval early using their instincts to your advantage. Let your Curly puppy chase and carry tossed toys and balls. Say "Fetch" when you throw and "Give" when you take the object back. Offer treats and throw the toy again.

Work on polite hand-offs with two toys. When your puppy brings one back, show them the other toy. When they drop the first toy to get the new one, reward. Increase distance and introduce a Retrieve dummy on land and in water. Always keep sessions fun with lots of praise. Your Curly will delight in using their talents.


Most Curly Coated Retrievers love swimming instinctively, but some may need encouragement and training for confidence. Introduce your Curly puppy to water gradually with shallow wading pools, ponds and lakes. Make it positive with toys, treats and praise for interacting with water.

Gradually increase the depth as your puppy shows enjoyment. Accompany them at first for reassurance if needed. Drop retrieve toys in water nearby and encourage Bringing them back. Swim out into water yourself and call puppy for short distances. Increase distance as they gain competence. Maintain eagerness by not overdoing sessions. Water fun will help satisfy your Curly's instincts.

Agility Training

Agile, energetic Curly Coated Retrievers thrive at dog agility training. Starting as a puppy lays a foundation for enjoyment and success. Look for classes or clubs with experienced instructors. Ensure puppies have proper guidance on equipment and no forced training methods are used.

Start by socializing your Curly puppy in the agility training environment. Observe other dogs and walk over and around equipment without use. When your puppy shows interest, let them explore while keeping sessions brief and positive. Build basic obedience skills like Sit, Down, Come, Wait and Stay first.

Introduce simple equipment like tunnels, low jumps and teeter totters under close supervision, allowing puppy to set the pace. Work up slowly in height and difficulty. Ensure proper development for long jumps and weave poles. Training with joy and confidence will enable your talented Curly to thrive.

Off-Leash Training

Curly Coated Retrievers have keen hunting instincts that compel them to roam and explore off leash if allowed. That makes reliable off-leash control essential. Begin training in low distraction environments first. Reward attention frequently with high-value treats for checking in. Practice emergency stops and come commands from short distances.

Gradually add distractions like toys and other dogs at a distance. Vary your pace on walks to teach flexibility. Ensure strong obedience in exciting environments before going fully off leash in unfenced areas. Always use a long line if not 100% reliable. Retrievers must be able to be called off of instinctive chases. Take training slow for safety and responsibility. Your devoted Curly will learn to keep focus on you when free.

Traveling with Your Curly Coated Retriever

The loyal Curly Coated Retriever wants to accompany you everywhere. With training, your Curly can be a great travel companion. Socialize your puppy thoroughly to a variety of places, vehicles and situations. Use a secured crate in the car for safety and comfortable confinement.

Practice car rides first before longer trips. Reward calm behavior in the car, not whining or excitement. Teach your Curly to settle on cue using treats and praise. When stopping on trips, leash walk before allowing exercise off leash in safe areas. Bring food, water bowls and pup's bedding to feel at home when traveling.

Know pet policies and restrictions at hotels, events or attractions before bringing your dog. Pack supplies like collapsible bowls, potty bags, first aid kit and cleaning products. With planning and training, you'll enjoy bringing your Curly companion along on adventures.

Preparing Your Curly Coated Retriever for Hunting

Curly Coated Retrievers excel at hunting and field work. Preparation starts early, choosing a puppy from field and hunt breeding lines. Expose your Curly to birds and gunfire gradually in controlled settings. Work on obedience and steady response to commands when distracted.

Introduce birds with clipped wings on land first under supervision. Allow them to point, flush and retrieve while rewarding steady focus on you. Practice water retrieving using bumpers and birds in small ponds. Reinforce prompt delivery to hand.

When your Curly is responding reliably on land and water, introduce gunfire out of sight first, then at a distance with a .22 pistol. Advance to shotgun training if they show no signs of gun shyness. Work gradually up to hunting conditions while ensuring confidence and control. Well-prepared Curlies will take to hunting and field work with natural flair.

Choosing a Dog Sport or Activity

Smart, energetic Curly Coated Retrievers thrive when given an outlet for their abilities. Choose dog sports or activities that appeal to your interests and your dog's strengths. Agility, rally obedience, and flyball are great for their athleticism and handler focus.

Field trials, hunt tests or hunting are ideal for their retrieving instincts. Obedience, trick training and canine freestyle apply their intelligence and trainability. Conformation showing highlights their Distinctive breed traits. Dock diving, lure coursing and treibball offer fun athletic options too.

Match activities to your Curly's personality – mellow Curlies enjoy rally, nosework and therapy work while drivey Curlies love field work and high-drive sports. Know your breed's needs and provide sufficient physical and mental exercise daily, whether through sports, training, play or off-leash hiking. An engaged, active Curly is a happy Curly.

Grooming Your Curly Coated Retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever has a dense, curly single coat requiring regular grooming. Check feet for thorns and debris after outdoor activities. Trim toenails as needed, usually every 1-2 weeks. Curlies are prone to ear infections so check and clean ears weekly. Brush coat to minimize tangles using a slicker brush and follow with a steel comb. Avoid over-brushing the dense coat which can cause it to frizz.

Bathe your Curly as needed using a mild dog shampoo. For dry or sensitive skin, choose a soothing oatmeal shampoo.

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