The Tale of Two Dogs
When you have two dogs with two different temperaments be prepared to deal with them in different ways. I hear all the time "my last dog wasn't like this..." Even if you're familiar with a breed, two dogs from the same litter will pick up different traits. Different traits are going to require different fluctuations in your training. It's important to be able to be open-minded that perhaps your retriever you just picked up will be a little different this time around than the one you grew up with. Maybe even very different. My dogs for example: Zelda is not a food motivated dog. She generally is not a motivated dog in any sense of the word. The common misconception is that she is like a typical German
shepherd, eager to please, energetic, and crazy unless shes working. She's quite literally a couch potato. She would rather lay on the couch with you and lounge instead of doing any obedience. And she shuts down- very quick. No matter how happy and positive you are in the entire session. Link, on the other hand, is VERY motivated. Very engaged and VERY eager to please.... when he's working for food. Now Siberian huskies were bred to run, not think, so he does has a limit on what he can do in a day. But he LOVES to learn, and LOVES to train.
I don't push Zelda into doing anything I don't feel comfortable with, she let's me know what her limits are, and Link I push to his limits because he is BEGGING for it.
Zelda is constantly working on self confidence, while Link is constantly working on self restraint. Two polar opposite problems require two polar opposite responses. Zelda is not like any other German
shepherd the same way Link is like any other husky, and both had very different puppy-hoods and upbringings and on top of it all- they are completely different breeds! Another example was my Lab mixes growing up. We had kept two siblings out of the litter, a male and a female. Both dogs had different preferences when it came to training. My male, Bumblebee was very endurance based and he could train to hours at a time. He would be out on our 2 acres of land fetching chuck-its and searching for items all day. He was a workaholic, he just never got tired. Scout, our female, worked for speed. Once she was tired, it was like pulling teeth getting her to do anything other than cuddle.
Two different dogs, from the same litter.
What you need to understand is your dog has a genetic disposition (and possible history in a wrong state of mind if you're rescuing) and based on that will require different reinforcements to get where you want them to be. Be aware of it, adjust yourself to the dog in front of you. There's never a one size fits all.