It's Not The Dog's Fault

Written by: Dennis Voigt - May 28, 2024

It’s Not the Dog’s Fault by Randy Bohn 

A Step-by Step Training Program to help Noisy and Unruly Retrievers Become Better Competitors 

Book Review by Dennis Voigt 

Attend almost any weekend Field Trial or Hunt Test and you will see a significant number of dogs that don’t heel to line, that creep or bounce around not watching birds, fail to work with the handler or whine in the holding blinds or at the line. Since almost everybody works on these issues but often with mixed success, these are obviously difficult problems for many.  

Today’s high desire dogs are capable of amazing work and they are exciting to watch. There is little doubt that training these dogs is great fun and for many trainers that means running them on set-ups that are challenging in factors. There is so much these dogs need to learn to be successful at the higher levels. Unfortunately, in pursuing that, fundamentals and standards at the line suffer. These intelligent dogs soon learn the rules or lack of them in the exciting “Ready-Set-Go!” atmosphere of training and especially weekend tests. Many techniques and advice can be found to address unruly retrievers. However, the problems remain rampant. 

Randy Bohn has developed a reputation for fixing and rehabilitating unruly and noisy dogs. He has “fixed” about 40 chronic problem dogs and given advice to many others. As an Amateur he had a very successful Labrador Retriever but she had her share of problems at the line and Randy realized how important line manners were. When he turned professional, he focused on teaching his clients to run their own dogs rather than compete himself with their dogs. He soon observed just how common unruly and noisy dogs were and he focused on solving that problem. Now retired, Randy has produced a book describing his step-by-step program to rehab a dog that has developed these problems. 

In the Introduction, Randy describes how these problems develop and how we are the cause. In other words, It’s not the dog’s fault. It’s ours! The program is detailed in 8 Chapters. Each step is done until thoroughly mastered before moving on to the next.  Early steps are done alone at home with a lead, a prong collar and a holding blind and some bumpers. There are no e-collar corrections as that can excite some dogs even more. T While this may seem like no pressure, there is mental pressure to comply. If a dog does not comply you help him do the correct response with the lead and prong collar. It requires patience, persistence and consistency. There is NO FIELD WORK OR GROUP TRAINING during this phase. Eventually a single helper is employed and only in the last step do you re-join your group. But even then, you only honor at first!  

Randy tells me he prefers to do this himself without the owner who caused the problems. He also said a complete re-hab can take 3 months! It’s a question of career-ending problems, 2-10 years of constant frustration or 3 months. Some dogs re-hab faster but not practicing or taking short-cuts usually means failure. 

Steps are basic sit obedience, basic heel obedience, various stages of holding blind obedience eventually with distraction, Retrievers at home, truck and home obedience and finally back to the group for honoring and obedience without retrieves. While those steps are not particularly new to anyone, NOBODY DOES THEM 100% over a long period and without group training. 

I have had Randy’s book for about 6 weeks. I took 2 dogs (one young and one middle-aged and tried all the steps to see how difficult they would be in preparation for this review. I found the early steps were easy, but Randy told me that 80% of the dogs are very poor at Step 1 which involves sitting a dog and walking circles around them at various distances. 

I noticed an immediate improvement in my dog's obedience but since I did some group training the problems soon came back. I had better field obedience and mixed results in competition. Basically, despite very high standards, the program will not re-hab a dog unless you follow it completely. Take the time and avoid un-doing your work by group training or going to trials. In a recent Lone Duck Podcast (Episode 202), Randy describes in detail more about the do’s and don’ts and the standards required. I would recommend listening to that, but you need to get the book to get all the steps.  

The book is clearly written and there are multiple color photos of a dog and handler doing various stages. The book is only 93 pages and can be quickly read! Alas, the steps are not so quick. I suspect many will try the various steps but that few will religiously follow and thoroughly complete. Thus, you might get some minor improvements, but you will not “fix” the problems. Some dogs will be much more of a challenge than others. Randy does not believe that genetics plays as big as role as most think. However, in my experience there is no doubt that certain lines are much more prone to produce noisy or wild dogs. With those dogs your usual training will result in a problem dog when the same training with another dog will not. Thus, Randy’s belief That’s it’s not the 'fault-it's yours!” has merit. With those dogs you still allow the problems to surface by how you train. For some very talented dogs, the proclivity to be whiney will be extremely strong whereas a litter mate may not display an issue. 

The book is available at and for $25USD and $34CDN respectively. 

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Written by: Dennis Voigt| May 28, 2024
Categories:  DVD / Book Review
Keywords:  DVD/Book Reviews

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