Retriever Training: Set Yourself Up For Success by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan

Retriever Training: Set Yourself Up For Success by Pro Trainer Matt Duncan

Over the next several weeks I will be preparing training tips that are geared toward everything hunting retrievers. Including choosing a candidate for training, the health and welfare of your retriever, training and introducing your young retriever to hunting. I would like to take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Matt Duncan and I am the owner and trainer at Bourbon Bay Kennels LLC located in west central Indiana. We train over 40 gundogs and hunt test dogs per year including all of the retriever breeds. I am also a waterfowler and a father to three beautiful children.

Indiana Retriever Training

As the title states “set yourself up for success”. This starts with choosing the right candidate for training. When choosing a puppy I am looking for the big three. Health, train-ability and temperament. A good breeder will have this covered for you ensuring that you will have a dog free of physical or genetic health issues that could interfere with the dogs ability to train or perform the job we are training him to do. Train-ability is the dogs ability to learn. All dogs are trainable to some extent but we would like a dog that is very trainable therefor stacking the deck in our favor that the dog will successfully make it through an entire program and end up being the stylish and gritty retriever everyone would like to share a blind with. We do this by buying a puppy with a sire and dam that we would like to own. Lastly, temperament is important. We do not need a dog that is aggressive, skittish or socially inept. This is where a good breeder can also really pay off as early puppy development and socialization are paramount. Puppies are sponges and a good breeder knows that and will have already begun to stimulate and socialize your puppy to many differing things before pick up day arrives and will probably be able to tell you which pup in the litter is likely to meet your needs.

So pick up day is here and we are heading home with the new addition and the fun begins. I like to take that first few days to just get the puppy acquainted with his new home, begin crate training and bonding. I want to focus on building a relationship with the puppy based on trust, fairness and respect right from the beginning and then carry that though the dogs entire life. Now that the puppy is acclimated and we have a good relationship we are going to go on walks in the field, have the puppy drag a 25′ rope the whole walk and start socializing him to various types of cover and obstacles. We call them “nature walks”. I am also going to try and get the puppy chasing a thrown object. He may pick it up and then he may not show any interest at all. If that’s the case just wait a couple days and try again. One place to start retrieving is in the hallway of the house where there aren’t any distractions and the puppy has no place to go other than back to you where you’ll be waiting to love him up for the return. We aren’t going to try to steady the puppy or anything formal. We are simply trying to keep things fun and get the puppy crazy about retrieving.

There are also some basic supplies you will need for training. To get started you will need a flat buckle collar, a 20′ to 30′ check cord, a few small WHITE bumpers and a whistle. All items that are available at Those items will get you through puppyhood until it is time to start formal training. Another thing you will need is a little time set aside everyday, a lot of patience and the ability to remain consistent. Although it is very important to socialize our puppies we also must realize that the puppy is not protected from parvovirus or distemper until it has had its booster vaccination. Places to avoid are dog parks, highway rest areas and pet stores. Every Friday there will be a new article and over time we will cover all aspects of retriever training. If any of you have questions or would like an article on a particular phase of training please reach out to us and let us know. Thanks and happy training!

Don’t forget that you should get all your gear from Retriever Training Gear

Don’t forget to get put your Hunting Dog photo’s on the Marsh Mutt Brag Board
Matt Duncan
Bourbon Bay Kennels LLC.

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