It’s up to you as to how much you want to put into your dog. I prefer to start with a young pup, somewhere between 4-6 months old, is best. I think that is a critical time to get a puppy started on sit-stay-come and most important, to retrieve.
At this age, my goal is to have the puppy love to retrieve and enjoy doing it. Encouraging the puppy in a positive environment, usually with other puppies of similar age, helps instill the idea in the puppy that will never leave them.
I teach them to sit, stay and come to the whistle. I have both live and dead birds to use along with training bumpers.
I am not like other trainers when it comes to “force fetch”. I go by the individual dog and how well each dog takes the pressure of a “force hold”. That’s right a “force hold” not a “force fetch”.
If you want your dog to “deliver to hand” or run a hunt test, it must go through some kind of force.
I have trained dogs on a bench with a “force fetch”, but I feel like a dog that loves to retrieve, and has natural ability, should not have to go through the pressure of the “force fetch”.
I have trained all my dogs by what I call a “force hold”. That doesn’t make “force fetch” wrong, It’s just not my way.
When your dog is ready, I start using remote bird and bumper launchers to teach longer and longer marking on land and then move to water. I use a combination of bumpers, live birds and dead birds when training.
I have access to train on the 320 acre Featherhorn Ranch in Florence, MT. This provides me with unlimited scenarios of land and water training areas.
The Featherhorn Ranch is also the training grounds of the Bitterroot Valley Retriever Club. This club is dedicated to the advancement and training of all retriever breeds.
We train together often and you, as an owner/handler, can join the club and learn from other owner/handlers (as I did) and get comfortable with the commands and process of working your dog in a real life hunting setting.
So, if this is sounding like something that might fit you and your dogs needs, please give us a call or drop us an e-mail.
Randy and Kimbra