To all dog trainers out there..... Help needed

Posted this in the main forum as well.

Adopted a 3 year old golden from a member. He is a great dog and has had some field training.

I am willing to put int he time required to make him a more proficient field and fowl hunter. I do not however, have knowledge required to do this, yet.... I am confident I can get the basics down, but it's the hunting specific drills I need assistance with.

Looking for tips, books, videos, hell anything you've got that may help me out.

Thanks in advance!



Active Member
You might want to look into a club. There are a number of retriever clubs in the Puget Sound area. I belong to a NAHRA and AKC affiliated club. We have training ground in Dewatto. The club has organized training days every second Saturday of the month. However many of us are out there training on our own as well. Some are willing to help, others are running multiple dogs with little time to chat. They're not rude - just trying to stay on-task. OK, some are rude.

Choose the club with ground closest to you.
I've hunted Golden's over the years and the most important thing you need to know is where the dog came from. Golden's are great pets, but many of them are not from hunting lines. If this dog didn't come from a hunting line, you may be in for a lot of frustration. The first thing you need to do is determine whether or not the dog is gun shy. If it is, I would quit right there and not try to create a hunting dog.

If it isn't, start with retrieving scented dummys (duck and phesant). Then move on to drag scented dummys for you dog to track and find. Golden's have good noses and work close, so buy some chukars and read up on training an upland bird dog. Lot's of resources. You probably won't have to do much on ducks,
their natural retriever instinct will take over and all you will need to do is train for commands.

I'm making the training sound easy. There are books-and-books written on the finer points of hunting dog protocol, but that will be up to you as to how far you want to go in developing a bird dog.

Congratulations on rescuing a potential hunting companion. You will be rewarded many times over to have a hunting partner that will stick with you through thick or thin, plus with a Golden Retriever, a truly great pet.
Thanks Bushwacker-

Based on what I know, he has hunted upland birds. So, I am sure he is not gun shy.

We trained for an hour today, which is our 5th day. Today was his best day so far. Actually made quit a few retrieves and was excited about it.

He heels, sits, stays, pretty much all basics down. And we have been using scented dummies. I think I will work him on the basics for another week or so pending results and then look to move into putting out decoys, scents, etc. I will also look to introduce a gun soon as well.

Thanks again....
Best advice I have:

There's many books out there. My favorite are the Dick Wolters "Gun Dog" series, but there's others. Read, think, pet your pal, and then do it. Introduce your pal to gunfire with a cap gun while you're throwing the ball and playing in the yard, a 3 year old should have it down already, but, that's OK, just teach them that the "bang" isn't anything to worry about through your reaction.

You'd be well served, though, to emphasize just going hunting. Your dog just wants to make you happy, and will. More hunting experience, better hunting dog for you. And don't worry what anybody else thinks or says, your dog just needs to make you happy. They will, if you give them the time and experience.

Goldens are wonderful dogs, and great companions. I don'nt know if my current dog Dutch will ever crap a bird dog's turd, but there's nobody I'd rather go with.

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
A club is a great idea for a novice, however if pup has the basics down the Wolter's book, as mentioned is a super resource. Training does take time & refreshers throughout the years of your relationship is also important. I tend to use more gentle training methods & always try to end a session on a positive note. The "training" goes both ways, too . . . your dog will teach you as you go. Don't forget conditioning . . . in the field, your dog will cover much more territory than you will. Good luck.


Active Member
I think you will find that most clubs, on training days, will set up multiple scenarios from 20 yards marks for puppies to 150 yard multiple marks and complex blinds for advanced dogs. We often also have birds. Training days provides a new handler with an opportunity to see what finished gun dogs can do, to help assess where your dog is in the bigger picture, and how to move your dog forward through your interaction with other handlers. Actually going to a training day, watching dogs, watching handlers and seeking the advice from the best that day will yield better results than taking advice from anonymous posters on the internet.

Interestingly enough my view of Wolters book is the opposite - it is good for basics. I lived about 30 minutes from Wolters in NoVA (around Fredericksburg) and used to train with his clan until we left about 10 years ago. We still run NAHRA, which Wolters is credited with starting in response to field trials that had little resemblance to hunting. Our "nationals" are called the Richard Wolters Invitational, where dogs qualify to compete by their cumulative scores throughout the year. The methods in his books were not methods that he / we used. He often said that if we put actual training methods into books then he would not sell any nooks because the general public would view them as too aggressive. As an example, there is no mention of e-collars, which were in their primitive state when Wolters was writing, but still widely used by him and the group. Wolters book will provide superb basic information, but it in no way will allow you to create a finished gun dog - it will provide you with a tiny glimpse. It will provide you with basics on how to introduce blinds retrieves, how to introduce multiple marks, etc. Since that publication however, our understanding of dog training and training tools available to us has increased tenfold, and none of that will be reflected in the book, and all are valuable tools.