By Will Brantley
Training a retriever can seem an intimidating, complicated process, especially for beginners. Even more daunting can be the thought of preparing a dog to perform in field trials or other retriever tests. After all, what do these events have to do with your average Lab or Chessie that fetches ducks? Quite a bit, actually. If you want to improve your dog’s performance in the field, observing top-notch retrievers and professional trainers and learning why they do what they do can be well worth your time.
Kennel Clubs and Field Trials
When most hunters think of retriever competitions, field trials likely come to mind. Early American field trials, first held in the late 1920s and early 1930s, were simply a way for hunters to test the performance of their dogs in a competitive setting. While field-trial procedures have been refined over the years, they remain highly competitive contests.
Kennel clubs, some of which are also dog registries, often hold various events and shows to highlight desirable qualities inherent to a particular breed. Retrievers are tested, as are various pointing breeds, hounds, spaniels, herding breeds, and many others. Dogs that perform well in their events earn credentials in the form of titles or status points that can be listed on their pedigrees. These credentials make individual dogs more valuable as breeding stock.