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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Summer Drills for Retrievers

These training exercises will help you get your dog ready for hunting season
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Diagram 4: Multiple retrieves

During a duck hunt, several birds often fall from a single flock, presenting retrievers with multiple retrieves. Training for this scenario begins by enlisting some help. Two assistants can help you efficiently carry out this important drill.

As the dog's handler, you should select a position and then assign your helpers to separate stations, one 20 to 25 yards to your left and the other 15 to 18 yards to your right. Your retriever remains at your side until one assistant tosses a bumper, at which time you release the dog.

Multiple retrieves

Have your bumper throwers take turns. After your dog successfully retrieves each of these bumpers, switch over to having your helpers throw doubles. Have one assistant toss a bumper. After the bumper drops, carefully turn your dog in the direction of the other assistant and have that person toss a bumper. Line your retriever and send him after one of the bumpers. When the dog returns, take the bumper from his mouth, line him up for the second bumper, and send him. If desired, you can reverse the order of retrieves on the second round.

Stress obedience before starting field training

Duck hunters with young dogs would be well advised to concentrate on instilling basic obedience in their retriever before moving on to more complex field training. The seemingly simple stuff—the sit, come, heel exercises—lay the groundwork for all training to come later. There are plenty of books and videos available describing in detail how to begin obedience training. But, if you are still unsure how to proceed, register your dog in a structured obedience class. Such classes typically run from six to eight weeks, with participants meeting with an instructor one or two hours per week. Dog socialization while attending these classes is another plus.

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