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retriever training


Duck Dog: Warming Up Your Retriever

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels details why and how you should warm up your retriever before a hunt to avoid injuries.

Cross-Training Your Retriever

Retrievers that lie around all summer and pack on weight are not likely to perform up to par in the duck blind when waterfowl season starts. Because there are no shortcuts to conditioning a duck dog, Mike Stewart recommends regular exercise throughout the year. He's a big believer in cross-training retrievers by engaging them in a variety of activities such as hunting, swimming, running, and walking as part of a sporting lifestyle. Here are seven fun cross-training activities that you can do with your retriever to add variety to his training program during the off-season.

Mastering the Blind Retrieve

Retrievers are hard-wired to fetch fallen birds. When a retriever sees a bird fall, his natural instinct is to go out and get it. Honing that innate ability so the dog hunts for you and not for himself is the key to the training process. For this reason, the blind retrieve is perhaps the ultimate test of a finished duck dog.

March 2016 Gear Guide

Training a gun dog is a year-round process, and familiarizing a retriever to the right equipment is important. The March Gear Guide focuses on several key training tools and supplemental gear to get the most out of every training sessions this spring, and in turn, this fall.

Retrievers: The Bottom Line

The decision to get a new retriever is seldom merely a matter of weighing the costs versus the benefits. Some folks can't imagine living without a dog, much less hunting without one. The choice often comes down to heartstrings as much as it does to purse strings. Nevertheless, all prospective dog owners should understand that the investment they're about to make will be significant. Here's a rundown of just some of the expenses you're likely to incur if you decide to take the plunge and get a new dog this spring.

Reducing Stress to Optimize Performance in the Field for Retrievers

As the owner of a hardworking dog bracing for the upcoming Light Goose Conservation Order season, you know that he is prone to stress from days spent retrieving in the field. The duration and intensity at which your dog retrieves, combined with cold weather, travel and exposure to other dogs in a new environment, are contributing factors to this natural stress that challenges a dog's gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Good Manners

Helpful tips on how to raise a well-behaved retriever

Watch for signs of limber tail after a hard day in the marshes

During waterfowl season, you want your hardworking, eager-to-please retriever to be healthy and well-conditioned so that he or she can assist you in the duck blind. However, after a vigorous day in the marshes, you may notice your hunting partner's tail hanging limply, as though it may be broken. Damaged tail muscles can cause this condition, known as limber tail syndrome.

Field Notes: Duck Dog: Hiding Your Dog

Tips on hiding your retriever while hunting, from Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels.

Field Notes: Duck Dog: Preventing a Creeper

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels shows some techniques for training a dog to stay without "creeping" towards you.

Super Sniffers

Many years ago I had a German short-haired pointer named Nick. He was the runt of the litter, but he grew up to become 65 pounds of solid muscle. We were living in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago at the time, and I was a member of a small duck club that just happened to share a property line with a commercial put-and-take upland bird hunting operation. Pheasants, quail, and chukars that eluded the day-shooters sometimes ended up on the duck club property, where they became fair game.

Hunting Retrievers Benefit from Healthy Hydration

Driven to please, your retriever enjoys waterfowl hunting as much as you do. To help your hunting partner do his job well, you want to make sure he or she is physically fit and in shape to retrieve.

Performance Dog Foods Give Retrievers Energy for Waterfowling

Waterfowling is a high-energy sport – especially for retrievers

Ten Performance Tips for Retrievers

Here are 10 expert tips that will help your duck dog achieve peak performance during the hunting season.

Retrievers: The First Six Months

Dog training can be a challenging endeavor, particularly for a novice working with his or her first retriever. If you acquire a puppy, your patience may be tested far more during the first six months of ownership than at any other time. It's important to recognize right from the start that your puppy knows almost nothing at seven or eight weeks of age. Once home, the pup becomes a student. And you are his primary teacher.

Six Essential Commands for Retrievers

Here's a brief primer on 6 basic commands that will help set the stage for your retriever's future training and hunting success:

Photos: Duck Dogs of the 2014-2015 Waterfowl Season

This collection of waterfowl hunting dog images from the 2014-2015 season is an excellent display of a duck dog's passion for the field.

Treating your dog's pads

Mike Stewart, owner of Wildrose Kennels, explains how to treat your dog's pads and protect them from the harsh conditions during waterfowl season.

Field Notes: Dog Blinds

Dog trainer Mike Stewart explains how to build a blind to keep your retriever hidden and comfortable. Visit ducks.org/DUTV for other DU TV Better Waterfowling Tips and more.

Field Notes: Decoy Spreads and Retrievers

Dog trainer Mike Stewart explains how to train your dog to deal with distractions like decoy spreads, motion decoys, and jerk strings. Visit ducks.org/DUTV for other DU TV Better Waterfowling Tips and more.

Retriever Training Tip: Early versus late feedings

Wildrose Kennels Nutrition Essentials: Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains whether it's best to feed your retriever before or after hunt.

SportDog Brand - The Fowlers

SportDog Brand, a proud DU partner created a unique dog training film, focusing not only on training, but the relationships between handler and a gun dog. The Fowlers follows SportDog Category Managers Darrell Douglas and Clay Thompson and COO Willie Wallace as they discuss their waterfowl hunting journeys with their dogs.

9 Essentials for Traveling with Your Retriever

Reduce stress on your retriever by following these nine tips.

Retriever Training Tip: Nutrition Essentials

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels discusses the nutrition essentials for an active gun dog. Proper nutrition for your hunting dog can impact performance in the field.

Off to a Good Start

Here's how to introduce a young retriever to the basics of waterfowling. By Gary Koehler.

Introducing Your Dog to Water

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains how to introduce your dog to water.

Retriever Training: Indoor or Outdoor Dogs

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains whether or not an indoor or outdoor retriever makes a difference in regards to retrieving abilities.

April 2014 Gear Guide

Retriever trainers know that fine-tuning a waterfowling dog is year-round process. Begin this year's training sessions with the most recent retriever training gear and tools.

Retriever Rehab

Expert advice on how you can get your older retriever back in top form in time for hunting season.

Pure Goldens

Golden retrievers have a long history as splendid gun dogs. By Gary Koehler.

Drake the DU Dog: A First in Conservation and Waterfowling

More than two-thirds of Ducks Unlimited members own dogs, but as the organization's official mascot for 13 years, Drake belonged to every DU member. Along with his owner and trainer, Mike Stewart, Drake regularly appeared on Ducks Unlimited Television (DU TV) and ducks.org. Stewart and Drake traveled widely, hunting waterfowl across the United States and Canada and attending numerous DU national conventions, outdoor festivals and other events.

Ducks Unlimited K9 Club

Enroll your dog in the all new Ducks Unlimited K9 Club, and he will be part of an organization committed to ensuring that the future of waterfowl hunting is brighter for generations to come.

Retriever Training: Pigeons on a String

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains how he uses live pigeons on a string to teach his retrievers basic obedience, steadiness and crucial hunting skills.

Retriever Training Tip: Maneuvering Decoys

Preventing Hard Mouth

Advance preparation is the best way to keep your retriever from mangling birds

Retriever Training: Shed hunting

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains how to get your retriever to find shed antlers.

March 2013 Gear Guide

Retriever training is a year-round process and to be sure your retriever is in top shape for next season, it's time to get to work. The DU Newsletter editorial team has chosen a handful of retriever training items that may help you prepare a puppy – or an experienced dog – for the 2013-2014 waterfowl season.

Retriever Training: Using a lead in the blind

With Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels and Deke the DU Dog

Retriever Training: Using Bird Feathers

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains how to use real bird feathers to train your retriever.

Retriever Training: The Block

We have all been caught by surprise when our hunting dog has an apparent mental block and hits a wall in training or on a hunt.

Retriever Training: Finding birds deep in the woods

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels demonstrates retriever training tips for your dog. Featuring Deke the DU Dog.

Retrievers: Remote Control

The ability to direct your retriever with hand signals is invaluable in the field

Retriever Training: Protect your dog's joints

Mike Stewart, Wildrose Kennels, explains a few ways to protect your retriever's joints. Putting too much stress on a young dog's joints will cause problems later in life.

Retriever Training: Getting your dog to focus

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels offers trainers a few lessons in getting your retriever to focus on you for commands.

Retriever Training: Look to the sky

Mike Stewart, of Wildrose Kennels explains how he trained Deke the DU dog, to look towards the sky for birds.

Canine Communicators

Understanding, then applying the principles of canine communication is fundamental to achieving performance, compatibility, and excellent behaviors in any dog, whether it is for sport, working, or family companionship.

Retriever Training: Steadiness on a Stick

Mike Stewart from Wildrose Kennels explains how he trained Deke, the DU dog, on steadiness by using a pigeon on a stick.

Retrievers: The All-American Chessie

In terms of loyalty, Chessies will never waiver if treated properly. They are intelligent, independent-minded dogs that will form an extremely strong bond with their owner or trainer. Make friends with a Chessie, and you've made a friend for life.

Retriever Training: Far-Bank Retrieves

A serious challenge for many dogs is what's known as a far-bank retrieve, where the dog has to cross an expanse of water and then hunt on land for a bird that has crawled into vegetation on the opposite shore. This may not seem difficult, but it can be a confusing situation for a retriever.

Retriever Training: Maneuver Your Retriever through Decoys

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels provides tips for maneuvering decoys.

Retriever Training: Deke versus the Heat

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels provides tips for keeping your dog from overheating during summer training exercises. Keep your hunting partner cool while getting ready for opening day with the help of Wildrose and Deke the DU Dog.

Retriever Training Tip: Inside, Off Season with Deke

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels shows how and why you need to reinforce retrieving, even indoors this spring and summer. Deke the DU dog retrieves hats, gloves and a cooler in this segment.

Retrievers: Hazards Afield

During the late season, protect your retriever by teaching him to be aware of likely hazards.

Retriever Training: Working an Elevated Stand

Mike Stewart, Wildrose Kennels, uses Deke the DU Dog, to explain how to train your retriever on an elevated stand.

Retriever Training: Facing Distractions

Mike Stewart, Wildrose Kennels, explains how to keep your retriever's focus when facing distractions in the field. This training techinque is something that can be done any time of year and in any situation.

Retriever Training: Working a Lower Stand

Mike Stewart, Wildrose Kennels, explains how to get your retriever ready to hunt a dog stand, beginning with a lower-level stand.

Retriever Gear: Canine First Aid Kit

A canine first aid kit could be the difference in saving your retriever's life.

Retriever Training: Steadiness

Mike Stewart with Deke, the DU Dog explains an enjoyable way to teach steadiness.

Preseason Retriever Conditioning Tips

Even with opening day fast approaching, it's not too late to get your dog in top shape

Introduction to Dog Blinds

Mike Stewart explains how introducing your retriever to a dog blind, like the GHG Ground Force dog blind, early in the season will help avoid confusion during a hunt.

Video Tip: Training in the Heat

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels explains a few precautions to take when working with your retriever on hot summer days.

Retrievers: Healthy Choices

Developing a sensible routine will help keep your retriever in top condition

Retrievers: All in Good Time

Chris Akin of Webb Footed Kennels explains that patience is key a virtue when training a young dog.

Photo Essay: Retrievers

A photographic tribute to our favorite hunting companions from the 2013-2014 waterfowl season

Picking the Right Retriever

Retrievers come in all shapes and sizes. Temperament and trainability also vary from breed to breed. Think about your lifestyle, and exactly what you are looking for in a retriever, before taking the plunge and purchasing a waterfowl-hunting dog. This simple exercise could save you considerable anxiety later on.

Dangers of Dogs and Ice

Having your retriever prepared for icy hunting conditions will help you and your dog avoid the dangers of ice.

Fetching Divers on Big Water

Diving ducks are incredibly tough birds. This is when a retriever is an invaluable asset.

Kennel Training a Retriever

Conditioning a retriever to use a crate is essential for its comfort and safety

Patch Up Your Pooch

For immediate first aid in the field, it's a good idea to have a Dog First Aid Kit. Here's a list of items to keep in your kit.

Retriever Training

Tips, tactics, video and more from expert dog trainers. Your ultimate resource for retriever training tips.

A Lesson in Limber Tail

Most of the time, hunters can tell when their dog needs to stop, but this troublesome condition seems to show no signs in the field. Learn more about limber tail.

Air Travel With Your Retriever

For any hunter traveling to hunt this season, it's important to be prepared for airline travel with waterfowl dogs. Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels shares essentials tips for making sure you and your dog make it to your favorite hunting destination this season.

Dual-Purpose Dogs

Training your dog to be versatile in any hunting situation can be a valuable asset.

Building a Dog Kennel

The devil is in the details when planning this canine construction project.

7 Retriever Training Secrets

Follow these tips from five expert trainers to help your dog reach its full potential in the field.

Retriever Training Video Tips

Mike Stewart, owner of Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, demonstrates retriever training tips in this video series starring Deke the DU Dog.

River Dogs

Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels outlines advice for developing and training your river-hunting retriever.

Summer Drills for Retrievers

The months leading up to opening day provide time to hone your retriever's skills. Gary Koehler provides diagrams and tips for summertime training drills for your retriever.

Overcoming a Fear of Gunfire

Experienced retriever trainers recognize gun-shyness as one of the most difficult behavioral problems to correct. They will also tell you that in most cases it can be avoided by using common sense.

Duck Dogs and Doves

Warm weather requires handlers to use common sense when dove hunting with their retrievers.

Retriever Olympics

Field trials and hunt tests have much to offer waterfowlers and their dogs.

Breaking Bad Behavior

Here’s what to do if your retriever won’t stop whining or can’t sit still in the duck blind.

Deke the DU Dog's First Retrieve

Deke the DU Dog's first retrieve at Wildrose Kennels is documented as a part of DU history.

Goose Dogs

Prepare your retriever for the special challenges of goose hunting.

New DU Dog Has a Name!

Offiicial announcement of the new DU dog's name: Deke, chosen from 3,500 submissions.

Top Dogs

Gundog authorities explore the qualities that define greatness in a retriever.

Toughest Retrieves

Prepare your dog for waterfowl hunting’s most challenging retrieves.

All in a Day's Work

Dogs that hunt for professional guides may retrieve more birds in a single season than most dogs do in a lifetime.

Retriever Obedience & Steadiness Drills

Simple obedience and steadiness drills will help keep your dog safe and inconspicuous during a hunt.

Four Common Problems and Solutions in Dog Training

These four tips will help your dog overcome common problems during training.

Canine Encounters of the Wrong Kind

What to do if your dog gets sprayed, quilled or bitten

Adding Polish and Style

Instilling confidence in your dog during training will result in top performance in the field.

The Essential Golden Retriever

Whether in the duck blind, field-trialing, or competing in hunt tests, this breed is more than capable of holding its own

Better Blind Retrieves

One trainer insists that straight lines are essential

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