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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to train my new pup to hunt duck and love the idea of competing with him but have only a small amount of experience in field training. I've mostly been working with him on basic obedience and socialization along with a couple games that I hope will nurture certain hunting skills (his favorite game is when I fill the giant tub and drop items that he must dive after to retrieve though he's big enough now that he can pretty much just stand there and dunk his head under to pick the items up.) He's only a bit over 3 months old but has good prey drive, a soft mouth, loves to retrieve, is eager to learn, and only had to be made to wait twice before he understood not to break for a retrieve before I send him. He even seems to point which I haven't really seen before from a Golden puppy (at least not so pronounced) but for my purposes I don't think that will be very important.

Even given a puppy with what I suspect (and hope) has an aptitude for hunting I'm pretty much a complete rookie to field training (not to mention it's been a long time since I've had a puppy.) I grew up with Goldens and while we duck hunted with our dogs I wasn't very involved in that part of their training. I've been researching but would like some input specifically from Golden owners with successful hunting dogs or from any trainers, especially regarding gentle methods for conditioned retrieve (force fetch) training methods or alternatives that ensure delivery to hand and what we should be working on at this time or at other points (any particular order/approximate timelines, etc.) As a side note I live in Minnesota so there will be a good span of time where our lakes will be frozen over.

I appreciate the time it took to read what managed to become a short novel and I'd love any insight that any and everyone would be willing to offer.
 

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I'm by no means experienced at training, let me start there. My husband and son work our dogs, but I do help in the puppy stages with the basics. Our six month old left a few weeks ago to go to a pro trainer, but we do a ton of stuff prior to that happening. We don't do the force fetch, our trainer does that, but with our new little guy he had it within two days of being at the trainer. We work a lot on basic obedience, being two sided with here, heal, sit. We play with bumpers not so much worrying at that stage about delivery to hand. We swim and start water work as much as the weather allows for, just basic throwing the bumper in the water and trying to get him lined up straight for the retrieve. It's to cold here for that now. We do whistle calls with here back and forth between the two of us, backing up further and further. It's all done to be fun at this point. We wait until 6 months to do force fetch because our trainer wants all their adult teeth in.

I would suggest Jackie Mertens Sound Beginnings DVD and Mike Lardy DVD's as something to watch and learn from. We have never entered the Field Trial World, only hunt. Our guys hunt duck and geese primarily and love it. My husband is thinking of going further with our puppy, Giz-Moe, then we have in the past. Our youngest is in college so we have a little more time. I only wish we could achieve it with out sending them to the trainer. I miss him terribly, but I've seen what it produces and Duke, our 8 year old, is the best dog I've ever owned. I do know that the first thing the trainer did at 6 months was force fetch, and now on week two they are working on pile retrieves. Apparently our little guy is being a Rockstar in a group of labs.

There are many others on here with more advice then I can offer. I'm just the "Mom".
 

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Boondocks,
Welcome to the world of field training your Golden Retriever!
Let me first suggest that you peruse the website of the Golden Retriever Club of America [ https://www.grca.org/ ;look under the "Events" heading, where you will find Field Events/Field Training ... lots of articles and other information. There is also a list of people and clubs that welcome newcomers [ https://www.grca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Field-Network-List-3-16-2017.pdf ].
If you join the GRCA, you will receive the spectacular bi-monthly magazine, GRNews, which typically contains a number of training articles as well.
As DblTrblGolden2 recommended, Sound Beginnings is a great DVD for puppy training.
FTGoldens
 

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Jay S.
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Mike Lardy's Total Retriever Training is a great source. The video is not great quality but the methods are time tested. Also, up in your area(MN) is Tom Dokken. He also has some videos and books out that are very well done. Tom is more on the gun dog side where Mike is field trial.

https://www.dokkensoakridgekennels.com/
https://www.deadfowltrainer.com/innovation/

Total Retriever Training with Mike Lardy

Lastly, I recommend finding a local retriever club where others can help you through the process, provide training days, resources, etc...

Welcome to Hunting Retriever Club, Inc.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thank you for the input and the links. I have come across the names of Jackie Mertens, Mike Lardy, and Tom Dokken are all names I've come across several times through my research so I'm definitely going to check them out. I'm also very interested in taking Hunt Test classes so the link to different field training specific resources was great. One thing that has struck me in the reading I've done is that a lot of the sources refer specifically to training labs or just dogs in general and while there are similarities in training different kinds of Retrievers, training dogs in general, and even in training any animal there are also differences. As I see it the overall best practice for training will have some differences (however small or large) between breeds and of course different training needs for each individual dog or animal. I'm trying to hone in on something past the one size fits all approach. Universal concepts are great when they're truly universal or when the "ifs," "ands," and "buts" are understood but otherwise they can result in misjudgements that result in steps back rather than forward which I'm hoping to avoid as much as possible.
I'm more than willing to put the time and work in to get where I wan and being a research glutton I want to read as much as possible and talk to as many people and hear as many stories as I can; especially from people who tried different methods, have experience with various methods, or came across obstacles they had to work around or through.
 

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aka Shelby
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please don't go into training thinking that you might need to train a golden differently than a lab. Go into it as training a retriever and then make adjustments along the way. If one goes into training thinking they have to train a golden differently right from the start they are going to have a lesser dog. Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
For clarification I've trained both Golden Retrievers and Labs for obedience in my younger years so dog training is not some concept I'm completely foreign to. In my experience there are definite trends that vary between Labs and Goldens. I fail to understand how recognizing that two breeds may tend to have certain differences would result in a lesser dog. Similarly if you were attempting to use a particular method to train an individual dog that had worked on another dog of the same breed but was not working for the particular dog in question it would be wise to look into other methods. I would simply like to glean as much information as possible so that I can make judgments and adjustments as the need arises rather than walking down that path choosing to ignore certain truths and being dumbfounded if and when I stumble into one. Maybe what I wrote previously was misunderstood: in no way do I feel Golden Retrievers are a less capable hunting dog than Labs or vice-versa. They're both incredible dogs capable of becoming top of the line duck dogs when they have the right genetics and training.
 

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aka Shelby
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glad you don't feel that goldens need a different type of training. I couldn't tell by your earlier post. I've seen too many people do that in the field world and it just doesn't result in good things. Personally, I think "generally" goldens can be way more strong willed and jerky in the field than labs. I've seen a lot of people get a golden and then baby them thinking they are softer.
 

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Jamie
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In my experience there are definite trends that vary between Labs and Goldens.
Some of us have fallen in the trap that Shelby mentioned and we baby our Goldens at first thinking they are softer and need a little something extra compared to labs. I blame it on those sweet faces. When in reality they are making a fool out of you (speaking from experience). Hold them to the same high standard of training that those lab owners do.

There are lots of great retriever clubs to join, if you say where you are in MN I could point you in the right direction. I'm in SD so I'm pretty familiar with MN trainers. There is nothing wrong with taking a modified approach to training, its just going to take you much longer and you won't have as much consistency than if you just force fetched the dog at the appropriate age.

As for training materials, I bought Sound Beginnings. Then switched to Fowl Dawgs when the pup was ready to forced fetched. I also bought Lardy's retriever training journals for reference. Fowl Dawgs is a lot cheaper than Lardy's DVDs and he's actually a MN trainer.
 

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I'd like to train my new pup to hunt duck and love the idea of competing with him but have only a small amount of experience in field training. I've mostly been working with him on basic obedience and socialization along with a couple games that I hope will nurture certain hunting skills (his favorite game is when I fill the giant tub and drop items that he must dive after to retrieve though he's big enough now that he can pretty much just stand there and dunk his head under to pick the items up.) He's only a bit over 3 months old but has good prey drive, a soft mouth, loves to retrieve, is eager to learn, and only had to be made to wait twice before he understood not to break for a retrieve before I send him. He even seems to point which I haven't really seen before from a Golden puppy (at least not so pronounced) but for my purposes I don't think that will be very important.

Even given a puppy with what I suspect (and hope) has an aptitude for hunting I'm pretty much a complete rookie to field training (not to mention it's been a long time since I've had a puppy.) I grew up with Goldens and while we duck hunted with our dogs I wasn't very involved in that part of their training. I've been researching but would like some input specifically from Golden owners with successful hunting dogs or from any trainers, especially regarding gentle methods for conditioned retrieve (force fetch) training methods or alternatives that ensure delivery to hand and what we should be working on at this time or at other points (any particular order/approximate timelines, etc.) As a side note I live in Minnesota so there will be a good span of time where our lakes will be frozen over.

I appreciate the time it took to read what managed to become a short novel and I'd love any insight that any and everyone would be willing to offer.
You’re in the center of a great place for retriever training. Lots of great clubs and pro trainers. If you can, try day training with a pro. Meaning the pro trains you to train your dog. It’s a great way to learn. Something to take advantage of if you can. Many people like me live in places without pros. Take advantage of what you have. Let us know where you are in MN, and we can point you in the direction of some really good pros.

On another note, have you asked the breeder of your pup where they train their dogs? They might have good insight for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I live about 10 minutes east of Saint Paul. FTGoldens posted a link to a field network list that was very helpful. I found a club that's not too far (Northern Flight Hunting Retriever Association) that sounds like they work with both the owners and dogs which seems like a great experience. Day training with a pro sounds like exactly what I'm looking for if it's something I'm able to afford (I get that services from professional trainers isn't something any good trainer can just gives away but I definitely have a budget.) As I've said before though I do have the time and desire to learn and work with my dog. Sadly Boone is just coming up on being 4 months old and is starting to teethe like mad so some training will need to wait a bit but I'm hoping he'll get his adult chompers quickly since I will have a lot more extra time than usual from December up until some time in March and I think it would be a good opportunity to dedicate that extra time work with him. On the bright side I've never met a dog that had too much obedience training so until all his permanent teeth are in this will be a good opportunity for more obedience work.

Back on a subject from earlier in this thread I don't think soft (though it definitely is sometimes the case) is the word I'd use to describe the differences I tend to notice in Goldens vs. Labs. In those cases I think sensitive and often dramatic would usually be a more accurate description but approaching the training of a dog thinking that they need to be mollycoddled will increase the likelihood that the dog runs the trainer rather than the trainer running the dog, especially in the case of a more intelligent dog. In my opinion the case of a Golden who is too smart for their own good (or sometimes for the trainer's own good) seems to be a more frequent and problematic issue than simply having a "soft" Golden.
 

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Hi there,

I live just outside the cities, and I’m pretty familiar with all things field around here. Feel free to reach out with any questions or let me know if I can point you in the right direction.
 
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