Group Therapy

| June 5, 2011 | 0 Comments
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A Hunt Training Group Discussing A Mark

A Hunt Training Group Discussing A Mark


An African proverb says “it takes a village to raise a child”. Developing a great hunting retriever can be done alone and, in some cases, may be more efficient; however, like my retrievers, I am a pack animal that enjoys the interaction and camaraderie of my fellow retriever lovers. Books, DVDs, and TV shows can take you a long way down the path to training a great retriever, but finding a group of like-minded individuals can take you to the next level much quicker. Retriever hunt training groups can be a great way to take your retriever from a wiggly puppy all the way to the highest levels of both hunting and hunt games (hunt tests and field trials).

How To Find A Hunt Training Group

One of the best ways to find a retriever hunt training group is to get involved with your local breed club or even better a local retriever club. I am lucky because, as a Labrador Retriever owner, we have an abundance of AKC Labrador breed clubs across the US. I am an active member in the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club which has connected me with some great folks to help me train my dogs. I also recently joined the Rainier Hunting Retriever Club which is a great club to meet folks that are serious about training their dogs for hunting, hunt tests, and field trials. The next step is to get involved with the club. Volunteer to help out with hunt tests, field trials, or other events. These clubs are always looking for volunteers to help make their events a success. Getting involved in club activities will provide you with excellent opportunities to meet folks and find out who has regular hunt training groups.

Choosing A Hunt Training Group

As far as choosing a group, I would always recommend choosing folks that are more experienced trainers then you. Having a group where everyone is trying to figure retriever hunt training out is going to be tough, although not impossible. I always look for the most knowledgeable people I can find to help me with training my Labradors. I look for a well established training group that has the necessary equipment (wingers, bumpers, etc.) and, most importantly, a group that I have a good chemistry with in terms of training philosophies and personalities. Remember, this is what we do for fun! So make sure you are with a group that keeps it fun for you and your retriever.

Some retriever hunt training groups are run by professionals. These are an excellent option but you generally have to pay to join these groups and oftentimes they are closed to new members. The upside is that the professional makes a living training retrievers so, at least theoretically, they have seen just about any challenge we might encounter in training. Other retriever hunt training groups are made up of serious amateurs that do it for the love of training their dogs. I am currently working my way into one of those groups. The folks in this group all train at the AKC Master Hunter level as well as run AKC field trials. Although I am not at that level with any of my dogs yet, I feel I am working with folks who are interested in seeing me succeed with my dogs. I make sure to earn my keep by manning the wingers, helping set up and tear down marks, etc. This not only helps me learn more about the setting up and executing a good run, but also gives me an appreciation for the hard work and dedication it takes to train and run tests.

Advantages Of A Hunt Training Group

  • Meet new people who love retrievers
  • Spread cost of gear across the group (wingers are expensive!)
  • Learn by watching others handle their dogs
  • Learn from more experienced handlers
  • Get more done with limited time

Disadvantages Of A Hunt Training Group

  • If the group is too big, training is more limited
  • Potential personality/training philosophy conflicts
  • Tied to the group’s schedule – less flexibility

Now What?

So where to begin? There are books and DVDs galore out there to help you get started and there are a lot of reasons to use these critical resources to help lay the foundation for training your retriever and building your knowledge. Contact your local hunting retriever or breed club and get involved. Please feel free to recommend clubs in the comments section below. Set realistic goals for you and your retriever and go have some fun!


Category : Training Tips

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

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