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Gun Dog Program


This is by far my most popular program we offer! This program is completed in a four to five month time frame. Customer’s busy lives typically require them to look for help in training their gun dog and this is where I come in. Hope Retrievers offers a variety of in-kennel training programs whereby we board, feed, and train your dog to the desired level of performance you seek for your hunting companion. Dogs are required to be 6 months of age or older to start this program.

The beginning month of this program is designed to provide the owner with a retriever that is obedient, steady to shot, and reliably retrieves/delivers the birds to hand under a variety of hunting situations. I start the first month with marking as my number one goal. I want a happy and eager retriever. I want to build up as much drive as possible. After the first week or two depending on the dog I have started the beginning phases of my obedience program. Your dog will be introduced to four commands: Sit, Heel, Here, and Place. I train your retriever on a leash and then transition to off-leash obedience on an electronic collar. Obedience is the foundation of a good retriever and a high priority is placed on this stage of training. I also introduce and expose your dog to birds (ducks and pigeons), gunfire, and swimming. I want to encourage the desire to retrieve with lots of fun bumpers. This process takes approximately one month, but can vary from dog to dog.

Next, I teach your retriever about gunner thrown marks. After properly introduced to the gunner thrown marks I can start to stretching your dog out to greater distances and add variables to the retrieve. Your dog will learn how to hunt in cover and retrieve at longer distances. Towards the end of this program your dog will be completely off lead on all obedience commands. No more pulling on lead! No jumping! I will start introducing your pup to the “Hold” command. This will teach your dog how to properly hold, drop, and fetch bumpers/birds on command. This process is important because it teaches the dog how to heel and deliver the birds to hand, and avoid problems such as playing, eating, or mouthing the birds. This process takes approximately one month, but can vary from dog to dog.

In the third month, I focus on “Steady” work. I combine the training that your dog has learned in the first two months and apply it to a basic retrieve in the field, but add the gun. “Fetch” will be added to commands that your retriever will know. Your retriever should be completely “steady” to shot and wait to be sent for the retrieve. Your retriever will know how to hunt and reliably return your game to hand.

Once your dog understands the process of a basic retrieve, then I try to help familiarize your retriever to a variety of hunting scenarios. From dove hunting on a bucket next to a corn field, duck hunting in a blind over a big spread of decoys, to putting your pup in a boat. My goal is to expose your retriever to every hunting scenario imaginable. My goal in this stage is to try and familiarize your retriever with as many different set-ups as possible so that he or she can be comfortable in any setting that you might choose to hunt your dog in. This process takes approximately one month, but can vary from dog to dog. After completion of the Basic Gundog Program your dog will be prepared to run the basic level hunt test program for both AKC (Junior) and HRC (Started).


Requirements: Any Retriever 6 months of age or older are welcome to give this program a try.