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#7309716 - 10/09/18 02:42 PM Resources for training a bird dog
aggiehunter15 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 09/23/13
Posts: 38
Slowing beginning to put together plans to get my first post-graduation dog and am hoping to train it to retrieve birds (primarily ducks). Still 6+ months out from getting a pup but wanted to start familiarizing myself with all the details of training. I was wondering if anyone has any suggested books or sites such as Cornerstone Gundog that you'd recommend? I'm hoping to do most of the training myself and not send the dog off if possible. Thanks in advance

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#7309719 - 10/09/18 02:50 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
kdub Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 7687
Loc: In the yak
10 minute retriever )(john and amy dahl) I used it on my first dog and am currently rereading to use with my new pup.

Retriever Training by Tom Dokken is good also, I am currently going through it for the first time.

And tritronics retriever training had some really good information in it also.

There are others that I'm sure are great books but these are the 3 that I am using/have used in the past.

Good on you for doing your homework, your retriever will be better because of it.

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#7309762 - 10/09/18 03:31 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
Aggieduck Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 07/27/10
Posts: 2373
Loc: TX
Water Dog by Wolters is a simple and pretty straigt forward book. Some people love it some say its old school. I liked it because it was simple. Just train as much and as often as possible and be consistent, it will work out for the best. There is a guy on youtube for later help and progression Freddie King ive used some of his videos for help. You can also join a local hunting dog club
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#7309783 - 10/09/18 04:02 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
BuckRage Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 20834
Chris Akins has a book and/or program you can look at and some videos on YouTube
Freddie King has a meat dog series on YouTube thats great IMO (at least to get you started on basics and get an idea what you're going to get into)
I joined Freddie King The Retreiver Trainer site as well which gives you access to tons of videos and FaceBook group that helps a ton for a year. Some very knowledgeable people on there that are quick to answer. For $60 its a no brainer. I just started training myself so take this FWIW.
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#7309797 - 10/09/18 04:24 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
BradyBuck Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 6106
Loc: Abilene, TX
You'll get a lot of information but there are a lot of updated programs and material out. I'm going to send you a PM with my phone number. Give me a call and I'll help you out however I can.

The top DVDs and programs are:

Puppy:

Bill Hillmann's "Training a Retriever Puppy"
Jackie Mertens "Sound Beginnings"

Basics/Advanced

TRT2 by Mike Lardy
SmartWorks by Evan Graham
Bill Hillmann's Land and Water Fundamentals

Ive trained a few labs just winging it and they did the job but about 3 years ago I wanted to get into running tests. I joined Lonesome Dove HRC and started with a chocolate puppy from a good breeding. She obtained her HR title in straight passes and is one pass from her HRCH.

100% amateur trained by myself.

I follow Hillnann and Lardy's material.

If you really want to train your dog right I'll be more than willing to help you anyway I can.

My current pup



Edited by BradyBuck (10/09/18 04:36 PM)
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#7309915 - 10/09/18 07:19 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: Aggieduck]
Guy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 28539
Loc: Lake X
Originally Posted By: Aggieduck
Water Dog by Wolters is a simple and pretty straigt forward book. Some people love it some say its old school.

Its not old school, it is just old. Its over 50 years old. There are just much better options now, back then it was the only option.

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#7309942 - 10/09/18 07:46 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: BradyBuck]
Guy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 28539
Loc: Lake X
Originally Posted By: BradyBuck
You'll get a lot of information but there are a lot of updated programs and material out. I'm going to send you a PM with my phone number. Give me a call and I'll help you out however I can.

The top DVDs and programs are:

Puppy:

Bill Hillmann's "Training a Retriever Puppy"
Jackie Mertens "Sound Beginnings"

Basics/Advanced

TRT2 by Mike Lardy
SmartWorks by Evan Graham
Bill Hillmann's Land and Water Fundamentals

Ive trained a few labs just winging it and they did the job but about 3 years ago I wanted to get into running tests. I joined Lonesome Dove HRC and started with a chocolate puppy from a good breeding. She obtained her HR title in straight passes and is one pass from her HRCH.

100% amateur trained by myself.

I follow Hillnann and Lardy's material.

If you really want to train your dog right I'll be more than willing to help you anyway I can.

My current pup


I have all Evan Graham's DVDs, and Mike Lardy e-collor conditioning DVD (oh and I have water dog too). I really like the Make Lardy DVD. There is lots of stuff I like about Evan Graham's methods, and some I don't. I do not agree with the "pressure conditioning" he does, does not work for all dogs.

I heard great things about Hillnann, especially the puppy DVD. I would for sure get that, and start watching that. That will get you through the first 6 months and you can think more about what other training material to invest it, it is expensive.

The DVDs and books are great, it will educate you and provide a foundation, but I would combine this with pro trainer one-on-one help, or a really good armature like Bradybuck. Every dog is different, many times requires you tailor your training to the pup. I trained 2 dogs, both times I worked with a pro, to train me, tell me what I'm doing wrong, and tailor drills for my pup, especially important for e-collor conditioning and FF, you don;t want to mess that up, and you got to get it right.

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#7309959 - 10/09/18 07:57 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: Guy]
Guy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 28539
Loc: Lake X
Originally Posted By: Guy
Originally Posted By: Aggieduck
Water Dog by Wolters is a simple and pretty straigt forward book. Some people love it some say its old school.

Its not old school, it is just old. Its over 50 years old. There are just much better options now, back then it was the only option.

What I really don't like about water dog is that it does not talk about force fetch, or even the concept of force. Maybe it was not used back then, but that is a critical method this is missed in that book. People read that book and think they do not need to FF their dog.

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#7309960 - 10/09/18 07:57 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: Guy]
BradyBuck Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 6106
Loc: Abilene, TX
Originally Posted By: Guy
Originally Posted By: BradyBuck
You'll get a lot of information but there are a lot of updated programs and material out. I'm going to send you a PM with my phone number. Give me a call and I'll help you out however I can.

The top DVDs and programs are:

Puppy:

Bill Hillmann's "Training a Retriever Puppy"
Jackie Mertens "Sound Beginnings"

Basics/Advanced

TRT2 by Mike Lardy
SmartWorks by Evan Graham
Bill Hillmann's Land and Water Fundamentals

Ive trained a few labs just winging it and they did the job but about 3 years ago I wanted to get into running tests. I joined Lonesome Dove HRC and started with a chocolate puppy from a good breeding. She obtained her HR title in straight passes and is one pass from her HRCH.

100% amateur trained by myself.

I follow Hillnann and Lardy's material.

If you really want to train your dog right I'll be more than willing to help you anyway I can.

My current pup


I have all Evan Graham's DVDs, and Mike Lardy e-collor conditioning DVD (oh and I have water dog too). I really like the Make Lardy DVD. There is lots of stuff I like about Evan Graham's methods, and some I don't. I do not agree with the "pressure conditioning" he does, does not work for all dogs.

I heard great things about Hillnann, especially the puppy DVD. I would for sure get that, and start watching that. That will get you through the first 6 months and you can think more about what other training material to invest it, it is expensive.

The DVDs and books are great, it will educate you and provide a foundation, but I would combine this with pro trainer one-on-one help, or a really good armature like Bradybuck. Every dog is different, many times requires you tailor your training to the pup. I trained 2 dogs, both times I worked with a pro, to train me, tell me what I'm doing wrong, and tailor drills for my pup, especially important for e-collor conditioning and FF, you don;t want to mess that up, and you got to get it right.


Good advice. That's where joining a club helps. Typically they'll have a pro or two who can help you. I've got several on speed dial. I've also attended a couple seminars.


Edited by BradyBuck (10/09/18 07:58 PM)
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#7311404 - 10/11/18 12:30 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
Stump_jumper Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1290
Loc: Rockwall, Tx
Fresh out of college I got a golden and the dog was a pure natural. I got real lucky on that one. It was mostly a family dog but I noticed over time that she was very birdy and always chasing things. No formal training at all and started hunting at about 4. Never lost a bird with her. She would dive after wounded ducks and fetch geese that fell 300 or 400 yards out. Sat perfectly still and especially with ducks you never had to watch the sky just her. She would perk up when ducks were a good 1/4 mile out. Never had to worry about giving here a line she knew better where the bird fell than you did. I wish I could have cloned her. I have never seen a dog like her and may never again. I had a lab a few years back that was ok. Just dumb as a box of rocks. Best thing is start taking them with you when young. That is what I did with the lab and she turned in to a decent retriever even with 1/2 a brain. I read some stuff but it was just things here and there.
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#7311964 - 10/12/18 01:17 AM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
TrackQuack Online   content
Bird Dog

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 489
Determine what capabilities you want your dog to have as well as their natural tendencies before choosing a program. As you can see everyone has their own opinion of what works best. I couldn't disagree more with Guy's comment on FF, definitely not a must have. Also, some people intend not to use a collar and the dogs personality can play a big role as well.

Regardless of all the training programs and opinions we all have, the foundation is basic obedience. If your dog can sit, stay, place, come, and heel on first command under any situation and distance you will be ahead of 75% of people.

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#7312161 - 10/12/18 08:59 AM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: TrackQuack]
Guy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 28539
Loc: Lake X
Originally Posted By: TrackQuack
I couldn't disagree more with Guy's comment on FF, definitely not a must have.

98% of the people that say you donít need to force your dog donít understand it. Yeah you donít have to do it, but your dogís performance and reliability will be greatly improved with it. Without it, your dog only knows positive reinforcement. Itís important that your dog also knows negative reinforcement, and teaching them the concept that they are in control, and they can avoid the negative consequence by performing the known command quickly and swiftly. When they grasp this concept, the results are amazing.

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#7312180 - 10/12/18 09:20 AM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
BradyBuck Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 6106
Loc: Abilene, TX
When done properly there are absolutely 0 reasons not to FF or CC any dog no matter their demeanor.


Edited by BradyBuck (10/12/18 09:38 AM)
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#7312706 - 10/12/18 08:03 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: aggiehunter15]
bobcat1 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 07/22/07
Posts: 3416
Loc: Sanger, Texas
Originally Posted By: BradyBuck
When done properly there are absolutely 0 reasons not to FF or CC any dog no matter their demeanor.
I agree almost completely. When the dog refuses to fetch you then you have that "I wish I had done that" thought. Force Fetch is necessary unless it is okay with you for your dog to retrieve when it wants to.

With that being said I have not had to force fetch my 3.5 year old Cocker Spaniel male Buster but he has and is being trained by me to do multiple retrieves with me throwing multiple objects at the same time and he has never refused to go get each and every one and deliver them to hand. He does directional searching and sits by hand signal waiting to be sent in another direction. He knows when he does the deal he gets his ball. That is his positive reward. He is an exception to the rule from all the dogs I have had in the past. If he ever refuses he too will be force fetched. I don't think that will happen. He has been retrieving to hand since he was 8 weeks old. We practice 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. He still wants to keep going but I stop and keep him wanting it.

Now my female Cocker Spaniel Missy will be force fetched without question. She will be 2 in January. She is very fast and loves to retrieve. She goes and gets anything I throw but will not hold until told to give. She drops it at my feet or somewhere in my vicinity. Not good enough for me. So force fetch is in her future.
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#7312835 - 10/12/18 10:24 PM Re: Resources for training a bird dog [Re: bobcat1]
BradyBuck Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 6106
Loc: Abilene, TX

Originally Posted By: bobcat1
Originally Posted By: BradyBuck
When done properly there are absolutely 0 reasons not to FF or CC any dog no matter their demeanor.
I agree almost completely. When the dog refuses to fetch you then you have that "I wish I had done that" thought. Force Fetch is necessary unless it is okay with you for your dog to retrieve when it wants to.

With that being said I have not had to force fetch my 3.5 year old Cocker Spaniel male Buster but he has and is being trained by me to do multiple retrieves with me throwing multiple objects at the same time and he has never refused to go get each and every one and deliver them to hand. He does directional searching and sits by hand signal waiting to be sent in another direction. He knows when he does the deal he gets his ball. That is his positive reward. He is an exception to the rule from all the dogs I have had in the past. If he ever refuses he too will be force fetched. I don't think that will happen. He has been retrieving to hand since he was 8 weeks old. We practice 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. He still wants to keep going but I stop and keep him wanting it.

Now my female Cocker Spaniel Missy will be force fetched without question. She will be 2 in January. She is very fast and loves to retrieve. She goes and gets anything I throw but will not hold until told to give. She drops it at my feet or somewhere in my vicinity. Not good enough for me. So force fetch is in her future.


I agree that FF isn't always necessary for a gun dog. That pup in the videos never showed me any signs that she would ever even think about not retrieving. Loves birds, loves retrieving and had an excellent hold before I FFed her.

She would have made a fine hunting dog for anyone but when you get involved in competitive events the training is pushed to another level. The fact that I see no negatives if done properly is why I'll FF every dog I own.


Edited by BradyBuck (10/12/18 10:25 PM)
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