The success of a retriever depends largely on its beginning. How well is pup socialized to loud noises? How many times has pup had something thrown for it to chase? How many times has pup seen or even smelled real birds? All of these factors play a huge part in determining how fast and/or smooth a pup moves through becoming a gun dog. Bringing your puppy in for a jump start on these things is highly recommended as pup needs to see and hear theses things earlier than commonly thought. In a puppy session we will go over how to properly socialize your puppy to decoys, birds, boats, gunfire and other factors that are imperative for having a successful hunting or hunt testing/field trial dog.
From puppy stage we transition into obedience and force fetching, and then into applying all of this to field for the beginner gun dog. More socialization to birds, water, decoys, boats, and gunfire. During force fetch your dog is taught to fetch, hold the bird while returning to you, and deliver the bird or object to hand. As a novice gun dog your dog will also be steady to gunfire, and able to retrieve single birds on land and water.
Moving forward from novice to seasoned means beginning to retrieve multiple birds on land and water, and at further distances. This is also when they are taught to run blind retrieves using a whistle to stop, and hand signals to direct him/her to a downed bird. A seasoned dog will run blinds fairly well, allowing the handler to pick up birds without leaving the blind, and pick up birds that are shot down up to around 100 yards. This is the beginning of becoming more than the average dog you see in the field, and becoming a great hunting companion.
At this point your dog is becoming a hunting machine. Finished gun dog work entails being able to retrieve multiple downed birds at even further yardages on land and water, usually out to around 150 yards. The finished dog will also run blind retrieves smoothly and without problem no matter the terrain, on land and water, and honor other working dogs that are retrieving birds during the hunt or training. When this level of work is accomplished your dog is working at the finished or master level. This is now a dog that can go hunt anywhere in or out of a boat, stand, etc. If you want a smooth hunting machine, I will be glad to answer any questions you have about what it takes to get to this level.