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Retriever Training


Basic Retriever Training

*6 month minimum training contract required. Dog must be at least 6 months old to participate.


This is the most important part of retriever training and is the foundation of all retriever training to come. Our basic retriever training program consists of basic obedience on and off-leash, whistle commands, collar conditioning, force fetch (hold, fetch, and drop), and basic marking concepts on land and water. Your dog will be introduced to gunshots, decoys, live birds, dog blinds and stands, and a variety of hunting settings.


When a dog completes our basic retriever training program, it will be obedient to verbal and whistle commands, deliver birds to hand and be retrieving out to 100 yards or more on single marked retrieves, on land and in water. They also will be reasonably steady to shot. 

Most dogs are also beginning to learn the basics of a blind retrieve by using hand and whistle signals. 

At the completion of our basic retriever program, your dog should be capable of handling basic hunting situations, and successfully compete in HRC Started and AKC Junior level hunt tests.


If you wish to pursue more advanced training, the foundations are in place to move to the next level.

Advanced Retriever Training

Once a dog has completed the basic retriever training program, they may move on to more advanced training concepts. Whether you just want your dog to run simple blinds, or are looking for a fully-"finished" dog, Waterfowl Widowmakers has a program to meet your needs. It is important to remember that much like people, dogs learn at different paces, and actual training time will vary depending on your dog's natural ability and maturity level.  

Transition Retriever Training

Our transition retriever program is for dogs that have completed the basic retriever program. It normally takes a 4 to 6 month period to make it through transition. It is important to remember that much like people, dogs learn at different paces, and actual training time will vary depending on your dog's natural ability and maturity level.  

During transition, your dog will learn a variety of new concepts and strengthen ones that they have already learned. Dogs in the transition retriever program will learn 3-handed casting, remote sit, and be forced to the pile. A variety of complex drills are used during this time to teach your dog the skills of running blind retrieves on both land and water.  Your dog will be introduced to difficult marking scenarios as well. Your dog will also learn the concepts of honoring, diversion birds, and walk-ups.


When your dog completes our transition retriever program, it will be able to complete difficult multiple marking concepts, will handle smoothly, be steady, and honor another dog's work. Your dog will be able to handle most situations that may arise in an average days hunt and will have the skills necessary to compete in Seasoned and Senior level hunt tests.

Finished Retriever Training

Our finished retriever program includes perfected handling, literal casting, carrying a straight line, land and water triples and quads, and how to fight the factors. During the finished program, your dog will learn advanced marking concepts and advanced blind retrieves, with emphasis on precise marking, handling and straight lines through cover, difficult terrain and water. Hunting scenarios will include exposure to poison birds, blinds under the arc, inline marks, etc. By this point in the program your dog will be retrieving multiple marks over 250 yards and running blinds in excess of 300 yards.


When your dog completes this program, it will be prepared to compete in Finished and Master level hunt tests.

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