The Sporting Group is composed of workers, so why don’t more of us work our show dogs? We spend many weekends during the year attending dog shows, but never seem to find enough time to field train our Labrador Retrievers. It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too windy, I don’t like carrying a shotgun, I don’t like handling dead birds, you want me to walk way out there? Once you start field training, no matter what level of expertise you strive for, it’s such fun that you won’t even notice the weather, and the walk will be therapeutic.
If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on an exciting day that will find you thrilled at discovering your dog’s natural abilities of scent, marking, and courage. His exposure to field training will give him confidence, stamina, and the physical development that may enhance his movement in the ring. It will not negatively alter his behaviour as a show dog.
There are many levels of field training and many clubs to join to start you on your way. Puppy stakes are casual events that give newcomers a chance to experience some of the basic skills required at the retriever trials. Tests are designed to demonstrate a dog’s basic retrieving instincts on land and water, with opportunities to retrieve freshly killed flyers. It can be a great day for puppy socializing, family picnics, and learning opportunities. One or two days a week of training for a few months should be enough to attain this level, and by then you’ll know if you want to go further.
Or if your dog is already too old for puppy trials ,Try training for a FQ (Field Qualifying Certificate) at a Field Qualifying Stake first. The test requires a dog to retrieve fur and feather, and to enter water.The tests consists of , one shot pigeon to fall 75m in medium/light cover-one dog in line walkup, a blind (saluted rabbit) 40m in medium/heavy cover, a saluted duck 35m from shoreline into water, a double (two saluted pigeons) in light cover 90 degrees apart at 45m.
Your next step should be to join a retriever training group. There you’ll find not only Labradors but also Goldens. Most importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to meet experienced amateur trainers who will help you teach your dog while you learn the nuances of field training. Take advantage of your dog’s natural retrieving abilities. Let him show you what a day outside with birds, blinds, and duck calls can do for you.
You’ll find it’s a great adventure for both of you.