Preparing Your Puppy for Retriever School

By Jenna Taylor

Photos by Hunter Forbes


So, i’m a new dog mom.


Hunter and I picked him up in April of this year in hopes of training him to retrieve ducks, trail blood (for deer), and shed hunt. You’re probably thinking we have high hopes, right?


Well, we do. We picked up our little black lab, Bay, from River Bottom Retrievers in Orange Beach, Alabama and plan to drop him back off for training when he hits his six-month mark. Although he is going to get trained, there are still numerous things that you must do with your pup to ensure that he is ready for hunting school.


Believe it or not, I’ve known many people who have had their dogs denied because they lacked obedience or drive.



When you bring your dog to school, he should at least know the basics—being potty trained and kennel trained, heel, sit and stay, lay down and come. Without these basics, it’s difficult for the trainer to begin working with your dog on retrieving.



Keeping your pup on a schedule walking and running is of the utmost importance. Walking your dog on a leash—preferably a choke collar—is the best way to teach the commands “come” and “here.” When they stray away from you, the collar will choke them, and they will naturally want to release that tension. Show them how by loosening the collar and walking alongside them.


Labrador Retrievers are especially known to have a lot of energy. As the owner, you must ensure that your dog either has a large area in which to run around or is able to get exercise daily by running.



Get your dog seasoned with retrieving an object and bringing it back to you. You can take it to the next step by telling your dog “sit,” holding your dog back while you throw the object and let him retrieve the object when you point your arm and say “back.” Always have treats, and praise your dog when he does it right.



Get your dog used to being in the water—a pool, the bay, a lake, etc. It came easy with Bay, as he gets in the pool every time he heads out the door. We have a water bug on our hands. Along with getting him used to the water, get a floating retriever dummy and have him fetch the object in the water.


Here’s another tip. Instead of purchasing treats, just get a Ziploc and fill it with a handful of dog food. This is healthier for your dog and much less expensive.

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