Many of today’s Labrador owners don’t tap into the working and sporting sides of their dogs. But once you start exploring your Labrador Retriever’s capabilities, all sorts of possibilities open up.
The number one job of a Labrador Retriever in a working situation is to retrieve game. The great thing about Labs is that they won’t ever let you leave any hunted game behind. They also get the job done quickly and cleanly. And, most importantly, who wouldn’t want to have a furry, loyal companion by their side, on a hunting trip.
Which dogs can be Retrievers?
Many different dog breeds can be trained as retrievers. However, Labrador Retrievers are considered by many to be the best. And even though all Labradors are retrievers by birth, we recommend using a breeder that specializes in working group Labradors and gundogs.
How to start training a working Labrador Retriever
Turning your Lab into a gundog isn’t very difficult. However, before they begin gundog training they should have all of the basic commands memorized.
If you’ve never trained a gundog before or don’t want to take it on alone, consider joining a gundog club. Most clubs have classes that help both you and your Labrador get ready. Some clubs even have expert trainers to help you along. Clubs like this are all over the U.S. and UK so finding one isn’t a problem.
The training is divided up into grades. As your Labrador Retriever advances through these grades they will become eligible for more and more events.
Types of shooting
Shooting games are very popular. During the winter months shooting games are held all over the country. The two main types of games are “driven games” which are more professional and “rough games” which are more informal.
Driven games are professionally arranged and have lots of officials. However, small organizations still have a say in how these games are arranged. And, you guessed it, the most popular dogs at these games are Labrador Retrievers.
Rough games are events where friends and their dogs get together for a hunt. In the U.S, rough games are called upland hunting. Labrador Retrievers are used to flush out the game and retrieve it after it’s been shot.
Shooting games are best enjoyed with friends. So before you go to an event, it would help to make some contacts in the community. This is relatively easy if you’re interested in getting to know the sport.
Whenever you’re shooting, safety is the number one thing. And since your Labrador is going to be with you, you need to make sure he or she is ready. If they aren’t ready, they may chase the game before it’s time or run away at the sound of the gun. That’s why you need to prepare them well in advance. We suggest training your Lab in the off season so that they’re in tip-top shape when it’s time to hunt.
You need to look the part. Shades of green and brown are the usual choice for shooting games. However, almost any dark or camouflage colors will work. Brightly colored outfits aren’t recommended.
Your dog’s behavior will reflect on you. In fact it plays a major role in whether you get invited back or not. If your Lab doesn’t follow the instructions of the shooting manager or keeper, it will be your last event with the club.
Be patient. Remember, you’re going into something brand new so don’t expect to be an expert the first time. Just focus on following all of the rules and making a good impression. That way you’ll almost certainly be invited back.
My dog friends seem to understand my limitations and always keep close beside me whan I am alone. I love their affectionate ways and the eloquent wag of their tails. – Helen Keller