Griffin Returns to Hunting Training

Photo by MN

Last fall we attempted a retriever certificate test. We didn’t pass -but it really truly seemed like bad luck vs a specific training challenge. He did really well despite having very little training for that type of event and it seemed like it might be realistic to do AKC style hunt tests with him.

So of course we waited 6 months before our next training session.  We went with a training friend to take a lesson from someone semi-local who has a lot of experience with the tests.   As I’m so new to this and reading the rules only gives me a vague idea of what to expect, I mostly went with it, modifying things slightly as needed but mostly just seeing what happened with our current training.


  • Griffin was eager to retrieve birds even though that’s new to him.
  • He is not afraid of gunfire.
  • He likes gunfire possibly too much.  He heard neighbors off in the distance shooting and wanted to run to them and look for birds. He’s only had one training session previously where gunfire = birds and then he heard it at the test last fall.  And apparently that was all it took to create a strong, strong association.
  • His recall was not great. He didn’t run away by any means, but he wasn’t always as efficient coming back as he should be.  He was influenced and wanted to roll on birds. This bothered me a lot because I don’t like those behavior patterns…but surprisingly enough to me, the instructor wasn’t worried about it and said the rolling often goes away with experience. He also commented that it’s typically female goldens though, not males….
  • Apparently his ‘retrieve to hand’ is great? He had so many compliments on that it seemed almost like a joke… I was not as impressed as I know it could be ‘more perfect’.
  • Waiting is hard.  In the first level tests I can hold his collar but in higher levels that is not allowed.  He is very, very eager to go.

Hopefully we’ll be able to go again soon and find events to enter.  It’s not quite as exciting to me as some of our other games because the actual activity is a lot more one -sided than other dog activities and it’s just too much standing and watching the dog run out and back. But at the same time, it’s fun to see dogs do what they were developed for and to work towards high levels of control and precision at a distance.

We’re informally doing training to help repair some of the week areas. This week we’ve been going on more longline (for legal/safety reasons) in new areas and practicing coming back on a word and on a whistle.  We’ve practiced retrieves at greater distances and we’re doing a lot more stay practice every day.