How Old Should My Dog Be To Go Hunting?

May 17, 2023

Is there a minimum age?

As you can imagine anyone would answer this question, its different for every dog! Some hunting dogs mature much sooner than others, while some retrievers take a long time to mature. When it comes to a minimum age for hunting, there is no exact answer. The answer for each dog will come with a better understanding of their growth and maturity, retriever training experience, and the expectations of the first hunt.

What Should My Dog Know Before We Go Hunting?

It is easier to know the exact skills that your dog needs to go duck hunting than it is to know the age he should go. We break these skills into two categories, obedience skills and gundog skills. Gundogs do not have to be "fully trained" in order to go hunting, but they do need to have some basic hunting skills.

For the obedience skills, a retriever needs to sit and be steady, know how to place and heel, and have as solid recall. These skills need to be fluent for the dog. In other words, you need to have...

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Avoid Being Embarrassed by Your Gundog

Apr 16, 2023

My Dog's First Hunt Was Not The Experience I Was Hoping For

The first hunting dog I ever trained was an English Springer Spaniel named “Ruger”.  To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. A professional dog trainer had worked with Ruger on upland hunting, and I was trying to do the waterfowl training to the best of my very limited abilities.  I thought I had done a pretty good job by piecing together a few bits of knowledge from YouTube and what I had seen other people do.  I truly believed Ruger was ready to hunt waterfowl, but boy was I wrong. 

For our first hunt together, I decided to go with a waterfowl guide service in the Mississippi Delta. Ruger and I were paired with a few other guys and set out to hunt a flooded bean field that had held some mallards scouted the day before. Less than two minutes before shooting light, just as we were loading our guns, massive flocks of mallards began dropping into the hole. We were all...

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Gunner Kennels' Food Crate Review

Apr 02, 2023

Why Do I Need A Dog Food Storage Container?

A few years ago, I drove up to Michigan for an early season goose hunt. I put a bag of dog food in my truck for the trip, and I drove through a little rain on the way. I didn't think anything about it until later that evening when I picked up my bag of food to start feeding my dogs. The bag lifted with much more ease than usual, because the bottom of it busted out and all of the food spilled out into the bed of my truck, and the entire bag was ruined!

If you have a working dog, you probably have a hungry dog. Working dogs consume a good bit of food, and often times the owners of working dogs will feed the best dog foods, designed specifically to keep their hunting dog in shape. If you only have one or two dogs, a bag of dog food may last you well over a month. Whether you feed a bag a month or a bag every day, quality dog food is an expensive part of owning a gun dog.

Even though some the bags that quality dog food comes in may last a...

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Marked Retrieves vs. Blind Retrieves

Mar 14, 2023


Your Dog Needs To Know How To Retrieve Marks and Blinds

Coming out of duck season, did you have any banger volleys that ended with fist pumps and high-fives around the blind? If you did, chances are that your dog had to run both marked and blind retrieves. Both are very common during normal hunting scenarios, and it is important to train for both if you want to have a well-rounded gundog.

The simple definition of a marked retrieve is any retrieve that your dog is able to visually see on its way down. A blind retrieve, or an "unmarked retrieve", on the other hand, is any retrieve that the dog does not see on the way down. Whether or not a downed bird is a mark or a blind plays a very important roll in how you will handle your duck dog on the retrieve as well as the gundog training required to get him there.

Teach Your Dog To Be A Marking Machine

Two seasons ago I was on a goose hunt with some friends in Arkansas. We were targeting Speckled Belly Geese, but we...

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How To Start Back Training After Duck Season

Feb 02, 2023

Quick Breaks Are Helpful

If you're worried about taking a short break from retriever training, you aren't alone! One of the most common questions we get about gundog training in general is how long is too long to take time off with your retriever. Hunting season can be tough on a dog, both physically and mentally! Most water dogs end the season a little behind, training-wise, where they began.

It can be helpful to give your duck hunting dog a little break once the season ends. Between the traveling, cold water, demanding hunts, etc., they've probably earned it! Besides, most of us duck hunters are pretty worn out ourselves. Taking a short break isn't going to be detrimental to yourself for your duck dog.

Make The Most of Your Time Off

During your break from retriever training, however, it can be helpful to go ahead and come up with a dog training game plan for when you get back started. Think back over the season. What did your gun dog struggle with? What challenges do you remember...

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What To Prepare For When Hunting Multiple Dogs

Jan 22, 2023


As much fun as it can be to hunt multiple retrievers, it is not without its challenges. The training required to prepare a dog to hunt with another dog is well beyond the retriever training required for only one dog on the hunt. Even though your gun dog might be well-advanced in training, we want to be sure you are prepared for the challenges you will face when two duck hunting dogs are in the blind at the same time.

There is something worth noting before we even get into the specifics. If the other dog who will be hunting alongside your dog is untrained, it may be best to leave your dog in the truck. An unsteady dog can be a really tough temptation on your own steady hunting dog. A dog who breaks, makes noise, does not promptly deliver to hand, etc. can be challenging to hunt alongside. If there is a major risk of creating bad habits, it is probably better to leave your dog at home.

It is also important to remember that hunting your water dog will almost always work against...

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Gunner's All-Weather Kit and Cold-Weather Door Review

Jan 15, 2023

Prepping for Cold Weather

Winter is here in full-blast, and many arctic cold fronts have already swept across the country. For those of us who are chasing ducks, whether down the road or across state lines, our retrievers might be spending some time riding in a dog crate in colder weather. While there are many different options to choose from for a dog kennel for travel, we have always been fans of the Gunner Kennel G1 dog crate.

Gunner has done extensive testing on their kennels, including cold weather testing, to determine what happens inside the kennel as the temperatures drop. These tests have shown that a kennel can stay up to 20 degrees warmer than the air temps outside, but this still may not solve one of the biggest issues with winter weather - winds. Winds and the wind chill can cause hypothermia in dogs rather quickly. This is where Gunner's All-Weather Kit 2.0 comes in!

All-Weather Kit's Overall Design and Function

Notice that the cover designed for Gunner kennels...

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Electronic Collars - Our Take On Them

Jan 11, 2023

What is an E-Collar?

An electric collar (or e-collar) is a type of dog training collar often utilized amongst a wide variety of dog training disciplines. E-collars have a remote, held by the trainer, and a receiver that is attached to a flat collar fitted onto the dog's neck. The receiver has a prong system with two or more prongs, which transmits either a vibration or a small electric pulse from the remote. The level of the pulse, or "shock", can be adjusted on the remote. Most e-collars have the ability to transmit a very quick pulse, often called a "nick", or a longer pulse (continuous). Some e-collars will also transmit a sound in the form of a "beep". E-collars are battery-operated and often have a range of well over 250 yards.

Over the last few decades, the technology of electronic collars has improved by leaps and bounds. While the older e-collars were known for being quite strong and "burning", newer technology has allowed e-collars to be toned down to a much lower level of...

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How Long Should My Training Sessions Be?

Oct 28, 2022

The Answer Depends on Reading Your Dog

We often get the question, “How long should my training session be?”  It is beyond difficult to honestly answer this question, because it is different for every dog!  Some dogs thrive in short, to-the-point, training session that take place at least once a day, sometimes more.  Other dogs do really well with a long, forty-five minute session two or three days a week.  The rare dog can train all day long, every day.  Others need very little work throughout the week to make progress.  The trick is to develop an ability to read and understand your gun dog. This skill of reading your dog begins from the moment you learn how to potty train a puppy and continues through your dog's entire life.

 The Over-Zealous First-Time-Trainer

I remember when I would load up my gear, one dog in the kennel, and drive twenty minutes to the outskirts of town for a training session. It would...

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Why Is Timing So Important for Retriever Training?

Oct 13, 2022

The Importance of Timing

Whether giving a reward or issuing a correction, your timing is so important while training a retriever.  A reward given too late will not reinforce the desired behavior.  A reward given too soon will be a distraction or will reinforce the wrong behavior.  A correction given too late will most likely be misunderstood by the dog and could cause undesired issues with other aspects of retriever training.  Learning proper timing techniques, including how to reward and how to correct a dog, will help advance a novice trainer to a more advanced level of gun dog training.

Time and Reps In the Field Cannot Be Replaced

When it comes to gun dog training and timing, nothing replaces the hours spent and reps made in the field. It takes a lot of time and practices with your dog to get good at timing.  One option for faster improvement is to film yourself while you train, then go back and evaluate your timing.  Did you rush your...

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