How to train a Labrador retriever puppy for hunting?

 Imagine the marvel on your face when you see your dog bring you some bird to roast on a nice hunting trip. Amazing right? The Labrador retriever is a natural at hunting. This was especially so in ancient times when fishermen would use it to retrieve birds in the water. Be warned, training a Labrador retriever to hunt can be an uphill task. With the right trainer, training method, and training products, you’ll have an asset. You should remember that training a dog can take a lot of your time. Commitment is the first seed you will have to cultivate as a trainer.

To train your puppy with ease, you will need to follow the ten stated steps. Be consistent in following this method and will reward your hard efforts.

  1. Socialize your puppy
  2. Introduce it to a cage
  3. Teach it basic commands
  4. Allow it outdoors
  5. Buy the hunting aids needed
  6. Bird play
  7. Expose the puppy to gunfire
  8. Do not over train your pup
  9. Reward your Lab
  10. Practice
Training a Labrador puppy

Socializing your puppy

 At around eight weeks, your puppy will be ready to begin training. This journey of a thousand miles and barks starts when a pup is well socialized. You should take your lab out to familiarize with people, other dogs, and learn to be friendly. It will be easy to know the emerging temperament of your dog. If that is not evident yet, knowing the pup’s history will guide you.

It is wise to have chosen a pooch that has a history of hunting rather than being a house dog. This offers you a great head start. Once your four-legged newbie is well socialized, know you can hop on to the next stage.

Introduce it to a cage

Dogs like to have their own space. Training your lab puppy to know and stay in its cage aids in many ways. Sometimes you may be too lazy to insist on this. If you only think of caging your pooch only when visiting the vet, then it will stop seeing the need for it. To avoid this, let it practice the cage staying. Your travel to the ranch or lake where you will be practicing retrieving will be so much easier. Check out some of the portable cages here.

Teach your Lab basic commands

Your dog should be able to respond to basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘fetch,’ ‘come’ and ‘stay.’ Remember to name your dog in a different way from the command you intend to use when retrieving. To prevent confusing your dog every time, have a term that it will mean ‘retrieve.’ If your dog has obedience skills, they can trust you and make training controllable.

 Allow it outdoors

Letting your pup know the outdoors will aid in knowing its environment. You can start by taking it for a walk in a ranch or lake nearby. You will get an opportunity to water train too and make it adapt to water. Even if for fun at first, water training starts like this. During these walks, you can throw a toy and use the retrieve command to see if the lab will return it to you. Investing in training tools like locator collars can be a good addition. They are useful in tracking your pup is when it strays.

Buy the hunting aids needed

You will need a variety of training products from available stores today. Among them is a dummy like pigeon feathers. For your dog to know the difference between a real bird and a dummy, set the decoys far away. Do this before throwing the dummy so that they can try to look for it and avoid distraction. You can get the scented dummies here.

Be sure to reward your dog once they bring home the dummies. This prepares them in knowing how to avoid the decoys when exposed to a real bird.

Bird Play

Ensure you are away from distractions when starting bird play. You will need a dead pigeon to start with. Your pup will not get scared since it is immobile. During this session, let your pup familiarize with the texture of a real bird. Keep an eye on your lab, warning it when it bites the bird or chews on it. Nipping this bad behavior from the bud is essential. You may need training tools like check rods, whistles, and the wings as you advance.

Expose the puppy to gunfire

Dogs are not born responsive to gunfire. At first hearing, it could cause fear more than getting it excited. Going to a gun range with your lab pooch will be great exposure. You need to do this with a lot of patience. Ensure that you start from a far range, with time decreasing the distance. If you shower your dog with praise during this time, it will respond well.

 Don’t Over train your pup

You need to know when it’s time to stop. For starters, an hour of training is enough. Labrador retrievers love retrieving and can actually do it all day. Once they have mastered the training, it is best to keep it short and sweet. Professional trainers recommend you to stop training when the dog is still active. This makes him want more and look forward to the following session. 

Reward your Labrador retriever

Who doesn’t love a pat on the back for a job well done? Having not heard of anyone yet, know that dogs are quite similar. They respond to rewards. Be keen not to give treats after a successful retrieving as the pup could get used to it. When this happens, it could always be whining for treats. 

 You rather it concentrates on mastering the hunting. A warm pat, cuddle, and affirmation words like ‘good boy’ are enough. Your lab will enjoy retrieving. Labrador retrievers are known to love pleasing their owners. Because of this nature, succeeding in retrieving is part of it.


How else will the pup grow into a master retriever if not through practice? This training only gets rewarding for you, too, when you make it a lifestyle. Don’t worry! Your lab won’t hate it. They love water and made for this. You can now rest every time you go for hunts. 

 You will find many under-trained labs owned by people without the time to train them. If you are in such a situation, hire a professional trainer to be your guide during these sessions. Training the pup should be fun for both of you. Always keep your pup in shape, encouraging along the way.

Finally, when you feel like giving up, remember the commitment that so drives you to train your pooch. Some owners may raise their hands halfway, but finishing what you started is the beauty. With the right training tools, your commitment, and the dog’s instinct to retrieve have no worry. Your trained pup will, in no time, bring back to you the shot bird. Go to our blog to learn more about your favorite dog. Now let’s roast and toast to this achievement, can we?

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