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June 08, 2009

Training By the Book

By David DiBenedetto

There are two things I’m certain of in life:

1. Time and tide will wait for no man.

2. Get a new hunting pup and everyone you know will recommend a must-read training book.

As an avid reader, I was happy to get the recommendations. My brother, who introduced me to field trials and hunting dogs when I was a kid, thinks that Training Your Retriever by the late James Lamb Free is still the classic work in the field. Free’s book is certainly old school. He suggests not starting your pup on training until she is 1 year old (the only notion even my brother disagrees with), and scoffs at the idea of a dog living anywhere but 4-foot-by-23-foot kennel. Seems most trainers either love or hate Mr. Free’s book.

A fellow outdoor writer swears by The 10-Minute Retreiver by John and Amy Dahl. It’s a very good book, and I’ve found it helpful. But if you think you’re looking to get away with only 10 minutes a day in this game, you might need to buy yourself a cat.

A few friends claimed the only book to read was Water Dog by the late Richard Wolters. It’s another older book with some very solid info. Wolters quickly debunks the myth that a dog owner should wait a year before training a pup. (He insists on starting at 7 weeks.) I found the book a touch preachy in parts, but there’s no question Wolters was a maestro when it came to dog training.

My favorite, however, is a book that’s as much a pleasure to read on a cold night by the fire as it is informative—Hey Pup, Fetch It Up by the late Bill Tarrant. As the Field & Stream gun dog columnist for many years, Tarrant entertained and taught millions of dog owners. His book, while sometimes rambling, always comes back to one main point: You have to love the dog…and think like a dog to get her to do what you want.

Anyone have a favorite from the above list? Or know of one I left out? Let’s hear it.

Comments (18)

Top Rated
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from pinopolis wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

one i've been meaning to check out is A Rough Shooting Dog by Charles Fergus. i've heard many good things about the writing and advice. curious if any of the other commenters have read it...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

'Water Dog' and 'Gun Dog' by Wolters worked for me! They are both also in DVD and are excellent resources and reading. Maybe not as entertaining as the late Bill Tarrant.

I'll read the others sometime when and if I get too bored.

My big Lab is a spoiled house dog, but is a voracious hunter and retriever. Being in the house has not affected his willingness to jump into freezing water or swim in Slurpee-like slush! I think he is a Mamma's boy when I am not around, but as soon as I come home, he is ready to train or play. He will also go after you if he feels Mom is threatened and is my vehicle security system.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

A Rough Shooting Dog is a great book. Highly recomended.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

pinopolis and hal,

Sounds like the next book I'll be reading is A Rough Shooting Dog. Looking forward to it.

if anyone is interested here's a little blurb about the book I found online:

A Rough Shooting Dog is the beautifully told story of the selection, training, and first hunting season of Jenny, the author's English Springer Spaniel. In lyrical and moving prose, Charles Fergus explores how the intimate bonds between a hunting dog and her master produce a deeper understanding and celebration of the natural world.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

never read "Rough Shooting Dog" but have found a old book called "The Field Dog" to be somewhat informative on the more expert tips.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cowens wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I have read "Retriever training for Spaniel: working with soft-tempered, hard headed, intelligent dogs"" by Pamela Owen Kadlec. I have used every aspect of the book to this point in the training except the clicker training portion. It is tailored for Boykins and outlines the difference between training a Lab and a Spaniel. I have trained both and the difference is very evident. Hondo has progressed very well with the methods outlined in the book, especially introducing him to water and shotguns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

My dogs train themselves. The key is convincing them that you are the alpha male. When they are 5 weeks old instill the fact that you can catch them. They won't try to outrun you if they know you can catch them. I'm old and slow now but I can catch a young pup. Glock, my newest pup, is doing well. He's my duck dog, my fishing bud, and is laying on my foot as we speak. Rudy, perhaps the best dog I have ever had, is on a dog bed in front of the TV. He is pushing 15, and I almost cry when I see him. Dogs train themselves. You just aim their priorites. How fortunate we are that they chose to hang with us.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from gspnewby wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I love Richard Wolters books. GAME DOG seems to be the most inclusive for the all around bird hunting dog. Though he uses labs as examples in his book. I believe almost all of his training methods are universal for the gun dog. I love Wolters style of writing, I often read GAME DOG or GUN DOG at night before bed just because I enjoy it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Training a Spaniel and training a lab are two different things. Im with Cowens, Get Pams book and then get two other books to go with it.
Dont shoot the dog by Karen Pryor and The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

Before you can effectively train a dog you must know how his mind works. These two books go into detail about what makes the mind of a dog tick.

Positive reninforcement works much better for Boykins. Labs will take a betting and keep coming back for more. Try that with your Boykin and he will shut down on you.

Good Luck and Im enjoying the read. I have a 18 week old Boykin and will be picking up a 12 week old Boykin this weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Training a Spaniel and training a lab are two different things. Im with Cowens, Get Pams book and then get two other books to go with it.
Dont shoot the dog by Karen Pryor and The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

Before you can effectively train a dog you must know how his mind works. These two books go into detail about what makes the mind of a dog tick.

Positive reninforcement works much better for Boykins. Labs will take a betting and keep coming back for more. Try that with your Boykin and he will shut down on you.

Good Luck and Im enjoying the read. I have a 18 week old Boykin and will be picking up a 12 week old Boykin this weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Quackwacker,

That's not the first time I've heard someone recommend Retriever Training for Your Spaniel. I know the author has commented a few times on some past blog posts and I'm hoping to spend some days training with her in the future. But in the meantime I'll have to add the book to my list. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jonah wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

More of a question here than a comment, but how about books for English Setters? I just rescued a 6 year old who had been, I think, pretty neglected. I didn't get her with the expectation that she'd be a hunting dog, but if she happens to turn into one that's fine by me. I'm reading How to be Your Dog's Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete for general training. But I thought you folks might have something better for a specific breed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from s-kfry wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

We're getting our 8 year old daughter a yellow lab in 2 weeks, it will be 49 days old. We're going with Richard Wolters. If it works well we will use it as our standard.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Card wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

David,

You have some great books that cover retriever training but you should also look into developing Pritchard's spaniel mojo for the uplands. For that I'd suggest "Hup! Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way" by James Spencer.

Also related to the previous post about finding a place to train, the ultimate book for that is "Urban Gun Dogs" by Roettger and Schleider. They address issues like dog training in the suburbs and is geared toward spaniels and retrievers.

A few books down from those two titles on my bookshelf is "On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast."

It's not about dogs but a damn good read.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

James Card,

I appreciate those two recommendations. They both sound great, especially since I've really been thinking about unleashing Pritch's "spaniel mojo" in the upland.

As for "On the Run," anyone who is a fan of that one is a friend of mine...thanks for the kudos.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

s-kfry

Grab the DVD for the Wolters book. It will entertain and get your daughter much more involved in the training and playtime, I guarantee it.

WMH

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hjohn429 wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

Should come in handy. Thanks for the article.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jpj6780 wrote 4 years 12 weeks ago

Retrievers, From the Inside, Out
By: Butch Goodwin

Butch is the proprietor of Northern Flight Retrievers, just West of Boise, Idaho. The book is wordy, but it's all there. Butch also wrote for the Retriever Journal.

I had the opportunity to visit Butch's kennel a few years back. Great guy too.

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Post a Comment

from pinopolis wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

one i've been meaning to check out is A Rough Shooting Dog by Charles Fergus. i've heard many good things about the writing and advice. curious if any of the other commenters have read it...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

'Water Dog' and 'Gun Dog' by Wolters worked for me! They are both also in DVD and are excellent resources and reading. Maybe not as entertaining as the late Bill Tarrant.

I'll read the others sometime when and if I get too bored.

My big Lab is a spoiled house dog, but is a voracious hunter and retriever. Being in the house has not affected his willingness to jump into freezing water or swim in Slurpee-like slush! I think he is a Mamma's boy when I am not around, but as soon as I come home, he is ready to train or play. He will also go after you if he feels Mom is threatened and is my vehicle security system.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

A Rough Shooting Dog is a great book. Highly recomended.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

pinopolis and hal,

Sounds like the next book I'll be reading is A Rough Shooting Dog. Looking forward to it.

if anyone is interested here's a little blurb about the book I found online:

A Rough Shooting Dog is the beautifully told story of the selection, training, and first hunting season of Jenny, the author's English Springer Spaniel. In lyrical and moving prose, Charles Fergus explores how the intimate bonds between a hunting dog and her master produce a deeper understanding and celebration of the natural world.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

never read "Rough Shooting Dog" but have found a old book called "The Field Dog" to be somewhat informative on the more expert tips.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cowens wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I have read "Retriever training for Spaniel: working with soft-tempered, hard headed, intelligent dogs"" by Pamela Owen Kadlec. I have used every aspect of the book to this point in the training except the clicker training portion. It is tailored for Boykins and outlines the difference between training a Lab and a Spaniel. I have trained both and the difference is very evident. Hondo has progressed very well with the methods outlined in the book, especially introducing him to water and shotguns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

My dogs train themselves. The key is convincing them that you are the alpha male. When they are 5 weeks old instill the fact that you can catch them. They won't try to outrun you if they know you can catch them. I'm old and slow now but I can catch a young pup. Glock, my newest pup, is doing well. He's my duck dog, my fishing bud, and is laying on my foot as we speak. Rudy, perhaps the best dog I have ever had, is on a dog bed in front of the TV. He is pushing 15, and I almost cry when I see him. Dogs train themselves. You just aim their priorites. How fortunate we are that they chose to hang with us.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from gspnewby wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I love Richard Wolters books. GAME DOG seems to be the most inclusive for the all around bird hunting dog. Though he uses labs as examples in his book. I believe almost all of his training methods are universal for the gun dog. I love Wolters style of writing, I often read GAME DOG or GUN DOG at night before bed just because I enjoy it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Training a Spaniel and training a lab are two different things. Im with Cowens, Get Pams book and then get two other books to go with it.
Dont shoot the dog by Karen Pryor and The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

Before you can effectively train a dog you must know how his mind works. These two books go into detail about what makes the mind of a dog tick.

Positive reninforcement works much better for Boykins. Labs will take a betting and keep coming back for more. Try that with your Boykin and he will shut down on you.

Good Luck and Im enjoying the read. I have a 18 week old Boykin and will be picking up a 12 week old Boykin this weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Training a Spaniel and training a lab are two different things. Im with Cowens, Get Pams book and then get two other books to go with it.
Dont shoot the dog by Karen Pryor and The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

Before you can effectively train a dog you must know how his mind works. These two books go into detail about what makes the mind of a dog tick.

Positive reninforcement works much better for Boykins. Labs will take a betting and keep coming back for more. Try that with your Boykin and he will shut down on you.

Good Luck and Im enjoying the read. I have a 18 week old Boykin and will be picking up a 12 week old Boykin this weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Quackwacker,

That's not the first time I've heard someone recommend Retriever Training for Your Spaniel. I know the author has commented a few times on some past blog posts and I'm hoping to spend some days training with her in the future. But in the meantime I'll have to add the book to my list. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jonah wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

More of a question here than a comment, but how about books for English Setters? I just rescued a 6 year old who had been, I think, pretty neglected. I didn't get her with the expectation that she'd be a hunting dog, but if she happens to turn into one that's fine by me. I'm reading How to be Your Dog's Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete for general training. But I thought you folks might have something better for a specific breed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from s-kfry wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

We're getting our 8 year old daughter a yellow lab in 2 weeks, it will be 49 days old. We're going with Richard Wolters. If it works well we will use it as our standard.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Card wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

David,

You have some great books that cover retriever training but you should also look into developing Pritchard's spaniel mojo for the uplands. For that I'd suggest "Hup! Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way" by James Spencer.

Also related to the previous post about finding a place to train, the ultimate book for that is "Urban Gun Dogs" by Roettger and Schleider. They address issues like dog training in the suburbs and is geared toward spaniels and retrievers.

A few books down from those two titles on my bookshelf is "On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast."

It's not about dogs but a damn good read.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

James Card,

I appreciate those two recommendations. They both sound great, especially since I've really been thinking about unleashing Pritch's "spaniel mojo" in the upland.

As for "On the Run," anyone who is a fan of that one is a friend of mine...thanks for the kudos.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

s-kfry

Grab the DVD for the Wolters book. It will entertain and get your daughter much more involved in the training and playtime, I guarantee it.

WMH

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hjohn429 wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

Should come in handy. Thanks for the article.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jpj6780 wrote 4 years 12 weeks ago

Retrievers, From the Inside, Out
By: Butch Goodwin

Butch is the proprietor of Northern Flight Retrievers, just West of Boise, Idaho. The book is wordy, but it's all there. Butch also wrote for the Retriever Journal.

I had the opportunity to visit Butch's kennel a few years back. Great guy too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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