These two commands will get Pup to load into a crate for hunting, go to his box or bed when you want him to, or sit still in a blind during a hunt. Introduce the kennel gradually, first with the door open, with treats inside if necessary. As the dog enters the crate, say, “kennel” or “kennel up.” He should always associate a kennel with good things: food, going hunting or training, or a quiet, safe den. Don’t use it for punishment. Soon, he will want to go there as soon as you give the command. To teach your dog to load, put him on a leash and lead him to a kennel on the ground first, luring him inside with a treat. Then gradually increase the height until he will jump up into the back of the truck. You may need to start with the vehicle on a slope in order to get the tailgate low enough for him to hop up onto.
Place is a similar command to kennel or load, and it’s the first step in teaching a retriever to sit with you in the blind and be steady. Lead the puppy up onto a platform, something like a bucket or a short step stool that’s easy to get on but requires the pup to jump off. Say “place,” and praise him for staying there. Then transition from the stool to a square of carpet on the ground. Again, increase duration and add distractions as your pupil improves. Later on, you can take that carpet square with you to the blind or the boat.
Be sure to check out our full guide on how to train a pup to be your new hunting buddy.
Photograph by Ralph Smith