With the exception of my older brother, who lives three hours away, and a pro, who is also quite a ways down the road, I have mostly trained Pritchard alone. At first this was how I liked it. But lately I’ve realized the upside to having training partners. You can share tips and tricks, and even commiserate when things go south. In addition, a partner may have better access to land and birds.


The best way to get in the company of other gun doggers is to join a local club or even one at the national level. Here in Charleston, I recently joined the Charleston Retriever Club and just a few days later was invited to attend a training day sponsored by Avery Sporting Dog. There will be hunt test scenarios, water work, and even lunch. I also belong to the Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club, where last year Pritch and I thoroughly embarrassed ourselves at a hunt test (photo above), but received a bucketful of helpful training advice and support.

On the national level I know groups like the North American Hunting Retriever Association are also extremely popular and offer variety of hunt tests through local clubs and host events throughout the year.

My advice for those amateurs just starting in the training game: Don’t go it alone. Find a training partner or join a club and find a whole slew of training partners. The access to training days, local pros and hunt tests is invaluable.

I’m curious how many of you belong to gun dog clubs (and what ones) or if you rather train alone?