First post here,
I have always been a recreational fisher/hunter, taking trips with friends, don't own a boat or a lease. My two sons have begun taking in interest in duck hunting and really all shooting sports lately so I have become committed to spending as much time as I can with both of them outdoors. I have been involved with little league football with the younger but the older showed no interest and that chapter may be closing for our family. I am spending time "around" my son while I am coaching but I can't say we are spending time together.
My older son has a birthday in February and he really wants a Lab. I might get him a Christmas pup in the hopes we can have the dog with us opening dove season next year (I live east of Houston) I have grown up with dogs (house felt weird if we didn't have two dogs at one time) so our family is dog friendly. He is the type of kid animals and small children follow around. Good natured and very attentive. I really want to try and start this off right but there are a bunch of differing opinions out there and I was curious about the suggestions for a COMPLETE beginner. I searched the forum and it seems some of the suggestions were for field trial dogs or competition. I am not interested in that. We will have a family pet that can hunt too.
I have the "Ten-minute trainer" book coming to me in the mail to check out, is there a companion DVD to go along with this?
My 12 year old son will be heavily involved in this (I want him to be the trainer) so that needs to be taken into consideration.
I appreciate it!
first I wish to welcome you to RTF. Youngsters are the life blood for our sport. Do your research on a pup and check for health clearances on the pup BEFORE you buy. The classified ads on here are a good place to start looking.
Welcome. Glad to hear your sons are interested in becoming involved. Sounds like you plan to do your homework before getting involved which is great. Someone from your geographic area will no doubt chime in, but do some research and find out about local clubs and tests (UKC/HRC/AKC) and trials. Though you say you are not interested in competition, it would be worth your while to visit some events to see what trained dogs can do. Many, if not most, test/trial dogs hunt extensively and sleep on the couch when they are not competing. Training for competition is just an extension of basic training for a competent, well mannered hunting retriever. There may be a club in your area or a training group. Most welcome new folks and you can learn a lot by just going and watching. There are all sorts of excellent training programs and DVD/manuals and you can hit the search button to investigate some of them. Hard to do it all properly from a book or DVD the first time without outside help. Having your son do the training is a noble idea, but he will need a competent mentor to do it correctly. And, if your son is like mine was at that age, he will listen to a third party far more than he will listen to you. Good luck and keep us posted on your journey.
Nothing substantive to add to awclark's advice. You really should follow it. For a beginner your best bet is to find a HUNT TEST CLUB and visit them on a training day. Hunt tests are non-competitive therefor more relaxed than field trials. It will be a great place for you to start. Someone in the club will know of a good litter coming up. Your boys will get the opportunity to help out with training jobs that will give them a sense of contributing while learning.
By getting a pup from within the club you will have a chance to start it right and by participating in club activities you will have a good perspective on how to start formal training once your pup is old enough. If you demonstrate that you are there to participate you won't have trouble finding mentoring.
x2 join a club in your area. you will pick up great hunting spots too.
No he won't!! Heck - probably 20% will even hunt and they are happy to share training ideas and throw birds but give up spots? ;-)
Originally Posted by yellow machine
You said a mouthful above and I wish you luck. Whether you or he or both (both is good) train the dog - it will require some real, worthwhile effort. That includes many hours of educating yourselves. Despite not wanting to test or trial, that club stuff is where the experience is. And if you want experience, that is where you should go. That said you may get hooked on at least the lower stakes. Clubs usually give but also expect it in return.
Originally Posted by daBuzzard
What I wouldn't do is get a book or two and 'wing it'.
12 years - great age but having been through it...the dog/dad thing might wane or surrender to girls and buddies here real quick. ;-) For that reason - while doing this 'with him' I'd plan to own the training.
We (myself and 2 children ages 8 & 13) are just starting out on our adventure as well. I chose to involve them as much as possible beginning with researching and finding the breeding. This generated a lot of interest and questions as well as allowing them to better understand the importance of this process. We have also initiated the process of joining a local club and will attend a training day or 2 before we even bring our pup home.(You could always do this under the guise of "thinking about getting a lab" to gauge interest and present your decision come December) I want them to see not only what is possible, but more importantly what goes into the training of a well mannered, competent retriever. I know there will be times that other interests will win out, but I am willing to bet that by having had a part from the beginning they will maintain a sense of pride and ownership that will prevent them from being away for too long. There are lots of ways to involve them at training days and hunt tests that allows them to be involved and feel good about the whole experience. My 8 year old is already talking about all the things that need to happen if we want to take our new guy hunting next year! The fact that he recognizes and readily accepts the delayed gratification lets me know that this was the best approach for us.
I would tend to agree with the others. Even if you don't plan on competing, going to a retriever club training day might be a good idea. There should be some knowledgable folks there and you get a chance to check out their dogs and you can ask about their breeding. If it were me, I would pick a dog with some type of title (FC, AFC, QAA, MH, etc.) but don't just pick a dog because they have those letters. Make sure the parents have the temperment, biddability (if that's a word) and retrieving desire you want. Oh, and nothing against British Labs (I own one) but buy into the sales pitches surrounding them, a lot of newbies do. There are good dogs, bad dogs, calm dogs, hyper dogs, soft dogs and hard dogs on both sides of the ocean. Again, look at the parents and if they have what you want, take the chance and go for it.
I think finding a retrieving club day locally would be great too. I need to do some research on that.
I do think expecting my 12 y/o to be the trainer is probably asking a bit much (I could have throttled him today, typical 12 y/o boy stuff) but if I approach it as a project we can tackle together, we may be able to pull it off.