On the following pages Sports Illustrated continues the four-part series with step-by-step instructions on how to train the retrieving breeds. Shown above are the six most popular retrievers in this country. In recent years, however, several, like the standard poodle, have appeared more often in show rings than in duck blinds. All of these breeds, nevertheless, are built for rough work in the outdoors, and specifically for use in duck and goose shooting. Their dense waterproof coats, great physical stamina and superb swimming ability equip them to work under even the most adverse weather conditions and in the most difficult country. In fact, many retrievers actually seem to be at their best when weather conditions are at their worst. Like the flushing spaniels and trailing hounds discussed in Parts I and II, however, retrievers must be carefully trained before they can be expected to do a good job in the field. With practice and patience, all of the six dogs shown in the panel above can become excellent hunting companions, and, equally important, they can contribute a great deal to conservation by preventing the waste of crippled and lost birds.
JAMES A. COWIE
Son of a Scottish gamekeeper, James Cowie of Commack, N.Y. grew up handling gun dogs in Pitlochry, Scotland. Since coming to this country in 1920 he has schooled hundreds of retrievers, and three times in succession won the Labrador Retriever Club Championship.
First months afield
A retriever is born with an instinct to fetch, and he usually shows signs of it by playfully picking up any object thrown to him. This does not mean that he is ready to start his formal field training. You may actually discourage his natural instincts if you try to train him too early. Most dogs are not ready until they are about 9 months old. Some Labradors can be started sooner but Chesapeakes and goldens often do better when training begins at 11 or 12 months. Until this time take the pup out every day (or as often as possible) for runs of no more than 15 minutes and just introduce him to the outdoors. Walk with him through fields and brush so he gets used to varied terrain. Let him play with a glove by throwing it to him. When he picks it up, call him back to you by blowing several short, soft blasts on a training whistle (25�). Praise him if he fetches it to you but don't correct him if he does not. Your goal now is simply to acquaint him with the outdoors and with one simple whistle command.
Blow whistle to call pup to you as he retrieves glove.
First formal exercises
When the pup is used to the outdoors and has learned the basic sit, stay, and come commands from his home training (SI, July 14 & 21, 1958), he is ready to start formal work in the field. Begin by making him sit. Take hold of his collar and throw a training dummy ($2.95) about 10 yards. Release him on the command, "Fetch," and direct him toward the dummy with a sweeping movement of your arm. As soon as he picks up the dummy, whistle him back to you. If he runs the other way, don't chase after him. Instead step back and call him by name. When he finally comes to you, be ready to take the dummy from him before he drops it. Spend several weeks on this exercise and ignore his mistakes.
Hold dog in sit position, then throw training dummy.
Step back and lake dummy from dog before he drops it.
First experience with gunfire