Not everyone can give a Golden Retriever the chance to show his Skill in the field, but if possible every owner should do something to educate his dog to make him into an amiable and obedient member of the household or kennel.
The success of your training depends not only on your ability to teach the puppy but also on making sure your puppy has got the correct temperament and character . Some puppies show signs of natural ability from a very early age and will pick up all sorts of objects and carry them around with great pleasure. The puppy should be encouraged to bring whatever he is carrying to you and praised for doing so, but do not enter into a game if he decides to go off in the opposite direction. At this age he is better ignored as the day will come later when serious training must begin and it is better that he should know nothing at all rather than have learnt a bad habit at an early age. Many good dogs are ruined by bad handling, and more often than not the seeds of bad behaviour are sown when the puppy is very young.
Most dogs are intelligent and have a natural desire to please, and love the work they were bred for. If you have decided that you are going to train your dog to the gun the basic training is the same whether or not you wish later to go on to Working Tests or Field Trails.
It is most important that the would-be trainer and owner should know exactly what he should expect from his dog. Apart from knowing that he is a dog many people have no idea what kind of work he is intended to do.
Know your chosen breed. For Example :A Retriever is bred to hunt and bring to hand dead and wounded game. It is not primarily his job to flush live game as this is a spaMel’s work, but many retriever owners who have some rough shooting require this of them. In this case only an older dog should be allowed to hunt if he is to remain steady. Once a young dog has been permitted to flush birds it will be extremely difficult to keep him under control when working on shot birds, and in any case the basic training must he done thoroughly first of all.
You need to understand that there is a difference between the work of Retrievers and that of Setters and Pointers, who work entirely by scent in the air and not on the ground as in the case of Retrievers and Spaniels. The work which Setters and Pointers do is to scent live unshot birds from as far away as possible without flushing them until the gun is in position. When the birds are flushed and shot it is then the Retrievers’s job to retrieve them from where they have fallen and deliver them to hand. As a rule, Setters and Pointers do not retrieve, but their work is extremely fascinating to watch and is a highly skilled operation when correctly carried out.
Many times I have been told by people who own retrievers that their dogs bring articles to them but will not put them down. In their ignorance they expect the object to be laid at their feet, whereas in fact the dog is doing exactly what he is supposed to do, ‘bringing to hand’, and he should be encouraged to release into your hand whatever he has brought and never put it down.
How often one sees dogs being exercised by someone throwing either a stick, stone or ball for the dog to go rushing after and bring back. Never do this with a retriever, even in the early days, if you intend to train him at a later date. In any case stones can damage the teeth, and bouncing halls are highly dangerous. I know of one Golden Retriever Champion who died through being choked in this way.