how to train a golden retriever to hunt

How to Train a Golden Retriever to Hunt

Are you interested in finding out how to teach your Golden Retriever to hunt? Goldens were initially developed as hunting dogs more than one hundred years ago. Even though they are now more well-recognized as companions, they still make excellent field companions if taught.

One amazing way to enjoy the outdoors with your dog is hunting together. For thousands of years, people and dogs have shared the hunt. Many hunting breeds were created to locate, flush out, or recover prey. Yet, it doesn’t follow that your dog will always know what to do while out on a hunt. You’ll need to train your dog before you and your canine friend goes in quest of the game. Dogs need to become habituated to loud noises like gunshots in addition to helping you locate and capture the prey you’re seeking.

Golden retrievers’ friendly nature and calm disposition make them excellent with children and other animals. It might be difficult to imagine your Retriever running through the woods to find its prey. In this article, we can all learn how to teach a golden retriever to hunt.

The Hunting History of Golden Retrievers

In the nineteenth century, in Scotland is where the golden retriever dog breed was created. They are hunting canines with the express purpose of retrieving ducks when out hunting with their owners. Dudley Marjoribanks, afterward known as Lord Tweedmouth, was the one who created the breed. He set out to breed a dog in the middle of the nineteenth century that could thrive in the climate and topography of Scotland.

He bred a Golden retriever and a Tweed Water Spaniel, resulting in the first generation of golden retrievers. Since they were so good at locating the game on land and water, golden retrievers rapidly gained popularity among hunters. Also, they were quite trainable, making them a favorite among hunters who wanted a dog that could be taught to do various duties. In addition to their aptitude for hunting, golden retrievers were renowned for their amiable and devoted dispositions.

Due to their widespread popularity as family dogs and pets, they swiftly rose to the top of the list of breeds worldwide. While many golden retrievers still love retrieving and hunting, they are service animals and household pets. Yet, their history of hunting continues to be a significant component of their breed legacy, and many breeders continue to work to develop golden retrievers that are naturally talented in the field.

Methods of Training Golden Retriever to Hunt 

how to train a golden retriever to hunt

Hunters with experience are aware that a golden retriever is a safe bet. One of the top hunting dog breeds, these active canines were bred for hunting experiences. You may see a retriever spring into activity and begin chasing birds or nearby animals as soon as you let them off the leash. These devoted canines have a killing instinct that may be activated when necessary, despite having golden hair and a pleasant face that may not immediately signal danger. Here are the steps on how to train your golden Retriever to hunt.

✔️Beginning Method

Attend group obedience training with your Golden Retriever. When taught in a group, dogs are more likely to recall the beneficial orders since social pressure also affects them. Also, it will facilitate your pet’s socialization with canines. Be interactive with your dog. Playing fetching games using decoy toys is quite advantageous since it will help acquaint your dog with potential prey. Also, it will strengthen the impulse your Retriever has to bring you prey.

Expose your Golden Retriever to the area it will hunt in. Take your canine companion to the potential hunting grounds with a leash. Only allow the dog to go wild and ensure they are moderately enthusiastic. It would be best if you took your pet on quiet walks so that they may get used to the sights and noises they will encounter.

Employ a system of rewards. It should be praised every time your dog complies with your instructions, particularly while pursuing prey. Whether you choose kind words, a pat on the back or a sweet reward is up to you. Never discipline your dog; doing so might lead to discouragement and eventual surrender. Techniques for punishing your Retriever may turn them hostile and even deadly.

✔️Smell Method

Each day, spend a few minutes playing with a decoy toy. Play with your dog while sprinkling a fragrance on the fake toy. For at least a few minutes each day, play tug of war and retrieve with your dog to prevent decoy play from getting them all worked up at the sight of a toy. Participate in a game of hiding. It’s time to start training your dog to smell out the decoy after they become “connected” to it.

Take the scented toy outside into the yard, spread it all over the surface, and then bury it. Make a path for your Golden Retriever to follow. Take your potential hunting companion to the start of the route they should follow while holding a leash. Steer it by pointing or speaking; if it wanders off, gently yank it back and nudge it to keep going appropriately. Treat your dog. Your dog should be rewarded appropriately when finding the decoy after the path.

Give them their preferred reward, play with them, and compliment them. Every time, make the “game” tougher. Every game must challenge the player to keep it interesting to play. As a result, attempt to make each new smell trail you create tougher than the previous one. Once your Retriever can independently detect the prey wherever it is, add fresh diversions. Remember the prize, too.

✔️Watch and Learn Method

Bring the prey to your Golden Retriever’s notice. Your dog behaves in the same way as a monkey would. Golden retrievers mimic the activities and responses of their owners under certain circumstances. Hence, if you show signs of excitement whenever you are near the prey, your dog will too. Act as if you are on the prowl, and when you find the prey, do whatever it takes to get your pet’s attention. You have a choice as to whether to point or whisper.

Attack the prayer. When you are certain your dog is focused, charge toward the prey while exuding as much excitement as possible. Again, it is entirely up to you whether you yell or wave your arms. Reward them as soon as your furry buddy joins you in your activity. Reward your dog as soon as it begins rushing at the prey! Every time, do it. Maintain your excitement as long as necessary! Your golden Retriever will lose attention if you do.

Hence, keep it hidden from your dog, even if you are weary or bored! The best action is to pursue the prey every moment you see this until your dog develops a pattern for doing the same. Perfect your golden Retriever’s hunting skills. You’ll be able to rest once your dog begins pursuing the prey before you do. Your pet will only succeed sometimes, of course, but you should still give them a treat. The time is now for the Retriever to develop his hunting skills and become the ideal hunting partner.

What Qualifies Golden Retrievers as Hunting Dogs?

how to train a golden retriever to hunt

Every breed’s traits will decide whether or not it is suitable for certain activities, including hunting. When deciding if your pup is appropriate for hunting, there are several things to consider. Let’s investigate what makes Golden Retrievers the best choice:

🐕They Love People.

Golden retrievers like being around people & meeting new individuals. They exhibit unconditional devotion and a desire to please their owners, making it simple to teach them to hunt. They will go to any length to please their master.

🐕They are motivated.

These devoted canines are driven. They have a prey drive, which explains the thrill of hunting and capturing a bird, and they’re always up for a challenge. Consider duck hunting: they become passionate about catching that bird to delight their owner.

🐕They are knowledgeable.

One of the brightest and most intelligent breeds of dogs is the Retriever. Studies have shown that they can learn the definitions of up to 250 words. They must comprehend, know, and desire what they’re doing while hunting and training to hunt, whether entering icy waters or following the owner’s instructions. Hunting is their most inherent talent, after all. Working on enhancing and growing that expertise is one option. We shall talk about this in part after this.

Golden Retriever: The Hunting Dogs

The golden Retriever is a beloved family pet for a good reason. It is intelligent, patient, & eager to please. But, they are as effective in the field thanks to the same characteristics that make them great companions. Because of their water-resistant topcoats and thick, rich undercoats, they can wade into chilly water to recover a hunter’s birds. Many hunters discover that golden retrievers are particularly intuitive for the work at hand due to their agility and inherent desire to please people.

Golden retrievers were known for their hunting prowess in 1904, but they only started to become well-known as hunting dogs in the late nineteenth century. Golden retrievers are excellent working dogs, according to the American Kennel Club, and they often place first in athletic event contests. In other words, this witty, gregarious breed excels in both the sea and on land. Goldens are among the most popular breeds, which makes sense.

Are Golden Retrievers Excellent for Bird Hunting?

how to train a golden retriever to hunt

The golden Retriever was developed for hunting, and even today’s retrievers still exhibit the characteristics of their predecessors. Golden retrievers are renowned for being smart, people-pleasers, and quick learners of new skills. Most significantly, they don’t fear guns, making them the perfect hunting partner for birds. When you take your golden Retriever on a hunt, make sure to keep in mind these vital pieces of advice:

🐕Ensure That Your Dog Learns the Fundamentals First.

When you take your puppy on his first hunt, he has to be able to understand and obey even the most fundamental of orders. While Golden Retrievers are known for their intelligence and desire to make their owners happy, this does not imply that you should skip the early training sessions. When your dog has shown that it can follow orders such as “sit,” “stay,” and “drop it,” you should only go on to the next level of training.

🐕Exposure at An Early Age is Important

Although many golden retrievers naturally seek out water, this is only sometimes the case. Never push your puppy into the water; instead, take her swimming in a tiny pool and ensure she loves her bath. Young pups may be more opposed to the water than adult dogs, but with time and compassion, you may assist your dog in getting over her phobia. Please don’t be hesitant to go swimming with her. She’ll be more inclined to favorably identify water with play once she observes you having fun.

🐕Teach Your Dog That Weapons Are Not a Threat.

Just like puppies need some time to acclimate to the water, being around weapons also requires some time. Yet, you must never rush your dog’s training. Instead, let them view your gun and expose them to recordings of firing. (Please make sure the gun is empty.

Loaded weapons and clumsy, maybe scared pups are a terrible mix.) You can take your puppy out for target practice after they’ve become used to the loud sounds and the presence of guns. It would be best to shield dogs’ ears from repetitive firing since they have delicate hearing.

🐕Take a Little Break First.

Your pet is housebroken, loves the water, and doesn’t run away from gunshots. It implies that they are prepared to accompany you on a hunt. Wait a minute. Taking your dog out on your boat throughout the hunting season would be best. Make sure your dog is willing to comply with your commands to enter and exit the water and give her time to become used to sitting next to you on the deck.

Proper Caring of Golden Retriever Hunting Dog

Golden retrievers are friendly and devoted canines often utilized as hunting partners. For them to remain healthy and happy, proper care is necessary. The following advice is for taking care of a Golden Retriever hunting dog:

🐶Provide a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is crucial for your dog’s well-being. Depending on your Golden Retriever’s age, weight, & activity level, please consult your veterinarian to decide the correct kind and quantity of food for them.

🐶Regular Exercise

Due to their high activity level, golden retrievers need frequent exercise to be healthy. Physical exercise and mental stimulation may be maintained for dogs via regular walks, runs, & games with you or other dogs.


A Golden Retriever’s health depends on regular grooming. To keep their coat clean and free of debris, brush them often. Bathing should only be done when necessary since it might dry their skin. Regularly wash their teeth, clean their ears, and trim their nails.

🐶Socialization and Training

The psychological well-being of a Golden Retriever depends on training and socializing. Put your dog in obedience training to teach them the fundamental instructions, and expose them to different people and environments to help them learn appropriate conduct and social skills.

🐶Regular Visits to The Vet

To preserve your Golden Retriever’s health, regular vet visits are essential. Make appointments with your veterinarian for yearly checkups, immunizations, and parasite control.

🐶Appropriate Housing

Due to their gregarious nature, Golden Retrievers shouldn’t be left outdoors for extended periods. Provide your dog with a pleasant indoor resting area, clean surroundings, and access to fresh water. By adhering to these recommendations, you may contribute to the long-term health and happiness of your Golden Retriever hunting dog.

Golden Retriever Training for the Field

Golden retrievers need one to two years of field training and preparation. The goal of training is to create a dog that can remain calm in the presence of its handler while fired at, up to the point at which it recovers dead or injured wildlife from the water or land and delicately carry it to the handler. While some people employ retrievers in beating lines or for hard shooting, retrievers do not need to quarter ahead to hunt and flush live game as spaniels do.

At least six months, and sometimes much more, pass before Golden Retrievers get formal training. Initially, emphasis is placed on obeying directions, being steady and walking to heel, single-marked and memory retrieving, and hunting in a constrained space. After the fundamentals of control and competence have been established, more challenging dummy training is introduced, including retrievals in the presence of impediments like water, gunfire, and multiple or blind retrieves.

When these abilities have been learned, a transitional time of training with a cold game is necessary before the initial exposure to the field. A young dog may spend the first ever season standing up during drives and walking to heels while other dogs on retrieves, with the reward of a few birds at the end of each day.

During the procedure, the focus is on learning new abilities incrementally to promote success, simplifying, and going back as required. The golden retriever breed is sensitive & prone to stubbornness when handled harshly. Thus it is never advisable to use force or compulsion.

Golden Retriever Working Tests

Attending certain game & country fairs, where you can see demonstrations, speak to breed authorities, and participate in scurries, is beneficial if you’d want to learn more about the activities that Golden Retrievers are capable of.

Golden Retriever clubs and gundog organizations organize retriever gundog working tests (GWTs) during the off-season to advance excellent gundog work without a live game. Puppy, beginner, and open categories for GWTs, and each club’s website posts its entry requirements.

Three or four tests model different shooting situations that call for single and double retrieval, blind retrieves, hunting in a specific area, and walking-up retrieves and retrieves in it or near water. Judges assess the dogs’ abilities to locate the game, giving points for swift pick-ups and returns, nose, marking prowess, calm handling, control, drive, and flair.

Golden Retriever Field Trials

Field trials for retrievers have become very popular over the past few years and are often overcrowded. The pressure is on not to replace someone else since they are both professional and amateur handlers who want to train their dogs to become field trial champions & qualify for the yearly IGL Retriever Championship. Despite this, it is still predominantly an amateur sport accessible to anybody prepared to put in the necessary effort.

Most trials use a four-judge method, in which pairs of judges rank the participants’ performances from best to worst. Dogs in the first round are often given two retrieves apiece. They are subject to discarding for various infractions, including racing in, pursuing, whining, or getting their eyes cleaned by the judges or another competitor.

When a couple of the top dogs are left, the remaining dogs are called up for further rounds, at which point the judges certify the final placings with such a run-off, often working together in the middle of the line.

Golden Retriever Physical Features

The amiable nature and intellect of the medium- to large-sized dog breed known as the Golden Retriever. They have the following physical features:

👉They are Faster

Golden retrievers are athletic, energetic dogs that like running. They were developed as quick runners. While not the quickest breed, dogs are still faster than humans and may be a wonderful exercise partner, leaving you completely spent after a short time. They are adept at both long-distance events and sprints, albeit the speed they can achieve varies on the distances they run. The fastest adult retrievers can travel up to 30 to 35 mph. Younger animals may go up to 20–25 mph.

👉They are Built Strongly.

Because of their fluffiness and cuddliness, Golden Retrievers may deceive you into believing that they are weaker than they are. The bodies of golden retrievers are robust, well-developed, and muscular. They have robust backs and large heads. Since they often worked all day in incredibly difficult circumstances, they were naturally powerful.

👉They Can Swim Excellently.

These are total water, babes! They are outstanding swimmers because of their powerful, musculature bodies and athletic endurance. They were raised to be proficient swimmers, just as they were for sprinting since such abilities were required for retrieving ducks.

👉They have High Jumps.

The finest jumpers are Retrievers between the ages of 2 and 6. They are often capable of jumping 4-6 feet in the air. It’s astounding that they can accomplish that without needing any run-up area. They often leap to express their love and compassion to others.

👉They Have an Excellent Sense of Smell.

The distinctive nose that distinguishes golden retrievers is something that they get from birth. It is far more potent than a person’s scent. They utilized it to locate and recover birds back then. They now use their talent to smell people, food, and other airborne odors, such as allergens.

👉They are Waterproof

Next, let’s consider the coat of the Retriever and how it helped it adapt to varied environments and the harsh Scottish climate. The ideal coat is solid, somewhat long, and straight or wavy. The strong and thick undercoat of the Retrievers shields them from harm. The undercoat supports the lengthier topcoat, allowing it to rest flat against the body. The dog is “waterproof” as a result.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should the training be conducted?

Any canine education must be consistent, particularly when teaching retrieval skills. So, you should devote at least one hour to teaching your dog. But if you see significant development, lengthen the period accordingly. Always take rests between workouts to maintain concentration and focus.

What kind of game do golden retrievers hunt best?

The medium-to-large size of the Golden and his propensity for the water gave hunters a dog that could excel with both upland game & waterfowl.

How is a golden retriever trained to catch?

While you don’t want to toss a toy that could strike your dog in the face and discourage him from catching it ever again, it is preferable to start by training your dog to catch goodies. Your dog should be seated around two feet forward from you. Make sure he is staring at the reward you hold as you gently throw it in his direction.

Is it simple to teach a golden retriever?

Golden retrievers are known for having sharp minds and a desire to please. They are among the simpler breeds to teach and have rapid learning curves. But, dog breed owners claim it will require time and patience.

Is it possible to train a Golden Retriever to defend?

Training is easier than some think since Golden Retrievers already have many traits you seek in a guard dog. The first step is to reward every kind of behavior they will need to exhibit to serve as a security dog. Boundary training will therefore need to be a part of his routine.

Final Thoughts

Although hunting dogs, golden retrievers are not prey-focused. They serve the same function as a retriever in a hunt: to bring in the game after it has been taken down. Goldens bred specifically for this use are often taught from an early age to perform at a greater degree of success. No matter what, every young Golden Retriever can be taught to utilize their breed heritage and instinct to be a good hunting partner. Do you want to know when do golden retrievers mature? Click Here!

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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