Gundogs have been bred for centuries for their ability to assist hunters in locating and retrieving game. These highly skilled dogs come in various breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Spaniels. Gundogs play a crucial role in hunting, as they are trained to locate and retrieve game that hunters have shot down. A successful gundog must have a range of skills, that may include scenting, pointing, flushing, and retrieving. Retrieving, in particular, is an essential skill that all gundogs must possess to be effective in the field. In this week’s podcast and blog post, we’ll explore the different types of retrieves that gundogs can be trained to perform and offer tips for training and maintaining your gundog’s retrieving skills.

Types of Retrieves

There are several types of retrieves that gundogs can be trained to perform, including retrieving from land, water, and other challenging environments. Retrieving from land involves a gundog running out and bringing back a dummy or game that has been shot and fallen on the land. Retrieving from water is similar, except that the dummy or game has fallen in a body of water, and the gundog must swim out to retrieve it. Gundogs may also be trained to retrieve from other challenging environments, such as dense underbrush or high cover. Proper handling techniques are essential when training for these types of retrieves.

Teaching your gundog to retrieve from different environments is an important part of their training if you want them to retrieve on command. Each environment presents unique challenges that your gundog must learn to overcome. For example, water retrieves require your gundog to be comfortable swimming and have the strength to swim different distances. On the other hand, land retrieves may require your gundog to navigate through dense vegetation or rough terrain. Proper training and conditioning are key to ensuring your gundog can perform these retrieves effectively.

Basic Retrieves

Basic retrieves are the foundation of a gundog’s training. These retrieves may include commands such as “get out” and “hold.” Consistent training and positive reinforcement are crucial when teaching these basic retrieves. To start, you’ll want to choose a specific command and stick to it. For example, if you choose to use “get out” for retrieving a dummy or bird, make sure to use that command consistently throughout training.

When training your gundog to retrieve from land or water, it’s essential to start with short distances and gradually increase the distance as your gundog becomes more comfortable and proficient. Using positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, is an effective way to motivate your gundog and reinforce good behaviour.

Advanced Retrieves

Advanced retrieves require more complex training and often involve blind retrieves and memory retrieves. A blind retrieve is when a gundog is asked to retrieve an object or game that they have not seen fall. This type of retrieve requires your gundog to rely on your commands and guidance to locate and retrieve the game. Memory retrieves, on the other hand, require your gundog to remember the location of the game and retrieve it on command.

To train your gundog for advanced retrieves, you can use drills and scenarios that simulate real hunting situations. It’s important to use hand signals and vocal cues to guide your gundog to the game’s location. Consistency and repetition are key when training for advanced retrieves, and it may take several training sessions for your gundog to master these skills.

Retrieving Game

Gundogs can be trained to retrieve various types of game, such as birds and small mammals. To train for each type of game, different techniques and methods must be used. For example, for bird retrieving, your gundog must be trained to use its sense of smell to locate the bird and retrieve it gently without causing any damage.

Scent training is a crucial part of training your gundog to retrieve the game. You can use scented dummies or birds during training sessions to help your gundog develop their sense of smell and learn to follow a specific scent. It’s also important to use controlled introductions when training your gundog to retrieve live games, to ensure their safety and that of the game.

Maintaining consistency in training and practising ethical hunting practices are essential when it comes to retrieving game. Remember always to obey hunting laws and regulations and ensure that your gundog is trained to retrieve game safely and efficiently.

Factors that Affect Retrieving

Several factors can affect a gundog’s ability to retrieve, such as weather, terrain, and distractions. It’s essential to adjust your training based on these factors and provide your gundog with the necessary tools and techniques to overcome them.

Weather conditions such as rain, snow, or extreme heat can impact a gundog’s scenting ability and make retrieving more challenging. In these situations, using decoys or scenting aids can be helpful. Training your gundog to retrieve in various types of terrain is also crucial to prepare them for different hunting environments. For example, if you plan to hunt in heavily wooded areas, it’s important to train your gundog to retrieve through dense underbrush.

Distractions such as other animals, sounds, or smells can also impact your gundog’s ability to retrieve. To address this, you can use environmental training techniques that help your gundog learn to focus on the task at hand and ignore distractions.

Maintaining consistency in training and adapting to new situations is essential when it comes to retrieving. Practising in various environments and scenarios will help your gundog develop the necessary skills to retrieve effectively in any situation.


In conclusion, retrieving is a crucial skill that all gundogs must possess to be effective in the field. Gundogs can be trained to perform different types of retrieves, from basic retrieves to more complex ones like blind retrieves and memory retrieves. It’s important to start with basic retrieves and gradually progress to more advanced ones. Scent training, proper handling techniques, and positive reinforcement are all crucial when training your gundog to retrieve.

Retrieving game also requires specialized training, with different techniques used for different types of game. Practising safety and ethical hunting practices is essential when retrieving game. Various factors, such as weather, terrain, and distractions, can impact your gundog’s ability to retrieve, so it’s important to adjust your training accordingly.

Finally, maintaining consistency in training and adapting to new situations are essential for developing and maintaining your gundog’s retrieving skills. Remember to be patient and use positive reinforcement throughout your training journey.

We hope this blog post has provided valuable insights into the world of gundog retrieving and has offered helpful tips for training and maintaining retrieving skills in your gundog. Don’t forget to share your own experiences and training techniques with the community.

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