How to Train a Golden Retriever to Hunt

Hard
1-6 Months
Work

Introduction

Marley leaps into action as soon as you let them off the leash. All you catch is a glimpse of golden fur as he dashes between bushes, trees, and any other poor object that’s in the way. Yes, your Golden retriever loves to chase birds, rabbits, and other animals. You love his energy and the indication that he may have a killer instinct. After all, you spend many an early morning stealthily maneuvering through fields with a rifle slung over your shoulder. Hunting has always been a favorite past time. But now you’d like to improve your results and you think you know just how to do so.

Training your Golden retriever to hunt would give you a formidable hunting companion. Marley could help you track and capture prey. It’s also a fantastic way to bond with your canine buddy. Not to mention, this sort of training will teach him a range of useful commands.

Defining Tasks

Training a Golden retriever to hunt is no easy feat. It will require discipline and will-power on both your parts. From as early an age as possible, you will need to familiarise Marley with his future prey. You will also need to naturally develop the hunting skills he needs if he is to be an effective hunter. 

To do all this, you will need to use the right incentive. Fortunately, like most dogs, Golden retrievers have a soft spot for anything they can eat. So positive reinforcements will play an important role.

If Marley is just a puppy, then he should be eager to please and a fast learner. This means you could see results in just a month or two. But if your Golden retriever is older, stubborn and not such a great listener, then you may need several months. Stick with training and hopefully the days of returning home empty-handed will be over.

Getting Started

Before you and your Golden retriever can get to work, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things. You’ll need some decoy toys and scent spray. You will also need a generous supply of tasty treats or his favorite food broken into small pieces.

The other main component is time. Set aside around fifteen minutes each day for training. Bear in mind, the more frequently you train, the sooner you may see results. You’ll need a large yard, local fields, or your dog's future hunting environment to practice in. 

Once you have all those boxes ticked, just bring patience and enthusiasm, then work can begin!

The Early Start Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Obedience classes
The first thing to do is take your Golden retriever to group obedience classes. This is a great place for him to pick up useful commands he will need later on, such as ‘wait’ and ‘down’. It will also socialize him with other pets, as you don’t want Marley to become overly aggressive.
Step
2
Games
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war and fetch with decoy toys. Firstly, this will get your dog familiar with their future prey. Secondly, it will help naturally develop the skills he will need later on when he's bringing down prey.
Step
3
Hunting environment
Secure your Golden retriever to a leash and take him out into his future hunting environment. Get him used to quietly walking through fields. You also want to get him used to the sounds and sights he will experience. For example, you don’t want him bolting if he hears a gunshot.
Step
4
Reward
Make sure you always reward Marley when he does chase prey. Hand over a tasty treat, play with a toy and give him some verbal praise. Reward him even if he doesn’t catch anything to start. If you don’t, he may quickly give up trying.
Step
5
Don’t use punishment
Avoid using punishment techniques to train your Golden retriever to hunt. This may make him aggressive and potentially dangerous. Instead, focus on positive reinforcements. This is the most effective way to teach Marley.
Recommend training method?

The Watch & Learn Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Draw attention
This method is built around the idea that Golden retrievers learn from their owners. You will soon realise Marley will mirror some of your behaviour and look to you to see how to react in situations. So it’s your job to get him worked up by his prey. Start with regularly going out looking for it. Then when you do see it, point, whisper and do everything you can to draw his attention.
Step
2
Charge
As soon as he has caught on, you need to take it to the next level. Run towards the prey with your arms outstretched, shouting as you go. You may look bizarre, but if Marley sees you constantly getting animated by the prey, he soon will too.
Step
3
Reward
When he does run after the prey with you, make sure he gets a decent reward. This could be his favorite food or playing around with a toy. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click. Do this every time he gives chase.
Step
4
Consistency
The hard part of this technique is consistency on your part. It may be tiring, but you need to draw his attention and give chase every time you see the prey until he starts doing it of his own accord. As soon as you lose interest, he may as well. So stay strong and stick with it.
Step
5
Let them learn
Once he starts chasing prey without you prompting him, you can relax and stay put. However, you do need to be patient. Your Golden retriever won’t be successful every time to begin with. But that’s fine, give him time to fine-tune his hunting technique. He will learn quickly, just be there to reward him at the end.
Recommend training method?

The Scent Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Decoy play
Spray the decoy toy in scent spray and then play around at home for a few minutes each day. Play tug of war, talk in a high-pitched voice and get him as animated as possible by the toy. You can also leave them in Marley’s bed over night. You want him jumping up and down at the mere sight of them.
Step
2
Setting up
Now head out into your yard with the decoy and spray. Wipe the scent-covered decoy along the ground and around your yard. Then hide it somewhere at the end. You’re going to teach Marley to sniff out his future prey.
Step
3
Start line
Secure your Golden retriever to a leash and take him to the beginning of the trail. Point, whisper, and encourage him to follow the trail. If he gets distracted, gently pull him back and encourage him again.
Step
4
Reward
Make sure Marley gets to the end of the trail and finds the decoy. It’s important your Golden retriever learns that there is always something waiting for him at the end if he perseveres. Once he has found it, spend a minute or two playing around as a reward and giving him praise.
Step
5
Mix it up
Now you simply need to make scent trails a few times a week. However, gradually make them harder and further apart. When Marley gets good, start making them in fields nearby too where there are more distractions. Keep creating trails until your Golden retriever starts sniffing out prey on his own. At which point, just be ready to give him a reward when he returns. You want to ensure it always feels like a game to him.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd