DULUTH, Minn. â When it comes to hunting, every hunter hopes to achieve the best retriever in manâs best friend.
However, itâs not always easy to teach the fundamentals of retrieving.
âThey donât come out of the box ready to go,â said Mark Helmer, President of the Duluth Retriever Club.
Practice and patience are just two of the skills trainers must strive for before getting started.
âOur mission is to train dogs for the retrieval of game,â said Helmer.
You may think itâs a simple process, but to Helmer itâs more than fun and games.
âWe need to work with the dog to make sure they understand what we expect, and that starts at a very young age,â said Helmer.
From retriever to pointer breeds, Helmer says the animals âmakeâ and âmodelâ means nothing when it comes to training a good gun dog.
âThere are many breeds of dogs that will look at the bird and say, thatâs just a bird,â said Helmer.Â âActually everything we teach a dog goes against their instinct.â
Since the mid 1940s training along with community engagement has been the direct target of the Duluth Retriever Club.
âBy the time a dog is seven months old, they should have their performance commands which is another way of stating your obedience commands,â said Helmer.
Ahead of this goal, puppies should begin basic skill work around six months old. In the first few months, Helmer says itâs important to teach these three commands: sit, hear and heel.
âIf you can do those three things reliably by age six to seven months, you have a foundation built to having a good dog in the field,â said Helmer.
âPart of our mission is education and working with young people,â said Dick Adams, Secretary of the Duluth Retriever Club.
Aside from teaching dogs at a young age, Adams says a major part of todayâs mission is getting youth involved in the club.
âIf youâre new to being a dog trainer then we have people that can help. We have a lot of people in our club that are very experienced,â said Adams.
Years of knowledge and real life advice serving as the base for future generations at this outdoor organization in the Northland.
âIf the handler is willing to spend the time and effort and educate him on the proper instruction of a dog, most dogs will become satisfactory hunters, assuming you have some basic ingredients to work with,â said Helmer.
The Duluth Retriever Club operates primarily from May through September.
This coming spring, youâre invited to sign up for their âTrain the Trainerâ program.
If youâd like to contact the club, click here.