Field Events and Training Resources

From the Field Library

The following are books, magazines, and DVDs which have all been recommended by individuals who are involved in field work with their dogs—hunt tests as well as field trials. Purchasing information will be included at the end of each section.

Retriever Puppy Training: The Right Start for Hunting by Loveland and Rutherford. Alpine Publication This book is highly recommended and is considered a classic. It is a soft cover book that takes readers from puppy selection up through the first year of training your pup for the field.

Retriever Working Certificate Training by Rutherford, Branstad and Whicker This is an excellent book for preparing and training a dog and handler for the WC Program. Although aimed at the GRCA program, it still has immense value for those interested in putting a WC on their Lab.

Training Retrievers for Marsh and Meadows by James Spencer This is a non-collar approach to dog training. Written in Spencer’s usual easily read manner, this is a very good book for entry level trainers. It is written with the amateur trainer in mind.

Retriever Training Tests by James Spencer This book will help you improve your dog’s performance in the field. It is valuable for hunting and hunt tests; for Working Certificate tests; and for field trials. It features diagrams of training tests with explanations of significant environmental factors – wind, terrain and cover.

Motivational Training for the Field by Lorie C. Jolly This book is a positive training approach for a well-trained field dog. It gives you the tools to attain field titles using positive reinforcement.

The 10 Minute Retriever by John and Amy Dahl This details how to make an obedient and enthusiastic gun dog in daily ten minute training sessions.

The Working Retrievers by Tom Quinn This is a classic; a very well done book covering the training and care of your retriever. The paintings/drawings alone are worth the price of the book.

Smart Fetch by Evan Graham This book examines the history of force fetching dogs, its goal and purpose while laying a solid foundation for a fully trained dog. All obedience issues associated with it are full explained, plus all phases of the program, from the teaching of “hold” all the way to “water forcing”. This book is very complete in its discussion and instruction for doing it yourself.

Smartwork for Retrievers Series by Evan Graham Volume I and II — basic & transition. This contains detailed easy to follow instructions for retriever training, from puppies through basics and into early-to-mid transition. Illustrated by the author, this unique training text is designed for your use. A comprehensive Glossary of Terms helps you to get acquainted with the language of dog training.

Training with Mike Lardy, Vols: I, II, III by Mike Lardy These are a series of articles written by Mike Lardy, one of the premier dog trainers in the US, compiled from articles done for the Retriever Journal. These articles take you through a training program in a logical and sequential fashion. In addition, there is a series which emphasizes the prevention and treatment of problems that can occur during training and while involved in competition. It is in soft cover. These are an excellent guide to good field training. “Whether you train for hunting, field trials, or hunt tests, you will find it an invaluable aid for understanding and applying the most up-to-date methods of retriever training.”

Finished Dog by Charlie Jurney Many questions are answered in this easily read book. Mr. Jurney lays the groundwork for training a retriever from basics through the finished product. He has solutions for both e-collar and none-collar users. See below for ordering information.

Building A Retriever: Drills & More by Carol Cassity In this, Carol builds on her first book, “Drills for the Retriever Hunt Test Enthusiast”. This soft cover book is good for both entry level dogs as well as for those who are more advanced in field work. It offers drills which can be varied due to the level of the dog from beginner through master hunter level. A great deal of thought and effort has gone into the production of this book.

Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves by James Spencer This is a broad collection of blind retrieving drills. Spencer is aware of the limitations under which most amateurs train. Each drill is diagramed, with a careful explanation of the purpose, prerequisites, necessary equipment, and the pitfalls to avoid.

The following books are of historical value as well as providing supplementary advice:

The History of Retriever Field Trials in America—The Early Years 1931-1941 by Fred Kampo and Carolyn McCreesh This is a fascinating read containing not only the descriptions of the early trials and the dogs that competed in them, but vignettes of those dogs and the handlers and owners. A marvelous collection of photos. 

Training Retrievers: The Cotton Pershall Method by Bobby George, Jr. This is an interesting look into a by-gone era of retriever training. Cotton Pershall was one of the early masters of the venue.

Charles Morgan on Retrievers by Charles Morgan; edited by D. L. Walters This is a very enjoyable look into the past with regard to retriever training. It contains many fascinating vignettes as well as training advice that still has validity.

Training Retrievers to Handle by D. L. Walters The training procedures here have been the foundation for many of the more modern methods used in training for blind retrieves. The program stresses the creation of good habits and the prevention of bad habits. This is very useful for the training of a first class hunting dog. There are many basic training components in this book which benefit more advanced dogs as well.

Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor This paperback book clearly explains the underlying principles of behavioral training. The methods used here can be used in many situations, but they apply extremely well to dog training.


Retrievers Online: This includes articles and information for all levels of field training, including hunting your dog.  It has excellent articles on raising retrievers, training philosophies, chaining, hunt tests, as well as containing a wide variety of articles on training itself. This is highly recommended for the serious field person.

The Retriever Journal: Good for those interested in hunting, hunt test dogs, and more basic training levels.  It has a variety of articles including some on the health of the working dog.

Retriever News: This contains information on field trial and hunt test placements; excellent articles; ratings re field trial dogs; and a variety of information of value to those who compete in field trials and hunt tests. and [email protected]

Gun Dog Magazine: The Retriever Journal is aimed towards the retriever breeds mainly, whereas Gun Dog focuses on all gun dogs, retrievers, flushing breeds, and pointing breeds. The magazine contains excellent training articles and hunting advice for both the beginner and experienced trainers and hunters.

Gray’s Sporting Journal: This magazine, while primarily a hunting magazine, does touch on the art of dog training.  This magazine is more of a source of hunting tips, fine shotguns, and great hunting stories.

DVDs, Videos

Sound Beginnings Retriever Training by Jackie Mertens An excellent DVD which guides you and your puppy through a great start in the field.

The Art & Science of Handling Retrievers by Dave Rorem This is excellent and makes you really hone in on your handling skills and your ability to read your dog.

Total Retriever E-Collar Conditioning with Mike Lardy, Total Retriever Training with Mike Lardy, Total Retriever Marking with Mike Lardy The three of these by Lardy are very well done and walk you through all phases of retriever training.  Mike’s credentials as an outstanding trainer are hard to meet or to beat.

Retriever Training Seminar with Rex Carr & Dave Rorem This is considered an early classic re DVDs.

Training Retrievers Alone with Dennis Voigt  This is of particular value to those of you who train alone or possibly with one other person.  A booklet comes with it which in and of itself is of value.

All of the above can be obtained through or 1-800-595-7965.

Andy Attar on Transition Work  Another well done DVD.  It can be obtained through  

Training a Retriever Puppy with Bill Hillmann This has been highly recommended by many sources.

Training Your Pet with the Electric Collar the “Soft Collar” Method for All Breeds by Bill Hillmann Understanding how to create an electronic signal between you and your dog.

The Fetch Command by Bill Hillmann The complete process for teaching any breed the fetch command.

Traffic Cop by Bill Hillmann Many of the top Labrador trainers recommend this video as an easy and effective method for getting a young puppy started on steadiness.

All DVDs by Bill Hillmann can be purchased through