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Field And Hunting Trials For Your LabSince the Labrador Retriever is primarily a sporting dog, this fact should not be lost sight of by breeders who might only be interested in raising Labradors that look like Labradors regardless of how they act.
Field Trial training is a very complicated and specialized subject. The Labrador Club requires that any member having a dog that has completed his ARC Championship may not use that title until he has passed a working test. Unfortunately the Club has in the past made it very difficult for the average person to manage the testing, which in itself is very easy, and most Labradors could pass it with practically no training.
The dog does not need to be steady but can be held on a line until sent by the judge. He must retrieve to hand a pheasant and enter the water twice to retrieve dead or shackled ducks. He must not be gun-shy, which is perhaps the hardest thing for an amateur to teach his dog. Any dog first exposed to gunfire while near the gun may become forever gun-shy. A dog's hearing is very much more acute than that of a human being, and introduction to any loud sharp sound such as a gunshot should be done with extreme caution.
Introduction to sounds of percussion should begin when a puppy is quite small by making noises such as banging on a metal feed dish or even starting with hand clapping while the puppy is eating. Any accustoming to loud sound should be done while the puppy is concentrating on other things, such as food, or while excited at entering the water to retrieve a duck. The gun should be kept a long distance away at first and gradually moved closer until the dog seems to pay no attention to it except to connect the sound with something interesting. It would be wise to have an experienced person help in introducing your dog to gunshots because it is not as simple as many would believe and can cause irreversible gun-shyness if done in the wrong way.
Most show-type Labradors will make excellent hunting dogs if handled by a person who understands training. A Labrador owner who sends his dog to a professional for training as a hunter and never handles him until the season opens, blames poor training on his lack of success. But the fact is that it is his own fault in not learning the proper signals in the control of his dog. The dog is willing and understands the problem but is unable to understand what his owner is trying to tell him and the result is utter confusion, and loss of temper on the part of the owner.
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