Gun Dog Training requires a commitment of at least 14 weeks to produce a quality Started Gun Dog. Big Sky Dog Training specializes in training retrievers for both waterfowl and upland hunting. Marty believes that each dog deserves individual attention both in the yard and out in the field. Because of this, he will only train a maximum of 10 Gun Dogs at any given time. Your dog must be at least 6 months of age to enroll in the program.

Beginner Gun Dog Program   (14 weeks)   

1st Stage  

    The core of any skilled gun dog is Basic Obedience.  Whether you have an average dog or you believe they are naturally gifted.  A solid foundation of obedience will help develop stronger concentration, which leads to faster learning, and in turn produces a more accurate hunter.   With that said, we begin this program by teaching the “Here”, “Heel”, “Sit” (sit stay), “Place", “Off” (No Jumping up), “Wait”, “Kennel”, and “Leave it”.   Your dog will also be properly conditioned to gun fire, an E- Collar, and exposed to real birds.

2nd Stage  

    Marty will focus on teaching your dog the trained retrieve (Force Fetch).  He or she will be shown how to properly deliver birds to hand.  This stage of training is crucial in eliminating bad habits such as chewing, hard mouthing, refusal to retrieve, and prematurely dropping birds at the bank or outside your blind.  By teaching this very important skill your dog will truly understand how to carry dead or live birds and return them to you quickly and unharmed.  

3rd Stage 

    This is the last stage of training at which your dog will learn to put it all together. These final weeks will refine his or her ability to stay steady to gunshot, navigate through decoys and mark single retrieves. Your dog will work on the skills necessary to recover birds at distances of at least 120 yards on land and in water through various scenarios and terrain changes. Your dog will not only be a great hunting companion but will have the requirements to participate in an AKC junior level or HRC Started hunt test. 



Advanced Retriever Training  (16 weeks)    
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​    ​ ​If your dog graduated from the beginner program then this is the next step.  This program will teach your dog the skills that are necessary to recover multiple marks and blind retrieves.   Your dog will be taught how to use his/her memory to retrieve doubles and diversion birds along with honoring another dog while it retrieves. We will also run them through many handling exercises that include Sitting on a whistle, Pile work, SingleT, Swim By, Patterned blinds and eventually transitioning into Cold blinds. When your dog has completed this stage of training it will not only be a smarter and more useful Gun Dog, but will have the requirements to participate in an HRC Seasoned hunt test.


Expert Retriever Training: (5-6 months)   

 This program is designed for the Top Guns of Retrievers who were skilled enough to complete the beginner and advanced training programs at BSDT.  It requires dogs with consistent experience and strong drive. Your dog will be taught how to refine it’s handling to precision levels as well as retrieve triples and quad combinations that will include tricky and delayed combos. They will be trained to deal with the challenges of poison birds and cheating singles.  If your dog has the right stuff to graduate from this program he will not only impress the waders off your huntin’ buddies; but be able to participate in an HRC Finished test.

*** Every dog is different and learns at its own pace. Because of this fact all time frames listed can vary.  Owners are encouraged to visit while they are in our care to check on their dog’s progress.  If at any point you are unhappy with your dog’s progress you can pull him/her from the program.***

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