We consulted a couple of the top retriever trainers in Arkansas on the most common mistakes do-it-yourself owners/trainers make when working with their duck dogs.

Eddie Carter, Caney Creek Kennel

  • Dogs are pack animals. They CANNOT be treated like kids. You have to be in charge or the pup will take over.
  • The two most important things to teach a pup are: come when called and come directly back on a retrieve. These are the easiest things to teach a pup and most people mess it up.
  • When selecting a book to train by, remember this: Most authors are not good dog trainers and most good dog trainers are not good authors.
  • When you start your pup’s formal training at age six months or later, the pup must be confined to a kennel. Only get the pup out of the kennel to work and always under control. This makes the pup excited about work and he will learn much faster.
  • Don’t take a young dog on an organized dove hunt. There are too many distractions and you are setting yourself up for failure.

Todd Brittain, Black Dog Training Kennels

  • Too Much Training: Keep it short and sweet and always quit before the pup does.
  •  Too Much Obedience: You want a “go-getter” not a “stay-sitter.” Keep training fun and make it a game.
  • Too Much Too Soon: Just because you can get your pup to do something — sit, stay, doubles, whistles, etc. — when he is young doesn’t make him a “better dog.” He will burn out long before you can finish the training.


  • Too Much Going On: Too many people and too many distractions are too much for a young dog’s mind.
  • Too Much Help: Don’t let your “know-it-all” buddies ruin your dog. Train without an audience — “the good stuff” is all “one-on-one.”