Hunting Dog Training Tip – Intro to Retrieves

When we take in a young puppy at 8-10 weeks old, or after we wean one of our own pups, we give the pup a few days to get settled into the new surroundings. Usually we sit with the pup, walk around letting it smell and roam in this new area and away from it’s mother. We do not put them together with any of our older dogs, but they naturally sniff on each other through the 2×4″ paneling. Once the pup is settled and becomes playful and is excited once you are around, we take the pup out by itself and introduce it to retrieval training.

We hear it time and time again from folks, “my pup is so smart he/she is 8 weeks old and I’ve already taught it to sit.” That’s good, but will it retrieve? You can teach any dog to sit within a day, so let’s focus on more important foundational drills that will help your dog become a hunting dog.

In our Started Dog and Finished Water Dog programs we begin at “intro to retrieves”. We begin pups from 8-15 weeks old, and will sit and throw a sock with knots tied in it, small bumpers or bird wings. These retrieves are not far, about 5-10 feet, because a pup’s eyes aren’t fully developed until around 16 weeks. The other reason is, we want them to return to us and not run off chewing on it so we keep them in range where you can grab them if they try. Some pups are best in a hallway or kennel run, where they can’t run off. The simple fact is, we are just trying to make this a huge game for them, and the only obedience we want is for them to return to us. Their reward for doing so is another toss and retrieve, no treats are given it is simply praise. Praise is the reward. We stay in these “intro to retrieve” drills from small hand tossed bumpers, to water, gunfire, and Versa Launcher drills until the pups are 20-22 weeks old. At this point, their baby teeth start to fall out and we see blood on the bumpers, or them not wanting to pick up the bumper. When this happens, we move into basic obedience training allowing their mouths to heal for the next few months.

We currently have two pups that have started their .22 gunfire drills at 15 weeks old. These pups, one who we call Ben, is a black male, and in our Started Dog program will be completed in late January/early February 2023, and is currently for sale. For more information on Ben contact,

Captain Nathan Beabout

Cell:(210) 452-9680

N&M Sportsman’s Adventures

AB Kennels

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Captain Nathan Beabout has guided fishing trips and duck hunting trips on the Middle Texas ​Coast since 2007. He has fine tuned his fishing and hunting skills, and adapted to all skill levels of customers for a successful trip. Spending many days on the water every year, his knowledge and skills of fishing from San Antonio Bay to Cedar Bayou and Port Mansfield areas, has developed and can lead you to a memorable trip. Call Capt. Nathan at (210) 452-9680

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