How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Hunt

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Do you want to learn how to train your golden retriever to hunt?

Goldens were originally bred as hunting dogs over 150 years ago, and although they’re more known companions these days, they still making great companions out in the field,

That is, as long as they’re trained the right right way.

In this post, I’ve got Robert Gate from walking you through how to train your golden retriever to hunt with you.

How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Be A Hunting Dog

by Robert Gate

Experienced hunters know that they cannot go wrong with a golden retriever. These energetic dogs are born for hunting adventures and are one of the best hunting dog breeds

As soon as you let a retriever off the leash, you will see them leap into action and start chasing birds or any other animal in proximity.

Golden fur and a friendly face might not scream danger, but these loyal dogs do have a killer instinct that can be triggered when needed. 

So how can you turn your furry friend into a formidable hunting companion?

How do you train a Golden retriever to hunt at your side? 

Stay tuned to find out!

Why Train Your Golden Retriever to Hunt?

Teaching your golden to hunt is a great way to bond with your furry friend and improve your hunting score. If you succeed, you will have a reliable hunting companion to help you track and capture prey. 

It will most certainly not be an easy task, but proper training will teach your retriever discipline and useful commands. Will-power is a must on both sides. 

When Should You Start Training Them To Hunt?

golden retriever hunting

For the best results, you need to start as early as possible. This way, your dog will have enough time to develop all the hunting skills he or she needs to become an effective hunter (and not develop bad habits that will inhibit them later on).  

Puppies are eager to please and will thus learn much faster than older dogs. And the good news is, even though they’re young, you will notice the initial results in only a couple of months.

What’s The Best Training Method To Teach Them To Hunt?

Like most dogs, golden retrievers will respond best to positive reinforcement. Treats are your best ally here since goldens have a soft spot for food, but also be sure to use lots of praise to let them know when they’re doing the right thing.

What Do You Need To Teach Your Golden Retriever To Hunt?

Here is a list of all the things you will need for successful training:

  • Decoy toys
  • Scent spray
  • Supply of tasty treats 

When (And How Often) Should You Train Your Golden Retriever?

It is best to work with your dog every day for at least fifteen minutes. The more often you train, the sooner you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

As for when to train them, timing doesn’t exactly matter, but your dog needs to be well-rested to be able to concentrate on your commands.

Where Should You Train Your Golden Retriever To Hunt?

It’s ideal to practice in the actual environment your dog will be hunting in.

If you cannot make that happen, at least make sure that there is enough space. If you do not have a large enough yard, find a suitable local field. 

How Do You Train Your Golden Retriever to Hunt?

There are three methods you can try:

  1. Early start method
  2. Scent method
  3. Watch and learn method

Early Start Method

STEP 1: Take your Golden retriever to group obedience classes 

The so-called peer-pressure works on dogs, too, and they are thus more likely to remember the useful commands when trained in groups.

It will also help socialize your furry friend with other dogs.

STEP 2: Play games with your dog

Playing fetching games with decoy toys is highly beneficial since it will help familiarize your dog with its future prey.

It will also enhance your retriever’s natural instinct to bring you the prey. 

STEP 3: Introduce your Golden retriever to its future hunting environment 

Grab a leash and take your canine buddy to the future hunting environment. Make sure the dog is not overly excited and never let him or her run wild.

Quiet walks will be much more beneficial as you want your pet to get acquainted with all the sounds and sights he or she will experience. 

STEP 4: Use a reward system 

Your dog should be rewarded whenever he or she obeys the command, especially when chasing prey.

You can opt for words of praise, pet on the back, or a tasty treat- it is up to you! 

Never punish your dog, or it might become discouraged and give up altogether. Punishment techniques can make your retriever aggressive and even dangerous.

Scent Method

STEP 1: Play with a decoy toy for at least a few minutes every day

Spray the decoy toy with a scent spray and play with your dog.

Decoy play will make your dog all worked up at the very sight of a toy so spend at least a few minutes every day playing tug of war and fetching. 

STEP 2: Move on to a hiding game

When your dog gets “attached” to the decoy, it is time to teach him or her to sniff it out.

Take the scented toy out into the yard, wipe it onto the ground over and across, and then hide it. 

STEP 3: Teach your Golden retriever to follow a trail

Grab a leash and take your future hunting buddy to the beginning of the trail he or she should follow.

Guide him or her by pointing or whispering; if it gets distracted, pull him or her back gently and encourage him or her to continue in the right direction. 

STEP 4: Reward your dog

When your four-legged friend gets to the end of the trail and sniffs out the decoy, he or she should be adequately rewarded.

Praise them, play with them, and give them their favorite treat!

STEP 5: Make the “game” harder every time

Every game needs to challenge the player, or it will soon become too monotonous to play.

Therefore, every time you set up a scent trail, try to make it harder than the one before.

Introduce new distractions until your retriever can sniff out the prey on its own no matter where it is. And don’t forget the reward!

Watch And Learn Method

STEP 1: Draw your golden retriever’s attention to the prey

Monkey does what monkey sees – the same goes for your dog. Golden retrievers mirror their owners’ behavior and reactions in particular situations.

So, if you seem excited every time you are around the prey, your dog will be too. 

Pretend you are looking for the prey and when you spot it do whatever you need to draw your pet’s attention. You can point or whisper – it is up to you!

STEP 2: Charge at the pray

Once you are sure you have your dog’s attention, charge at the prey, looking as excited as possible.

You can shout or wave your arms – once again, it is all up to you!

STEP 3: Reward your furry friend as soon as he or she joins you in what you are doing

As soon as your dog starts charging at the prey too, reward him or her! Do it each and every time.

Keep your enthusiasm for as long as it takes! If you lose interest, your golden will lose it too.

So, even if you are tired or bored – do not let your dog see that! It would be best if you chase the prey every time you see it until your dog starts doing it as a routine too.

STEP 4: Fine-tune your golden retriever’s hunting technique.

When your dog starts chasing the prey even before you do, you can finally relax.

Of course, your pet will not be successful every time, but you should reward him or her nonetheless.

It is now the ideal time to fine-tune the retriever’s hunting technique and make him a perfect hunting companion!


golden retriever fetching

I hope you enjoyed this intro to teaching your golden retriever to hunt!

Big thanks to Robert from for helping us out here and be sure to check out his website out for more hunting tips.

Now getting your golden retriever to retrieve things for you is great, but what happens if you have a golden that doesn’t want to drop what they’ve brought to you?

Check out this post about how to get your golden retriever to “drop it” and WANT to drop it!

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