Field Events & Field Training

Recommended Reading & Viewing


Training Books

  1. Retriever Puppy Training: The Right Start for Hunting (Clarice Rutherford and Cherylon Loveland)
    • Soft cover, easy-to-read. Takes the reader from puppy selection through the first year of training their puppy for the field.
  2. Retriever Training Drills for Marking (James B. Spencer)
    • A comprehensive collection of marking drills. Spencer keeps in mind the limitations under which many amateurs train. Each drill is diagramed with a careful explanation of the purpose, prerequisites, necessary equipment, and the pitfalls to avoid. Each exercise is limited to field work and oriented to amateurs training their dogs for hunting or hunt tests.
  3. Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves (James B. Spencer)
    • A broad collection of blind retrieving drills. Spencer keeps in mind the limitations under which many amateurs train. Each drill is diagramed with a careful explanation of the purpose, prerequisites, necessary equipment, and the pitfalls to avoid.
  4. Retriever Training Tests (James B. Spencer)
    • To help you improve your dog’s performance in field trials, Working Certificate tests, and in actual hunting. It features diagrams of training tests with explanations of significant environmental factors – wind, terrain and cover.
  5. Training Retrievers for the Marshes and Meadows (James B. Spencer)
    • A non-collar approach to dog training. Written in Spencer’s usual easily read manner, this is a very good book for entry level trainers.
  6. Smart Fetch (Evan Graham)
    • Examines the history of force fetching dogs, its goal and purpose, while laying a solid foundation for a fully trained dog. All obedience issues associated with it are fully explained, plus all phases of the program, from the teaching of “hold,” all the way to “water forcing.” Very complete in its discussion and instruction for doing it yourself.
  7. Smartwork for Retrievers Series – Basic (Volume 1) & Transition (Volume 2) (Evan Graham)
    • Detailed, easy-to-follow instructions for retriever training, from puppies through basics, and into early-to-mid transition. Illustrated by the author. Includes a comprehensive Glossary of Terms.
  8. Finished Dog (Charlie Jurney)
    • This easily-read book answers many questions. It lays the groundwork for training a retriever from basics through the finished product. Solutions for both e-collar and non-collar users.
  9. Training with Mike Lardy – Volumes I, II, III, IV (Mike Lardy)
    • A soft cover series of articles written by Mike Lardy, one of the premier dog trainers in the US, compiled from articles that were featured in Retriever Journal. These articles take you through a training program in a logical and sequential fashion. An excellent series which emphasizes the prevention and treatment of problems that can occur during training and while involved in competition.
  10. Drills for the Retriever Hunt Test Enthusiast (Carol Cassity)
    • Soft cover book contains various drills that can be used for entry level dogs as well as advanced dogs.
  11. Building A Retriever: Drills & More (Carol Cassity)
    • The author builds on her first book, “Drills for the Retriever Hunt Test Enthusiast.” This soft cover book is good for both entry level dogs as well as advanced dogs. It offers drills which can be varied according to the level of the dog, from beginner through Master Hunter level.
  12. The Working Retrievers (Tom Quinn)
    • A classic. A very well done book covering the training and care of your retriever. The paintings/drawings alone are worth the price of the book.
  13. Motivational Training For The Field (Lorie C. Jolly)
    • A “positive approach” for a well-trained field dog. It gives you the tools to obtain field titles using positive reinforcement.

Books of Historical Value or Supplementary Advice

  1. Training Retrievers: The Cotton Pershall Method (Bobby George, Jr.)
    • An interesting look into a by-gone era of retriever training. One of the early masters of the venue.
  2. Charles Morgan on Retrievers (Charles Morgan; edited by D. L. Walters)
    • A very enjoyable look into the past with regard to retriever training. It contains many fascinating vignettes.
  3. Training Retrievers to Handle (D. L. Walters)
    • The training procedures here have been the foundation for many of the more modern methods used in training for blind retrieves. The program stresses the creation of good habits and the prevention of bad habits. Useful for training a first class hunting dog, and also helpful for more advanced dogs
  4. Don’t Shoot the Dog (Karen Pryor)
    • Soft cover. Clearly explains the underlying principles of behavioral training. The methods describe can be used in many situations, but apply extremely well to dog training.
  5. The Best of the Best – A History of the IGL Retriever Championship 1909-2011 (Graham Cox and Dr. Gareth Davies)
    • This book records the first hundred years of the UK’s International Gundog League (IGL) Retriever Championships, and documents their blue ribbon centenary in 2009. The information is thorough, and the photographs are excellent. As a work of reference for overseas, it is unmatched. It’s pricey, but a great read.

Ordering Books

Online Magazines

  1. Retrievers Online
    • No longer available in hard copy, this online magazine includes articles and information for all levels of field training, including hunting your dog. It has excellent articles on training retrievers for field trials, training philosophies, chaining, and hunt tests. 705-793-3556
  2. The Retriever Journal
    • Good for those interested in hunting, hunt test dogs, and more basic training levels. It has a variety of articles, including some on the health of the working dog. 800-447-7367
  3. Gun Dog Magazine
    • The Retriever Journal is mainly aimed towards the retriever breeds, whereas Gun Dog Magazine focuses on all the gun dogs breeds. Gun Dog magazine, which is available both hard copy and online, contains excellent training articles and hunting advice for both the beginner and experienced trainers and hunters.


  1. Sound Beginnings Retriever Training (Jackie Mertens)
  2. GRCA WC/WCX Video (The GRCA Field Education Subcommittee)
  3. The Art & Science of Handling Retrievers (Dave Rorem)
  4. Total Retriever E-Collar Conditioning with Mike Lardy (Mike Lardy)
  5. Total Retriever Training with Mike Lardy (Mike Lardy)
  6. Total Retriever Marking with Mike Lardy (Mike Lardy)
  7. Training Retrievers Alone (Dennis Voigt)
  8. 25 Essential Retriever Training Drills for Handling (Dennis Voigt)All of the above videos can be obtained through or 800-848-5963
    Mike Lardy’s videos can also be ordered through his website,
  9. Illustrated History of Golden Retriever Field Champions and Amateur Field Champions (Rita Robins and Glenda Brown)
    • Covers all FC/AFC Goldens from 1935 through mid-2015. Order from the GRCA Store.     ****  All proceeds go to the Golden Retriever Foundation ****
  10. Illustrated History of Golden Retriever Master National Qualifiers (Rita Robins and Glenda Brown)
    • Covers Golden Retriever Master National Qualifiers from 1991 through 2014. Order from the GRCA Store.     **** All proceeds go to the Golden Retriever Foundation ****
  11. Andy Attar on Transition Work (Andy Attar)
    • Order from or Redfish 866-246-5682.
  12. Bill Hillmann has a large catalog of training videos; a few feature Golden Retrievers. Listed below are only some of the many titles available on his website.
    1. Training a Retriever Puppy with Bill Hillmann
    2. Training Your Pet with the Electric Collar – The “Soft Collar” Method for All Breeds.
    3. Art & Science of Raising a Puppy with Bill Hillmann
    4. The Fetch Command
    5. Traffic Stop
    6. Retriever Training Fundamentals on Land
    7. Retriever Training Fundamentals on Water