I have two labs and am thinking that my 2yr of male would be good at doing some field type of events. He is obsessed with retrieving anything and enjoys it so much. How do I get started in this kind of thing, what is the best way to start? I have no experience in this kind of thing at all - would I be better off having someone else do some training with him to get started or could I do it with (with help)? He has had one basic obedience class and did "okay"; he wasn't the best but not the worse either and with practice does pretty good although he has a ways to go. I read about the upcoming LRC Specialty trials coming up in our area in September and hope to go and watch part of this.
You should probably post this in the Hunting/Trials subforum as this subforum is for conformation. That said, when you say "trials" you probably mean hunt tests. Find a retriever club in your area that does hunt tests and picnic tests and join the club. Going to events is a great way to ask around for any recommended trainers in your area or to join a training group.
What has your dog been retrieving so far? Retrieving tennis balls in a back yard is quite different from retrieving birds from cover and water and from greater distances. You will want to start small by introducing your dog to birds, gunfire, terrain. You can train with bumpers as they are cheaper than birds but not as exciting for dogs. You would have to work on building the distance of your retrieves; 60-100 yards is probably what you'd encounter in many hunt tests. You also would have to start your dog retrieving in some cover; it's a gradual process and your training group should be able to help guide you. You also need to introduce your dog to water and retrieving in water. Retriever training is a great way to bond with your dog, meet people and see places that you would not have otherwise seen.
Where are you located? I can look up local retriever clubs for you.
Thanks for your help. We live in Oregon. Yes, he has only been after balls, etc but loves it so much I thought maybe we could move on to other things. He loves the water, the more the better and has enough energy for two of us! I know we would need alot of advise and training since we have no experience but this would be a good for both of us. I just don't want to try and do it alone and do it wrong - it wouldn't matter if he had fun and it was wrong but if he shows some talent I don't want to teach him bad habits we would have to correct later.
Definately check into hunting clubs or if your LRC has a hunt training group. When I was starting, the LRCSC had practice days to get ready for the WC and it was alot of fun to learn. Maddy was the same way. An insane drive for retrieving balls. I remember the first practice I took her too, I knew she'd have no problems with the bumpers, and they were telling me, "Bring her closer in if she's never done this before" but she had no problems with the guns or the distance. She had the basics down from instinct. Where you MIGHT need some initial practice is when you bring a bird into the equation. Maddy took a long time to take a liking to birds. But we finally got our WC. Now if I could just find time for practice, we'd work on the JH.