From what i have learned (as a total newbie) in my class, the first steps is basic obedience. Even in our class (with adult dogs) we go back to obedience. A proper heel (not obedience style heel, but still a good heel). A good recall. keeping the bumper as fun fun fun, not overdoing it when playing with the bumper either (i.e. not so great to play long sessions of fetch with it). Watching the more experienced dogs do their thing is insane - their obedience is beautiful to watch.
As for ducks and guns - i'll let the hunters answer that!
Now - if you can find a retriever club near you that offers classes, or go to hunt trials in your area that would be the best place to start. Getting to know people who know the game and can give you face to face advice. Seeing the dogs in action. Taking classes (some of the members in our class are only looking for a dog they can hunt with NOT compete with). Doesn't have to be a lab club, Tollers, Golden's, it's similar in the basics so take a class!
one other thing I have heard that is helpful is to get them out in the field and get them out swimming in safe areas at a fairly young age 3-4 months. one thing you can do earlier is introduce them to a pigeon wing (wing cut off a pigeon) and have them do play retrieves and get them interested in that. Teaching them to sit and come and fetch etc can all be done as a game for pups under 4 months old and will make obedience easier when you start that. You need to do crate training and car ride training and get them used to being around strange people etc.. Getting them around gunfire is good, nothing close or loud at first and give the pup treats as when he hears gunfire isn't bad gradually working closer over several weeks or months. Talk to a trainer in your area (field/hunt test trainer) and ask them what you need to do and tell them what you want to do with the dog.
Getting them around gunfire is good, nothing close or loud at first and give the pup treats as when he hears gunfire isn't bad gradually working closer over several weeks or months.
As soon as I got Rocky at 8 weeks I would fire off a cap gun before feeding him. I started in another room, then closer and closer each meal until I stood beside him, fired off the cap gun and released him to eat. Now I use a starters pistol when training outside and he never has an issue with the sound of my 12 gauge shotgun when we go duck hunting.