The work of a good retriever is essential for all conscientious hunters who want to recover their game properly while respecting the environment.
Its primary role consists of retrieving birds that the hunter has just killed, and doing so under a variety of conditions; marsh, river, field, etc. This type of dog can also be very useful for hunting birds such as pheasants in highlands. It will need to flush out the bird while remaining relatively close to its master (near the gun) and bring it back if the shot is accurate or lucky.
The essential qualities of a good retriever are its desire to retrieve and its ability to memorize the place where the bird fell. Beyond the courage, perseverance and endurance the dog has to demonstrate in various hunting conditions, the most important quality for an excellent retriever is obedience.
This is the ability that will make the dog to remain patiently still in its hiding place, not moving when it hears a shot and sees a bird fall, until it hears its master’s command. With this obedience work and the collaboration between the dog and its master, a retriever can recover a bird it did not see fall through signals it has been taught.
All of this obedience work should be taught as part of a rigorous and structured training program. Several books on this subject are available. There are also retriever clubs and associations in various regions of Québec that provide relevant information on training retriever dogs and that help new initiates learn. They are listed in the “useful links” section of this site.