8 Vital Retriever Training Commands That You Need to Teach Your Dog

Having control of your dog is essential. You must have seen many people who just struggle with their dog’s behavior. A well trained dog id worth all the effort that goes into training the dog.

As a new puppy owner, I also went to through that phase and it times I would tend to lose patience.

This article is about the training commands that we should be teaching our retriever dogs. These commands are specifically tailored towards the retriever dog breeds like Golden and Labrador retriever dogs.

The list commands that are covered here for you are:

  1. Leave It
  2. Hunt ‘Em Up
  3. Find the Bird
  4. Stay
  5. Sit
  6. Heel
  7. Kennel
  8. No

Why Retriever Dogs Need Commands?

Commands for retrievers are essential for a successful hunt. They guide your dog into performing the correct actions in different situations. It can take some time and lots of practice for your pet to master these commands.

There will be lots of trial and error when you first start training them. After enough time, they’ll be experienced enough to follow your commands, sometimes without having to be told. 

Essential Retriever Dog Commands

1) Leave It

About Leave It Command

The Leave It command is one of the first commands that your dog should learn. It will not only help with your hunt, but it can also protect health by using this command to avoid foods and other items that could cause a choking hazard or would otherwise be harmful to their health.

Step By Step How To Train For Leave It Command

1. Start by sitting on the floor with your dog. You should have something good for them on one hand, such as dog treats or one of their favorite toys. Make a fist and present the fist holding the items out towards your retriever. Odds are they will be very curious about what you have.

They may sniff at your hand or raise a paw to try to open your fist. Whatever they try to do, make sure that you keep your fist closed. This will help your dog to learn that the items you’re holding are off-limits. After they’ve learned this behavior, you can add the “leave it” command before holding out your fist to them.

2. The next step is to expand upon this command. Hold the items in your fist as you present your hand to your dog. Open your palm while giving the “leave it” command. Your retriever may be curious and move toward you to see what you have.

When they do, close your fist quickly. You can reward your dog with a treat if they leave your closed palm alone. Just make sure not to feed them a treat from the items you kept from them in your fist.

3. Now it’s time to increase the difficulty. This time, put the treats or dog toy on the floor and place your hand over them. Give the “leave it” command and observe your dog’s behavior. If they leave your hand alone, feel free to reward them again if you’d like.

Next, leave the treats on the floor and place your hand over them. Give the “leave it” command as you remove your hand. Be prepared to cover the treats with your hand if your retriever rushes toward them. If they don’t, they are one step closer to mastering this command. Only one more exercise remains.

4. For the final step, you’ll have to leash your dog. Place a treat or favorite toy out of their reach. Hold on to the leash firmly. Your dog will probably want to run towards the item, but it’s important to keep them restrained as you give the “leave it” command.

Once they’ve learned to stop struggling and leave the item alone, give them an appropriate award. They’ve now mastered the “leave it” command!

2) Hunt ‘Em Up

hunt em up

About Hunt ‘Em Up Command

The Hunt ‘Em Up command is a kind of pep talk for your dog. It helps to get them motivated to find any birds that you have hit or wounded during your day in the field. Once they’re motivated, they’ll know what to look for and bring back to you.

Step By Step How To Train For Hunt ‘Em Up Command

1. Take the bird out in the field. Your dog should be a safe distance away while you do this. Place the bird somewhere that’s out of the dog’s sight range but isn’t too far away for them to find.

2. Let your dog start wandering towards the spot where you hid the bird. Bring a whistle so that you can give a few quick hoots if they’re searching in the wrong place. Your retriever should be out ahead of you while looking, to simulate real hunting conditions.

3. Start giving the “hunt ’em up” command. You should be giving the command in an excited voice. Before long, your dog will pick up the bird’s scent. Keep giving the command until they’ve located the bird.

4. Repeat the process. Take your retriever back to the starting point and hide the bird in a different spot. Feel free to vary your lengths of distance. This helps your dog to get more accustomed to the command and search more than one spot for birds in the field.

3) Find the Bird

About Find The Bird Command

This command should be used when you want your dog to retrieve a bird that you’ve shot during your hunt. It’s especially helpful on days where you’re dealing with inclement weather or adverse field conditions. When you’re not sure where the bird landed, using this command will help your dog retrieve the bird successfully.

Step By Step How To Train For Find The Bird Command

1.For this command, you’ll need a couple of friends to help. Have one friend take the bird out about 20-30 yards away from you. Another friend should be standing a few yards away from you and have a shooting stick. Keep your dog leashed and next to you to start.

2. Signal the first friend to throw the bird in the air. The second person will point the shooting stick in the opposite direction and fire a shot. Keep your dog leashed and by your side. Once the bird has landed on the ground, give the “find the bird” command and release the leash.

3. The noise should excite your dog enough to want to find the bird out in the field. Their ears may perk up when they hear the shot and they may be anxious to run before your release the leash. Feel free to use your whistle if your retriever is searching in the wrong area. You can also repeat this process as many times as you’d like after your dog has found the bird the first time.

Conclusion And Other Related Retriever Training Commands

In addition to these commands, here are a few other commands that are important for your hunting and home life with your dog:

4) Stay

About the Stay Command

The stay command is helpful for people with hyperactive dogs. Loud noises, other people and other dogs can easily become distractions. Your retriever will want to see what’s causing all the commotion when they hear such sounds. This can lead to trouble in social settings.

Step by Step How To for Stay Command:

1. Begin by having your dog sit. Hold your hand out toward them. Your palm should be facing outward. Give the stay command.

2. Walk away. Wait for a minute or two before calling your dog to you. Your dog may run to you without being called. If this happens, take them back to their starting process and continue.

3. Repeat this process. Slowly extend the amount of time your dog is sitting. Eventually, your retriever will learn not to come to you until called.

5) Sit

About the Sit Command

The sit command is important for dogs to learn at a young age. It keeps them from wandering about and getting into mischief. It can also help them avoid problems or accidents later on in life.

Step by Step How To for Sit Command:

1. Hold the dog’s food bowl in one hand. Give the “sit” command while pushing down on the dog’s rear end with your free hand.

2. Be prepared to keep your hand on your dog until they sit. When they perform correctly, put their food bowl down on the floor in front of them.

3. Repeat this process as necessary. This is one of the first times your retriever will learn the reward for obeying their master’s command as a pup.

6) Heel

Retriever heel

About the Heel Command

This command will help your dog stay by your side at an even pace when you are walking down the street or are out in the field on a hunt. This command eliminates the problem of having an excited dog walk faster than you or seem to drag you down the street as they run towards something that grabbed their attention while you’re walking with them.

Step by Step How To for Heel Command:

1. Start by walking your dog with a lead. Keep your dog on the left side of your body.

2. When your dog’s pace quickens, give the “heel” command and use the lead to pull them back toward you.

3. Repeat the process every time your dog starts to walk ahead of you. After enough practice, your dog should stop beside you when you stop walking.

7) Kennel

About the Kennel command

The kennel command comes in handy for hunting. It tells your dog that it’s time to return to your vehicle after a busy day out in the field. It’s a command that you can use at home, ice fishing, or other places out in public. Your command tells them that it’s time to return to a safe place.

Step by Step How To for Kennel Command:

1. Start when your dog is a pup. When putting them in their crate, give the “kennel” command.

2. Your dog’s kennel should be comfortable for them. Make sure that it’s warm enough, protects them from the elements when placed outside, and cozy enough for them to sleep in. Adding a few blankets or favorite toys can entice them to want to return to it whenever the command is given.

3. Once your dog has understood this command, it can be used when hunting, on road trips and other places.

8) No

About the No command

The “no” command is more important for home life, but it can also be used out in the field when you’re hunting too. Dogs will sometimes get overly excited by other people, animals, noises and other distractions. Their first instinct may be to run towards a particular sound or run-up towards guests in the home.

While some people may welcome your pet with open arms, others may be frightened by this action. Using the “no” command will help to avoid such uncomfortable situations and help to keep your dog out of trouble.

Step by Step How To For No Command:

1. Use the “no” command anytime your dog is misbehaving. If they are chewing on furniture, barking at birds or the neighbor’s pets, digging holes in the yard or getting into any other kind of mischief, they should be hearing this command.

2. Say the command loudly and emphatically. Your dog will start to learn that what they are doing is wrong. They’ll also learn by the tone of your voice that you don’t like their behavior and want them to stop it immediately.

3. Repeat this command whenever you need to. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice when giving the “no” command in public. Your dog needs to learn proper behavior and avoid temptations that can be a giant headache for both you and your pet.

These are some of the basic commands to teach your retriever. You can reward your dog with food or other treats when they respond correctly. It will probably take several tries before your dog understands the command and displays proper behavior, so don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.

It may seem like a bit of tough love at first, but your dog will learn to become more well-behaved and resist distractions. These commands will also help your retriever to be more effective in the field. It can make all the difference between a discouraging and a great day hunting in the great outdoors.


  1. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jvms/71/12/71_001617/_article/-char/ja/
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-01889-013

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