My thoughts on training books - videos
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By Tim Price - 5/3/2007 3:38:55 PM
There have been countless posts about what training materials to buy/use to train your puppies/dogs. Don, Ricky, myself and a few others offer advice here regularly. I enjoy doing it but it gets a little redundant telling people to buy Sound Beginnings over and over. While reading a thread today where this happened AGAIN I thought I would put my opinions down on a separate thread re training materials so I (and others if they agree) can simply refer people to this thread when they ask what to buy.

Here goes:

Puppy training. Jackie Merten's Sound Beginnings video is the best puppy video out there. Forget that I like it, it's recommended my Mike Lardy...enough said. It does not come with a manual. My recommendation is you watch it and take detailed notes stating age of dogs doing the drills, names of drills, etc. This will ensure you do not skip any steps. Jackie's video is easily understood by the first time trainer and trains your puppy from the day you pick it up until about 5-6 months when it's ready for formal obedience

Purchase the video here:

Basics thru advanced training

Smartwork by Evan Graham is a great book for a trainer new to advanced type retriever training. He gives excellent descriptions and drills which can be understood by a newbie. It's not expensive and can be found here:

SmartFetch is another detailed source reviewing force fetch which can be found here:

Mike Lardy's Total Retriever Training is the best video set out there. This video along with Total Retriever Marking will give you information you can use forever to train your dogs. It's expensive but I've yet to hear someone say you didn't get what you pay for. 

Videos can be purchased here:

In addition, he has tips

 and a invaluable tool, his flowchart, on his website:

My choosing Lardy first is no slam on Evan's product as it's a great resource and is very comprehensive. I simply believe the Lardy videos are the standard in retriever training and have changed the way retrievers are trained. Both programs are Carr-based in theory so will not contradict each other. As a result I actually have used both, i.e. I use the drills in Smartwork that are not included in Lardy's stuff to supplement my training.

Handling your dog

A new video by pro Dave Rorem The Art and Science of Handling Retrievers is a great video that explains many little things that people don't know about handling dogs at field trials and hunt tests. If you want to improve your handling skills, this is a video you need.

Buy it here:


Problem Solving

Problems and Solutions by Danny Farmer and Judy Aycock is a nice video on how to train to fix/avoid specific common problems most people run into eventually with retrievers. 

Can be purchased here:

My personal opinion is use Sound Beginnings for puppy work. If money isn't an issue, purchase Total Retriever Training for Basics and beyond. I would also advise getting Smartwork and supplementing Lardy's stuff with drills from Smartwork. If money is an issue, go with Smartwork and follow it exclusively. I'm no expert by any means but these resources have been great for me and countless others. I hope this post helps.  

By Thunder Chicken - 5/16/2007 9:05:42 PM

Thanks for spelling it out so well. What would you suggest with Lardy's videos as far as which to by?  I would rather not buy both.  I have a relatively good understanding of dog training and my family has had 4 professionally trained labs.  My soon to be companion will be the first that I train on my own.  I plan on getting Sound Beginnings, but as everyone knows it can add up quick.

By CedarFork - 12/14/2007 9:47:59 AM
Moved up to help newbies.
By RioDecoy - 12/18/2007 9:44:54 PM
I like both Farmer and Aycock videos Basics and problems and Solutions.  Also within the next few months Team Waterdog is going to have a basics video coming out.

Just my two cents.

By phowler - 1/15/2008 3:57:34 PM
By phowler - 6/30/2008 2:59:54 PM
Needs bumped again.
By phowler - 7/19/2008 11:05:32 AM
By tkpaul - 7/19/2008 1:40:43 PM
RioDecoy 12/18/2007
I like both Farmer and Aycock videos Basics and problems and Solutions. Also within the next few months Team Waterdog is going to have a basics video coming out.

Just my two cents.


I agree, Farmer/Aycock's "Basics" for both the beginning handler and dog. I don't think this video was out when Tim first posted this.

Can we make this thread a "sticky"?
By Legacyoutdoorsports - 7/19/2008 1:43:53 PM
well has anyone heard good reviews on The Wildrose Way with Mike Stewart?
By fireplug - 7/22/2008 9:58:59 PM
another good book on training gundogs  is one from Robert Milner   "Gundog Training"    its xalent     my father bought a female chocy from him back in 1980     best dog i've ever owned      but really check it out
By phowler - 9/8/2008 11:36:20 PM
.............and bumped once again.
By blackdawg - 9/21/2008 10:37:41 AM
bumped ... admin/mod should make this a "sticky thread"
By TCFarmer - 9/22/2008 10:33:50 AM
Since Tim posted this, Evan has come out with a new puppy dvd that you may want to check out.

I would also add Mike Lardy's Total E-collar Conditioning to the list for first time users of a collar.

By ltcoljdf - 10/28/2008 9:57:53 AM
Water Dog by Richard Wolters is a great book
By TexasEd - 10/28/2008 10:33:13 AM
ltcoljdf 10/28/2008
Water Dog by Richard Wolters is a great book

How long ago was that book written, I forgot.
By Don Smith - 10/28/2008 10:59:39 AM
TexasEd 10/28/2008
ltcoljdf 10/28/2008
Water Dog by Richard Wolters is a great book

How long ago was that book written, I forgot.
Probably 40 years ago or so, but it's not the age so much as the misinformation.  I wouldn't even bother to reply to Itcoljdf.  He's posted that twice.  I'm sure just to try to get a rise out of people.  Interesting "handle."  I'm pretty sure the last three letters are "just [a] du** f***."
By kghops - 1/27/2009 10:57:49 AM
Bumping this to the top as it seems there are a few folks out there looking for training materials.

Thanks Tim, for posting this.

By phowler - 4/21/2009 1:33:32 AM
To the top once again just for Daak08.
By Mallard Mugger - 8/25/2011 12:03:56 PM

FYI - Lardy has out his his 2nd edition which I hear is fantastic.

Edit:  Thanks for posting this Tim!!
By Mallard Mugger - 1/14/2012 12:50:35 PM
Bump.  Where is that sticky button??
By LANsCom - 1/2/2013 5:59:23 AM
Tim, a big thanks for putting in your time on this and please let Don and Ricky
know that all your input is greatly appreciated.  With my Dad now in heaven for
10 plus I am just getting back to one of my real passions Birds and being on the
water.  Our new 9wk. male GSP will be in the truck this Friday.  I teach my son and
pride myself to talk less and listen more (really listen) because the knowledge
around us is overwhelming.  There are so many of our Peers brewing with thoughts
and great (real life) advice on this passion we all have that would rather remain the
quite guy alone with his thoughts than share because listening is becoming a failing
ability and that is sad. Oops, got a little off sorry but thanks again your knowledge
has given me more time to be a Dad.
By Mallard Mugger - 2/28/2013 12:14:15 PM
By cdill - 10/15/2013 9:41:14 AM
Bumping this again.  We are picking up our new chocolate lab pup on Saturday and I remembered Tim and Don talking about this stuff a few years ago.  Great references from some guys who absolutely know what they are talking about.
By exploder870 - 12/6/2013 3:34:24 PM
New to DU  and new to dog training, I'll be picking up my 8 week old chocolate Lab in three weeks very excited to train with him, Big thanks for the time you put into this Tim