Retriever Training & Hunt Tests


Smoken Dakota Kennels 46573 269th St Sioux Falls, SD 57106Basics

Regardless of your goals all dogs need a solid foundation to build on and our basics program instills this foundation.  We work at each dogs pace understanding that like humans, dogs learn at different rates.  We ensure the dogs understand what’s being asked of them and progress as their skill set allows.  The basics program covers obedience, force fetch, collar conditioning, marking drills and an introduction to guns and birds.  Possessing a strong retrieving desire and having an understanding of basic obedience is needed prior to formal training.  We prefer to sculpt drive and desire instead of begging the dog to do the work.  If the pup hasn't been exposed to simple obedience or hasn’t been consistently retrieving at extended distances the time to complete basics is extended.  

When basic training is completed, additional advanced training may start as we have a foundation to build upon. 


If you are going to hunt with a dog for waterfowl or you want a completely trained retriever this is an essential step.  Transition is where the dog learns through a series of drills how to handle and complete blind retrieves.   While continuing to learn and advance in the training yard we also advance the dogs marking, memory and steadiness in the field.

We complete our transition drills through swim-by using our on site training yard and pond.  For advancing field work we use nearby specifically designed retriever training fields and ponds.


This is where everything comes together!  This is the next step after transition if the retriever has the drive and the owner has the desire to continue.  The retriever will continue to advance on more difficult and multiple marks, be required to honor another dog, run cold blinds and manage diversions.   We have several hundreds of acres with technical water we designed to train and advance the dogs on. 

Hunt Tests

Hunt tests provide a gauge for the trainer and owner to know where the dog is in his training.  There are multiple levels of hunt tests that correlate with our training program.  As the levels progress they increase in complexity and in the Hunting Retriever Club they are named Started, Seasoned and Finished.  When a dog passes a licensed test he earns points and a ribbon.  The retriever earns titles at each level that he can add in front of his name such as SHR, HR and HRCH.  The highest level of HRC competition in the country is the Grand.  This test is only held twice a year in the US or Canada.  Retrievers who have earned their Championship (HRCH) are invited to compete; GRHRCH’s are the most elite retrievers in the world.  If you are committed to having a retriever stay through the advanced program we would strongly encourage you to consider hunt tests as the dogs are emerged in the same program.


BIRDS – BIRDS – BIRDS!  If your goal is an awesome upland game dog then after basics is completed we go in the field and increase exposure to upland birds.  Quartering close, flushing, retrieving and delivering to hand are repeated over and over.  With this training it’s all about experience, more flushes and more birds.  


Please contact us for availability and an evaluation.