Before Going to a Professional - An Interview with Amy Dahl - Page 2

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Training for Owners

Beyond the issue of training the dog—and often, equally important—is the education of the owner.

“It’s a catch-22,” Dahl says. “The more an owner knows and understands about training, the better job we can do for them. But they wouldn’t pay us to do it if they knew how to do it themselves.”

As eager as you may be to try your pup’s training out for yourself, it’s best to exercise patience and defer to your pro regarding how and when to get involved. Dahl recommends waiting to visit, at a minimum, until the force-fetch program is complete, as visits prior to that milestone can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s attitude.

It’s also not constructive to attempt to handle your dog before it has experience and confidence at the level being demonstrated.

But no matter what stage your dog is at, if you plan to visit and be involved you must be aware of the etiquette of trainer interaction.

About Amy Dahl -

With her husband and training partner, John, Amy Dahl runs Oak Hill Kennel in Pinehurst, North Carolina. To learn more about the Dahl’s training program and their new book, The 10-Minute Retriever, visit
Says Amy, “When owners visit, we ask that they arrive on time, pay attention to the routine, and fit in such a way that facilitates effective training. When owners adhere to those guidelines we are eager for them to come back whenever they can.”

One more thing—always, and that means always, be sensitive to the trainer’s time.

“Training enough dogs to make a living, and giving each dog the ideal amount of attention per day, demands a lot of time,” says Dahl. “We need to make use of daylight, safe temperature ranges, and our paid help, all while maintaining a routine so that the dogs know what to expect.” That means that when you plan to visit your dog, don’t expect the training staff to stand around talking dogs with you for hours. They have (a lot) of work to do. Remember, if you are punctual, time-sensitive, and willing to learn, you will find yourself welcome to visit early and often.

Final thoughts

Watching a retriever grow from an inquisitive pup to the finished dog you have imagined is a magical experience. Knowing when and how to involve a professional trainer in your pup’s program will enhance your experience and allow your dog to reach its full potential.
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