DS520: Gun Dog Foundations 2 - Retriever Training

Instructor: Cassia Turcotte

Course Details

If you want to compete in retriever hunt tests or train your own waterfowl hunting companion, then this course is for you.  We will build on Gun Dog Foundations to give you the skill sets you will need to progress to the next level and beyond.  We will focus on the proper mechanical skills of both dog and handler, to develop independent proficiency using a concept based approach.

These skills sets are broken out into five specific concept areas complete with progressions and fun training drills and games.  Each concept area can be progressed and generalized at different rates based on the specific focus points of each team. This class is perfect for those with limited time and/or access to training grounds.  Finally-- a complete retriever program for the +R owner/handler/trainer.


Next session starts: June 1, 2017
Registration starts: May 22, 2017
Registration ends: June 15, 2017

Registration begins at 10:00am PDT.

Enrollment limits: 12 gold, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level spot you can sign up any time during the registration period.


Week 1

Concept: Lining

Lectures: Overview, The Art of Lining, Stationary Drop Points, Variable Drop Points, What is an angle? Pt1, Terrain Generalizations

Skills: Mechanics, Lining Drills

Week 2

Concept: Casting

Lectures: Choosing Your Casting Style, Casting Basics, Discriminative Casting, What is an angle? Pt2, Cover Generalizations

Skills: Pattern Casting, Lining Progressions

Week 3

Concept: Marking

Lectures: Types of Marks, Angles Applied to Marking, Preventative Water Marks, Wind Generalizations

Skills:  Lining and Casting Progressions

Week 4

Concept: Foundations Review and Obedience

Lectures: Foundation Maintenance; Heel To Line Sequence; Balancing Arousal, Steadiness, and Desire; Weather Generalizations

Skills: Marking, Casting, and Lining Progressions

Week 5

Concept: Sequencing

Lectures: Suction, Hedge Row Drill, Decoy Generalizations, Advanced Whistle Sit Challenge, Honoring

Skills: Foundations, Lining, Casting, and Marking Progressions

Week 6

General Review: Developing an Individualized Training Plan

Lectures: Strength and Weakness Assessments, Incorporating Conditioning Into Your Training Plan, Working Line Pliability 

Skills: Longterm Maintenance and Progressions

Prerequisites and Equipment


Gun Dog Foundations


  • A range of toys for tug/ball play and treats
  • Video camera/access to YouTube upload
  • Deadfowl Trainers (or bumpers)
  • Duck Call
  • Whistle
  • Placebox
  • 4 Small Food Bowls (or Frisbees/Target Lids)
  • Flagging (orange and white)
  • Starter Pistol
  • Human Assistant(s) OR Remote Bird Launcher(s) (Zinger Winger or Gunners Up)
  • Blank loads that fit your starter pistol or bird launcher
  • Tall Traffic Cones (or lining poles or equivalent)
  • Shoestring slip (literally a shoe string or equivalent)

Course Testimonials

A Sampling of what prior students have said about this course...

DS520 is another awesome class from Cassia! She builds on the concepts introduced in the Gun Dog Foundations class, and takes them to a whole new level. The material is suitable for dogs working at any level, and we had every skill in class - from a months-old puppy to a Master level dog. It was especially helpful to see Todd & Big Red running the homework exercises at the Master level, as it gave us an idea of what it should look like as we progress, and how we can increase difficulty for our own dogs. Cassia is a terrific instructor, and her feedback is spot-on. I can't wait to take the class again, there is so much to practice in the meantime!           

Positive gundog training is a relatively new concept and its very hard to find a trainer. Cassia takes on the challenge in such a delightful training manner and her step by step approach is easy to follow for any type of dog and handler team. I highly recommend this course for anyone wishing to train their dog in any gundog sport.             

I was really excited to hear about a R+ field training class and I have been really pleased with the lectures and overall flow of the program. I already have and will continue to recommend this class for anyone looking at getting into field training that is not comfortable with the traditional training methods. -Jessica H       

Wow! This program is amazing! Cassia has broken down retriever work into a manageable program that is workable for anyone who is motivated to train a retriever for field work. The lessons work for any age dog and can be done in almost any training situation. There were dogs at all levels in my class and Cassia was helpful to everyone. She has thought of everything and explains the how and why of each exercise. Who knew fieldwork could be so fun for both the dog and the handler? I had a blast working in this class!        

Cassia, you are the best! Your instruction has had a huge impact on my dog and my training, and I'm so grateful to have a positive methodology that allows us to participate in the field game again, and truly enjoy it. Thank you so much! - Christine & Ronan             

I can't thank you enough for the class. I felt totally overwhelmed with how to get where I wanted to go without the use of FF and e-collar. My husband and I had finally concluded we need to "desensitize" the dog to get better manners/control but I'm not sure we would have ever gotten to the little pieces that you have broken it down into. Looking forward to the water class! Beth H.         

Thanks, Cassia! What I wouldn't give to be part of your training group!!!! I think your material is good enough to change the face of Hunt test training for positive trainers! We now have solid lessons that will hold up to actual hunt test situations. I feel very confident that I can start a high drive puppy from scratch and take him as far as I want in hunt test training.