Training for all seasons
Original article: Sioux City Journal - 09/14/2004
By Rhonda Keller - Journal Correspondent
ROUND LAKE, Minn — From newborn puppies to adult hunting masters, the dogs bred and trained at Round Lake Kennels here are the "Cadillacs" of hunting dogs, according to trainer Thad Lambert.
Not only are the dogs trained, but customers as well,
"We encourage our customers to stay in constant contact with us after they purchase a puppy," said Scott Rall, who is Lambert's training partner.
"We want them to call at least once a month so we can provide ongoing advice and education so they will have a high-quality adult dog."
The Labrador Retrievers are bred from parents whose ancestry shows a good history of trainability, making the puppies more inclined to adhere to training and required obedience.
The dogs are taught to "mark," which means they look intently at a certain area where something is going to happen—say a bird falling from the sky. The dog then is ordered to retrieve the bird and bring it to the hunter's hand.
The dogs also are trained not to run and retrieve the prey until ordered to do so by the hunter. They must wait at the hunter's side until the command is given to retrieve the prey.
While most hunting dogs are trained in the sport, Rall who owns four Labs, said many people are under the impression that if a dog is obedient and listens, it is a good hunting dog. But, according to Rall, that dog is not as good as it can be.
Lambert said that he trained his first dog, a non-purebred Labrador, but later when he purchased his first purbred Lab, he discovered there was much he didn't know about training. So he consulted another trainer.
"I decided I wanted a dog who was trained a littler better, to the next level, so I consulted the help of another trainer and then went to work for him part-time in the afternoons," Lambert said. "That's how I got into this business, and I've been training full-time since 1999.
The puppies are raised in the house where there is a whelping room. The enclosure for the puppies is heated for the floor and easy for the mother to get into and out of, and a separate place for her if she needs to take a break from her pups, while remaining close by.
Lambert said that all of the breeding females used at the kennels have been dogs trained by Lambert and Rall.
"All of our breeding dogs come from hunt-test, field-trial backgrounds, even if they are not going to be trained for hunting," Lambert said.
Not just for hunting
Some of the dogs go to assistance homes, to be trained there for providing assistance to the handicapped.
"In those cases we don't train the dog for hunting, but it goes to a separate agency for the specialized training and assistance dog requires," Lambert said. "But here again, the trainability, coming from and ancestry of good blood lines all the way back to the grandparents is highly beneficial. Even though they are not going to be trained for hunting, mom and dad have been trained to a high level and a high standard of work. The trainability of a dog is an inherited trait, so this is favorable in any type of training. If mom and dad trained relatively easy, then son and daughter will do the same."
All veterinary work, which includes examining the eyes and hips of the dogs, is done by a veterinarian.
Chocolate and golden Labradors also are available at the kennels, but as much black Lab ancestry as possible is put into them, Lambert said, because the black is where the strongest gene pool lies.
The Labradors are not just excellent hunting dogs, Lambert and Rall said.
"Out of the large breeds, the finest companion dog that has ever been is a Labrador," Rall said. "They love affection and they have a high desire to please. That is probably the number one attribute of the Labrador."