What can you do with a Labrador Retriever?

Every Labrador Needs a Job - Here are a few suggestions​

Conformation Showing

“Conformation” is the official name for “dog shows.” While they may seem glamorous, the true purpose of conformation showing is to evaluate breeding stock. The dog’s conformation—his overall appearance and structure—is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality purebred puppies, and that is what is being judged in the ring. That’s why mixed-breeds and spayed or neutered purebreds are not eligible to compete. Many times a new exhibitor will get started in dog shows by finding a mentor, usually the breeder they acquired their puppy from. Many GPLRC Members compete in the conformation ring and would be happy to help get you started.

Field Trials

There are four stakes that can be offered at an AKC Licensed or member club field trial: Open, Amateur, Qualifying and Derby. The AKC requires that a club holding a licensed field trial have the two major stakes and at least one minor stake, but typically all four stakes are offered. In the field trial vernacular the terms “major stake” and “all age stakes” are used interchangeably to refer collectively to the Open and Amateur, championship, stakes. The term “minor stakes” is used to refer collectively to the Qualifying and Derby stakes.

As stated in the AKC rules for Retriever Field Trials, the purpose of a trial is to determine the relative merits of Retrievers in the field. The dogs should be judged on their natural abilities including memory for marks, intelligence, attention, nose, courage, perseverance and style, and their abilities acquired through training including steadiness, control, response to direction, and delivery. The abilities acquired through training are tested to a greater extent and more emphasis given to those abilities at each higher level; Qualifying more so than Derby and the All Age stakes more so than Qualifying.

GPLRC does not currently sponsor any field trials although some of our members have pursued field trialing.

Hunting & Hunt Testing

In the 1980s hunters with good retrievers, but without the resources, or time, to be able to be competitive in field trials were anxious to have an avenue to test their dogs for hunting abilities. The Qualifying and then Hunting Dog stake at field trials satisfied that need for a while, but did not offer titles. Thus something more was desired.
The North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA) was formed to satisfy this need. AKC and NAHRA worked together for a while developing a joint hunting test for retrievers. After a time AKC and NAHRA went their separate ways. At this point AKC began it's own Hunting Test for Retrievers program with titles offered for Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter and Master Hunter. Today, GPLRC has many AKC judges and participants to help you get started or advance your progress. Our waterfowl training days are designed to prepare you and your dog for hunt testing.

Lots of hunting dog owners, especially newbies, aren’t sure what the difference is between a field trial and a hunt test. While both are great things to do in the offseason to keep us and our dogs in shape, training, and having fun, it can be confusing to figure out what’s right for you and your dog.
 
Basically, field trials are competitions and hunt tests are not competitive. In a field trial, one dog wins, or depending on the structure of the trial, one dog in each division wins. In a hunt test, each dog is judged individually, not in comparison to other dogs, and is awarded a score based on its performance. At the end of a hunt test, there may be several dogs with perfect scores, several not passing, and all possible combinations in between. The objective of a field trial is to pick a winner; the objective of a hunt test is to assess each dog independently. 

In addition to AKC hunt tests there are other organizations that offer their own hunt test programs: UKC and NAHRA.  These tests can vary significantly from AKC style tests. For more information on these tests please visit the local clubs that offer these by clicking below.

Scent Work

AKC Scent Work is a sport that mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate to the handler that the scent has been found. Scent Work is a positive, challenging activity that allows dogs the opportunity to use their strongest natural sense in a way that is fun, engaging, and that builds and strengthens a foundation of trust between the handler and dog.

AKC Scent Work is broken down into two divisions. The Odor Search Division, in which the dog is searching for the odor of one or more specific essential oils, and the Handler Discrimination Division, in which the dog is searching for the scent of their handler.

GPLRC does not sponsor a scent work trial but GPLRC members do participate and can help you get started.


Agility Trials

Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles. Consequently, the handler's controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

In its simplest form, an agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles laid out by a judge in a design of his or her own choosing in an area of a specified size. The surface may be of grass, dirt, rubber, or special matting. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may be marked with numbers indicating the order in which they must be completed.

Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction. In competition, the handler must assess the course, decide on handling strategies, and direct the dog through the course, with precision and speed equally important. 

Obedience Trials

​Consider taking obedience training with your dog to a whole new level. Enter the world of AKC obedience and help your dog realize its full potential by competing in obedience trials and earning obedience competition titles. AKC Obedience Trials demonstrate the usefulness of the dog as a companion to man. Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC trials and tests allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles.

Therapy 

Due to their temperment and trainability, Labradors make ideal therapy dogs.· 

Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration oftherapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed.
To belong to Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) all dogs must be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator. A dog must be a minimum of one (1) year of age and have a sound temperament. Each dog must pass a TDI temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog. The test will also include the evaluation of the dog’s behavior around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).