The BEST Hunting Dog

Show Notes

On this episode of The Nomadic Outdoorsman Dan sits down with the Best family to hear all about their training program and to hear how his dog Scout has performed over the last 11 months.

Kristin and Rody Best are the owners of Best Retrievers in Paige Texas and have been training dogs for more than 2 decades. What started out as a passionate one-man operation has grown into a world class training and whelping operation with an amazing reputation in the hunting community. Dan and Sam dropped their dog off at Best retrievers less than a year ago and today they sit down with the family to see how the training has been.

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Show Transcript


All right, guys. Welcome to today's show. Now on the show with me today, I've got the best crew. These guys have been training my dog Scout. It's an amazing family that we have come to love and become great friends with, and we're down at their property in Texas. But before we jump in to talk to them about dog training and all of that, I got to fill you in on what happened last night after we recorded this episode.

Rody, Dakota, and I, we went out in the side by side with the thermals looking for pigs. And it, first of all, if you've not thermal hunted, you got to check it out. It's a ton of fun, but we saw all kinds of stuff. We saw birds and rabbits and possums, raccoons, a handful of deer, cows. And then right at the end, we saw a couple of pigs, but they were going into the trees.

We get all the way back up to their house. I scan the back of the property one more time from the driveway. And all the pigs came out. So we booked it back up the hill, got on these pigs. There were probably 40 of them. [00:01:00] And got a couple shots off on him, knocked one down. It was a ton of fun. And tonight I think I'm going to go sit with my bow because I've never got a pig with my bow before.

So he's, they're giving me the full like treatment here. I get to hunt while I'm here picking up my dog. Unfortunately, waterfowl season is not in right now, but. On this episode, I'm going to be talking with Rhody, Kristen, and Dakota all about how they've trained my dog, Scout, how they've built this amazing business, what training looks like, what expectations for, first time dog owners that are dropping a dog off at training.

What should they expect? What should they look for? There's a lot of really great questions asked and answered in this episode. And we absolutely love this family. We love this place. Honestly, if we didn't have such good jobs, I'd be applying to come down here and train with them, but I'm excited for this one.

I hope you are too. Let's jump in with the best family.[00:02:00]

He was doing things that were just badass. That was one of the coolest moments of my life. I was really scared, but knowing that Dan had the gun, I did have the rifle we would be okay. All

right guys, welcome to today's show and on the show with me today, I've got a good chunk of the best family. I'm pretty excited about this cause we're down in Texas picking up our dog scout. Who's been at training for 11 months now and got to see him today. See him in action. And you guys have been sending me videos every week anyways, so I feel like I'm still here.

Not totally, but on the show we've got Kristen, Rhodey, and Dakota Bess. And they're responsible for all this amazing training. They've got me super pumped about the competition side of training. Got to watch them run in person, watch the whole Crown Series. Live on [00:03:00] Facebook or YouTube or whatever it was on but thanks for helping on with me.

Thanks for having us. Yeah Thank you. So I think we officially met you reached out, right? Yes, you reached out to Sam. Yes Was it? Yeah. Yes, I reached out on Instagram we were actually sitting having dinner with Dakota and his wife Kara and we have been following Sam for a while and so we just On a whim, just decided to send a message and just see if it would work out.

And next thing I know, I got a message back and then a phone call the next day from you guys. And the rest is history. Yes. Yeah. We, I told her, I told Sam when we got scout, I was like, I will never have an untrained dog again. I've done that too many times. We've, and we've been joking about it today. And I was like, having buddies with dogs and you have to throw the stick for the dog every time, make it splash.

Hopefully it sees the bird. Maybe it brings back a decoy. And I was like, I'm [00:04:00] not doing that again. And then once we actually came down and met you guys and you showed us your operation here, the training, how the dogs are supposed to work, not how, not being glorified fetchers, but actually knowing what to do, I was blown away.

So when did you guys start doing this? I guess I, I started in college. I had grown up, in Texas dove hunting and stuff, but never waterfowl hunting at all. And a buddy of mine invited me on a goose hunt. I thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. It combined my love of animals and dogs in general or specifically dogs and hunting, just put everything in the, in a tight little neat package for me.

So it worked out good. And I didn't have a dog. I went with a buddy who had one. and watched his dog do the work and thought that is really neat. I got to do that. And so our first dog, I actually got out of free out of a newspaper. Her name was Penny. She was a yellow lab. And I remember getting her because I'd gone on a hunt by myself.

It was real cold one morning. Nobody wanted to go with me. [00:05:00] They thought I was crazy. It was in the twenties. I went out on the Brazos river. Shot a duck dropped in the water, and of course the current's gonna drift from the bird away. Yeah. And I'm by myself. I don't have a dog. So I took off running in blue jeans and jumped out in the water and waited out in the water and walked back with the duck.

And when I got back my pants were frozen straight, just stiff legged. I think I had, I was cold and I got home and I told my wife, I said, I'm getting a dog . I'm not doing this again. I gotta have a dog. And so my first one was a newspaper dog, free to a good home. And I quickly learned that.

It was going to take a young puppy that I was going to have to raise myself and teach and, the old Adagie can't teach an old dog new tricks has a lot of merit. And started off from there and it just grew, it blew up. A lot of things happened between now and since then. But yeah, here we are.

Man, I, I can relate so much to that story. I got my first lab off of Craigslist or no It was Facebook marketplace. This guy's like a seven year old dog. He's been hunting for six seasons. I have kids now I don't get out he needs to go to somebody who hunts and I'm like [00:06:00] he's a KC registered and he's hunted for six seasons and I go and I get him and unless he sees that bird fall, there's no way he's going out.

You'll be like, Rudy, go get it. And he'll maybe get in the water and turn around. I don't know what I'm doing out here. And I took him to Phil Brown who lives close by. And he's let's see how your dog works. And he looked back at me. He's Dan, I hate to tell you, this is. This is going to be a good indoor pet.

And I was like, Oh shoot. And then I watched his dogs work and I was like, I got to have one someday. I'm going to have one. And so now that scout, watching Dakota you showed us. Every week how well he was doing the fact that he casts, I'm like, holy cow, I have a dog that's going to listen to more than one command and I don't have to coax him back to the blind with a treat.

This is going to be amazing. Yeah. How's training been? He's been honestly a breeze. One of the easiest and pliable dogs that I've had [00:07:00] dogs are just like people. Sometimes you get the hardheaded ones that don't want to do what you want to, but he's always been that. Team player that's really wanting to work with me and that's honestly made it really easy.

I haven't had many hiccups with him. And when you're training dogs, you. run into hiccups with every dog. It just depends on how long that hiccups gonna last, and with him, the small bumps in the road that we ran into were small bumps. They weren't big bumps that we had to take steps back and readdress.

And so he's been honestly really easy to train. That's awesome. I just love dogs. I've always loved dogs. But seeing what you guys do, it's an art form. It's not like I've seen other dogs that have been trained, but watching you guys handle them and correct them and even early on, I think the funniest story about the first time we came down here, when we went to drop them off, Kristen, you were like, okay, so I've seen a couple things that you can work on and Scout was in here with us and he was what, six months old.

And I was like, scout here, come here, buddy here, come here. And you're like, okay, [00:08:00] just let's work on giving them one command and don't give them a command that you can't reinforce. And I'm like, okay, yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. And maybe 15 seconds later, I'm like here, Hey, here. And he just started laughing.

I'm like, crap, I suck. I could never be a dog trainer. But you told us about the dog love languages pretty early on. Yeah. And I was like, this is crazy. I never thought of it. I just figured you make a dog listen, somehow, but you, it seems like with your, the art form that you guys have dialed in, you really haven't figured it out.

Yeah. So whenever we started the business in 2006, it was Honestly, it's challenging on our marriage because we moved to a completely different place. We had new schools for the kids and trying to support ourselves on this little business that we were hoping was going to work. It was just a lot of stress and someone shared the five love languages book with us for our marriage.

And at the same time, he's trying to teach me how to be a dog trainer. And I'm like, [00:09:00] he's showing me this stuff and I'm like, dogs have the same love languages that people do. So I started figuring it out. And just started using utilizing it in my training and it has worked out. It honestly has never failed for me in all the years we've been doing it.

So I thought she was crazy. I'll be honest with you. When I first heard her hold on a husband thinking his wife's crazy, even though it's a great idea. I thought there's no way people are going to buy into this. This is crazy. Nope. Nobody's going. Nope. You can't apply human emotions to a dog in People like to do it, but it's, in science, it's not really factual, or at least but it helps people it really is I've grown and, I really like it now.

Yeah. What have you found to be like the easiest love language to train with dogs? Treats. Treats. Yeah, so basically, with human love languages, it's words of affirmation, and then for the dog, it's [00:10:00] verbal praise physical touch for people petting for dogs. Quality time is quality time acts of service is like a retrieve or something you're interacting with them and then treats is the gift giving and it's just the quickest instant gratification.

If you've got a dog that or is motivated by treats, you can get the quickest results. Quality time is the hardest because you have to invest so much, just like taking long walks with these dogs that have quality, that it's quality time, so that you can build that bond. And our goal is to meet the dog where they are.

And within two weeks, have that dog wanting to work with us in every possible way because we've met the languages that they speak. That's... Yeah, you talked about that early on, like building the trust with the dog, having that relationship. Because once you have that, you're going to get the results with less correction, less problems with the dog.

And what did you [00:11:00] find with Scout? What were his love languages? He, words of praise, petting, treats were his three primary. He's still, he loved to retrieve too, but um, he honestly, he's just naturally a team player. He really made it easy. I was honestly nervous when I got him, because I was like, man, the pressure is on.

If this dog is hard headed or strong willed, I'm gonna have, we even talked about it. He was like, I hope this works, but I got him in the first day. I was like, okay, this is like super easy. And just as I was building that relationship with him, he never showed me that he had it like, a really I don't know how to quite explain it.

He just if I gave him treats, he was just like, okay, that's what you want from me. Okay. Praise. And then like retrieves, he was like, okay, you want me to, You don't want me to sit i'll sit so that I can get a retrieve I mean anything to work with me and y'all deserve a lot of credit for this because part of the Process of raising a [00:12:00] pup from zero to six months old is You know, the two things we look at is genetics and environment.

And you guys did the right thing with the environment. Y'all did a good job raising him. He was very relational. He was a people pleaser. He wanted to be with people. We get dogs, a lot of dogs that are just stuck in the backyard for the first six months of their life. They don't, they have very little human interaction.

They've been stuck in the backyard with maybe with another dog. Maybe the couple has another dog and they just put them together. So that dog, all it knows is... Other dogs. Yeah, it's desire to please a human being is zero So y'all obviously got a head start out real good with Scout. Yeah I was afraid that he was gonna be a damaged dog after seeing our daughter with him because she just would not I'm like this dog's trying to crawl away to save his life and she's just like Scott.

You're my best friend I'm never letting go now. He was a good dog from the get go. He had some medical stuff early on But it was intimidating for me because like we get here to your facility, we see the kennels, we see the trailers and the trucks and all the dogs. [00:13:00] And Rody, you took me, I don't remember where even on the property it was, but you're like, Oh yeah, all these 80 ribbons I got with my one dog.

And I'm like, dude, I don't even know if my dog is going to get a part taste participation trophy, So we'll see how this goes. But then you were showing me down there, like some serious level stuff where you're like sending a dog 200 yards on a retrieve and your cat, you're like, I could send it straight to it, but I'm just going to handle it to show you.

And I'm like, this is unbelievable. I'm like, I think I need to come down here for 11 months to get trained because I'm going to ruin this dog right away. Scouts been on the love languages thing on what his are, when he's really. early in the training. And he's doing obedience. You're very hands on with him on a leash and stuff.

So it's easier to give them treats. But as you get out to the field, you're teaching him stuff from a distance. So treats don't really apply that much at that point. And so that's when it takes a good dog that's going to want to. of affirmation, right? When you tell him good boy, [00:14:00] he's going to react to it and respond well.

And then his second one was praise or I'm sorry, like physical touch. So when he would come back from a bird and I tell him good boy and love up on him, that meant the world to him. And so to be able to communicate to him what I wanted. from a distance was good. So he could, in the advanced program, he would take the correct cast and I would tell him good that he was like, heck yeah, okay, awesome.

That's what you want. And then, give him another cast. And he takes that cast until I'm good. And it slowly gets better and better. A cast is a hand signal for those who don't know what that means. You're directing them and you can use a whistle to stop them and then use a hand signal to direct them or a cast when we say cast.

Yeah, it's funny how invested I am now into like training and understanding the lingo And then like I mentioned before watching the whole crown series championship. Every day, Sam was sitting next to me. She's okay, where are they at? How are they doing? How's Kerrigan? How's Dakota?

How's Michael? How's Rhodey? Who's in the lead? What was that last run? And I'm like, this is it. The whole world of dog training, it just [00:15:00] blows my mind. And even when we pulled in here today, I was like, they really do need a TV show. This could be Duck Dynasty with dogs. This is the coolest, the whole setup.

And obviously you guys have spent. How many years building this all and putting a team together and like investing in the property. It's unbelievable. Yeah, I don't know. We started in 2006. Yeah, 2006. That's been 17 years ago. And I've been training since 90, probably 95, 96 I'd say, over 25 years.

hoW has everything evolved since the start? Obviously starting the two of you and really figuring this out. But now having people who They've brought multiple dogs to you over the years. I'm on my second. Most of my clients are second generation dog. They're bringing me their next generation dog.

A lot, so much has changed. Not only the training techniques I've had to adjust and the old school methods were pretty harsh. And what we're talking about here tonight is new stuff. It's relational stuff There [00:16:00] wasn't a real late and you didn't care about a relationship 30 years ago It was do it because I said to do it type stuff Yeah, and a dog like scout would have probably never made it through a program like that but the fact you can build a relationship and get a dog motivated to do things for you it's not it's a little more work, but it's a much Pleasant more a much more pleasant result.

Yeah, because the dog and you have you could go on a hunt and Have you know, like we talked about elk hunting and stuff and we don't I didn't see an elk but had a great trip still because of the experience Yeah, you can do the same thing with your dog Scout y'all can go out one day and I remember this vividly an example I went out on the hunt one time with my dog Cajun years ago and Shot one bird and she made the most incredible retrieve I remember I never forget it because the bird sailed down to the back of the pond and I sent her and she Swims across and she gets out where the bird should be and it's not there And then she starts wandering up the hill and she ran a hundred yards up the hill and all of a sudden comes up with That duck and I would have never thought to go up there and look [00:17:00] for that duck But she trailed it and it was the best one of the best memories I'll ever have and we only killed one bird Yeah, it was cool.

Hey, that's The story of my life hunting in Southwest, Missouri, like we're going to kill one bird at a time if we're lucky. No, I'm so excited. I've already got trips planned. Like I'm going, Sam might not approve of all of them, but I've got so many trips planned. I'm like now that I've got a dog, like something that I can be proud of and then not have to call my buddies.

Like I will be totally content just going and sitting by the pond by myself in the mornings, bring him along. If we don't shoot anything, oh but it's like dove season pigeon season. I don't really care if it flies or has feathers like I'm gonna try to get him on it. So Why don't you walk through the process?

Like maybe once you first get a dog or your first dog, you know How does that work? So whenever we first get him in? Hold on before you begin because I want to make sure this is clear by listening if the cheapest thing [00:18:00] you can do is buy a well bred dog. Spend the money on a dog that has the genetic potential to be something.

If you're out there trying to shave pennies, and you're gonna buy a dog with a poor pedigree, you're gonna bring us something that we can't do anything with. If they don't have the desire to retrieve in them genetically, and they don't want to do it, there's nothing we can do. We're not gonna make them do something they don't want to do.

Yeah. So our job is to take what's genetically... predispositioned in them and make it foster and shine. And just because it has retriever at the back of its name does not mean that it's going to be able to retrieve. Checking, learning, educating yourself on pedigrees and things like that make a huge difference because anybody will tell you, it's got, the breeder said that it's got a hunting, comes from hunting bloodlines.

Every retriever. Has hunting bloodlines. That's a good point. Every single retriever does. That's why a lot of the titles and stuff like that we get on them, [00:19:00] that proves that, whenever we do breedings, we make sure that the parents have been have competed so that we can say, and people will say oh, we're not interested in competition.

I'm like, it's not, that's not the point. The point is that we're proving to you that these dogs are capable of doing what you're looking for. Yeah. So it may not clearances it. It can retrieve definitely, but it comes with other abilities. It's intelligent, it's trainable. There's a lot of things that come with that.

Those titles, not just the retrieving side of it. So a dog that's trainable, it's very important. Yeah, it proves that, it's got it in it. I knew nothing about the titles, all the numbers in front. And when I got that dog off facebook marketplace, I He's Oh yeah, here's his pedigree. And I'm like, I don't even know what this means, but okay, thanks.

And I've got, it's a family tree. And I'm like, cool. Now I know it's great grandparents names, whatever. Then when I went with that trainer, he's Oh, let me see the paperwork on it. And he starts looking at it. He's I've trained [00:20:00] some of these dogs and it actually came from. I think, I don't remember how far back, but like one of its one of the males, three generations back was the first ever chocolate national championship or champion.

And he's this is a good dog. He's it's a bummer. It's seven years old and it was home trained. Like basically it's got to be a neon ball and it'll retrieve it. Otherwise you're screwed. But. To know that it had the genetic capability, of becoming something great is good to know as a starter.

Someone's not bringing you a Border Collie to be an awesome retriever. Yeah, one like, like he said earlier, there's genetics and there's environment. Yeah, you can have the genetics, but if you don't have the environment around the dog to... for them to be successful, then that dog, like your dog you're talking about, just doesn't quite become to its potential.

And starting out with good genetics, and then you build that environment with, as a puppy, starting when you get them at, when they're probably, what, six weeks old, we start teaching them the foundation of what [00:21:00] we want. And eye contact, focusing on us respect, all that kind of stuff.

You build that foundation and it's going to expand from there and grow.

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And you guys talked about it early on when I brought Scout, I was like what should I expect? And you're like, we get them through obedience and basic gun dog. And we see what his potential is, he might be great. It might be like, that's about what you're going to get out of him.[00:23:00]

And the fact that you guys can see that, you're working with them every day, obviously. But to know, it's good to know that it's no matter how good of a trainer you bring a dog to, if it's, if it doesn't have it in it. Like it's not just going to be a master dog just because you spend a lot of time with it.

Yeah. I always tell people, you raise your kids and you'd love from all to be an NFL football player, but what's the realistic goal? They may not make it out of high school if they're lucky, they'll play college. And if they're a very small percentage, they'll make it the NFL.

It's the same for dogs. Some of them are going to be good high school football players, and some of them are going to be college, and those very few can make the NFL. Yeah that's good. Sorry, I cut you off early. It's totally fine. It's okay. Yeah, start to finish. I did scouts basic obedience side of things.

of his gundog program. So in our program, the, our gundog program is a four to six month program. And so the first phase is the basic obedience, and I'm going to divide that up as well. So the first [00:24:00] two weeks of the six to eight weeks is what we call our relationship building phase. So that's where I'm doing like, Just flooding him with all of the love languages so that I can see which ones are he is he going to Be the most willing to work for and so in those first two weeks We can informally get everything taught from here.

He'll sit down and place As well as every day we're getting throwing retrieves for him introducing him to the water making sure that he's seen live birds whatever We know that he's going to need once he gets to the field. Our job is to make sure that he has exposure to all of that. So that we can make sure and tell whoever is his field trainer.

which was Dakota, his field trainer. Okay, this is what I saw. These are the things that you're gonna kinda need to be looking for once you get him in the field. And we do all of that, we do all of the retrieving and all the gundog stuff throughout the whole, every single day we do stuff like that with him.

But the first two [00:25:00] weeks is that relationship building phase. The second two weeks is where we're actually starting to Formalize the commands so they're not informal anymore. We're doing, starting to show them, okay, sit means sit. Even if there's another dog walking around or, it's not just sit until he decides to get up anymore.

So we get all of those commands formally taught. And then the last two weeks is when we are taking all of those and putting them in heavy distractions and conditioning him to the e caller and letting him have a lot more distance and a lot more. Room to, like we'll go for long walks and I recall him back and have him come back to me and come into a heel swing position and just conditioning all of the things that he's learned in the first four weeks.

You're basically testing them at that point, right? Yeah. Yeah. You've worked your way up from the learning through the quizzes and now you're on the six week final exam type stuff. That's so interesting to me. Cause like I've, I've [00:26:00] watched some videos and thought, okay, I can do this.

And I've had plenty of friends that have. bought dogs or found dogs or got them at the back of a Walmart parking lot out of a panel van and It's oh we can do this. We can figure this out and it doesn't ever turn into anything, like they'll retrieve here and there. But the fact that you guys have years and years, and I don't know if you've got to count on dogs, but hundreds of dogs that you've trained and you've learned these things to just streamline the process, like getting the videos.

It's amazing to see the progression in a week, in a month, in two months, yeah. What I was gonna say though is like not every dog's cookie cutter. So you've got to learn. What kind of dog that is and how they learn and you've got to train for that dog. You can't just train, okay, here's our standards.

Here's what we do, blah, blah, blah. Go through the line. It's okay. What does this dog need to be able to be successful on the place command or, to improve marking or whatever it is, you've got to kind of mold it for that dog. It's not just, [00:27:00] okay, here's the, here's what you got to do and do it.

It's you got to fit it in for that dog. You gotta be able to think outside the box. There's, as a trainer, when you've been doing as long as I have, I've seen it before. I've seen your kind try this thing 16 times and it's not gonna work now and it never worked before, but I got to remember that dog hasn't Yeah.

I've never tried that on me before. Yeah. 15 before it did. And so I have to be patient and, but I have a certain amount of tools in my toolbox that I'll pull out and I'll be like this one needs a Crescent wrench, and I'll put the Crescent wrench on. This one needs a pair of pliers.

And then sometimes you got to dig way deep in that toolbox and find a tool you haven't used in a long time. Maybe you've never used and they'll contact me all the time. My other trainers and say, Hey, I've got a dog is doing this in the swim by drill. Have you ever seen this before? And I'm like, yeah, I've seen a couple of times.

Here's what I tried and this worked, try a couple things and see what, what happens. Yeah. At the same time though, you run into things that he hasn't ran into and for whatever reason, that's just how the dogs mental, that's how they mentally work. And then we bounce ideas off of all the trainers in here.

Okay why don't we try this? So why don't we try [00:28:00] that? And you play with it until it works for that dog. That's the nice thing about having honestly the amount of trainers that we have because we're able to, there's even sometimes we'll have dogs that just don't work with a certain person very well.

And so we, we have actually transitioned them to other trainers and it worked better, and having that, and being able to, hand them over to a different trainer and just say, okay, here, this is what I've tried. This is the challenges that I've had. Now you try and let's just see if we can get A different outcome.

You're going to see that tomorrow when you start working with him. Because he's going to, scouts are going to be like, I remember this guy. This guy, I could do this and I could do that. He's going to yell my name a hundred times. This is going to be real fun. And so we're going to have to teach him, nope, things are different this time.

Yeah. This is a new person. We get a lot of it happens all the time. We have people that think that we are programming a computer and think that we're just going to be able to, we can get this dog taught this, but it's through [00:29:00] relationship building and, repetition. Now it's there.

Now it's us. Our job is to teach. You will teach so for instance, we're going to teach Scout how to work for you and to teach you and then you guys will have that connection and you'll be able to move forward with it. So we did all the dirty work, the hard work, and now we're going to be able to just, and now all you have to do is just condition what has already been taught.

Yeah. And there's just as much teaching the owners as there is teaching the dogs. It's harder. Cause if we, it's harder. Yeah. If we can train the dog. I'm probably a lot more stubborn than he is. We can train the dog, but if the owner doesn't know what they're doing when they take the dog home, then that training was not worth a thing.

And that's one of her biggest struggles when Kristen started, learning how to train dogs. She'd put all this, just. Poor every ounce of effort into training this dog. And then the owner would show up and you could tell the owner where there wasn't listening, wasn't paying attention. We could both tell just in the behavior that this owner was probably going to take the dog home and not do half of what we had trained the dog to do.

And she would be so upset. She's I spent so much [00:30:00] time with this dog. And I'm like. Babe, you were contracted to do a service. Did you do the best you could do? Yeah, I did the best. The dog's really nice. That's all you can do. Once I took the dog home, it's on them. And the owners, nowadays more than ever, they show up and they want to buy a brand new car off the car lot and they think I can jump in the seat and drive it and it's just like driving a car.

And it's not. It's an animal. It's not a machine. And you've got to learn how to handle behaviors and how to adjust. Yeah, it's cool to sing like you guys train higher level dogs that were more advanced because we came down here In between dropping them off and now and got to see you guys compete and I'm sitting here and I'm like, all I was hanging out at best retrievers for a couple days I think I got the feel for this and watching you guys run competition dogs, and I'm like, okay I know where that bird is And you send it and I'm like, why didn't they blow the whistle?

What are they doing? What are they doing? And you just watch one dog and the other dog might do the same thing, but you know how it's going to respond. And so maybe you do have to give it a correction, but it's I know, I put them in the right [00:31:00] place. He's going to get there. I want to let them work. And then all of a sudden he comes back with the bumper without any correction.

And I'm like, these guys are wizards. I don't know. I don't understand it. It's exactly what you said. Each dog's different and you can't treat each one like a computer or a car or, they all have their own personalities and getting to know them. determines how you're going to handle them.

Yeah. Sometimes you play that, you play a hero and then you end up at zero. You think your doll is going to do this. And then today they decided to do something different, but they do have natural tendencies. You learn their personalities and their traits and what they tend to do.

And you play off that. But sometimes you think they're going to go left and they go right. And that one time out of 20, they went right. You go down in a ball of flame. How many dogs do you guys have currently that are competing at a high level? It depends on the time of the year.

I would say I just got back from master national. We took 24 dogs to master national. Me and one of my trainers, Kerrigan, she ran a dog. [00:32:00] And we're regular hunt test weekends. We're running anywhere from 30, 20 to 35 dogs. Probably typically in the spring and the fall. We're running a, I'd probably say Between junior to master level.

We're probably running 30 to 40 dogs. Yeah holy cow, I think the most passes we've the record passes we've had in one weekend was 58 passes Oh my goodness. That was I think we took three rigs. Yeah, that was a big weekend. So with master national do you have to qualify? Do you have to get a certain amount of wins or points or how does that work throughout the season?

Yeah. So Master National, between August 1st of one year to August, first of the next year, you have to get qualified to go run the event. And that requires six passes. Six master passes, okay. In that times period. And typically I try to get three of 'em in the fall and three of 'em in the spring.

And if a dog passes Master National, they get two credits towards the next year's passes. So they only have to go get four. Okay. So it's. It's hard because you have to get qualified and you spend all year training and getting [00:33:00] qualified and then you go run the event and you fail and you're back to square one, you start all over again.

Oh man. Yeah, I can only imagine how that would, feel, but then also, some dogs are your dogs, some dogs are clients dogs and they probably have certain expectations, but it's like on any given day, the weather conditions in watching the crown series. It was really interesting hearing the commentators talk about it, and they were like, Okay, you see how the shadows shifted from the first dog to now dog number 40?

They were like, watch how the dogs react to this and how they run. And it's the same dog might be able to do it perfectly on the first run, and it might get 100 points or 200 points three hours later just because of weather. I can't imagine the pressure and like the frustration that you guys must feel on things like that.

Yeah. I had a dog that I, he was going for his third master national pass, which would have been for the hall of fame. So here [00:34:00] we are his third year of training. He's five years old, pretty much trained his whole life. Been one of the most consistent dogs I've ever had. Coming in with two straight master national passes.

He's hardly failed any tests and he goes out in the first day. And that was for his hall of fame. His owner was there literally ready to take him home when he passed because he was done. Now the dog is going to have to stay a whole nother year to do it again. Oh my goodness. There's a lot of. A lot of weight, a lot of stress, a lot of disappointments.

Yeah, but having good clients makes a huge difference when you've got clients that are nitpicking you or put more pressure on you than you already have on you when you're running those big competitions. Makes it a lot tougher, but when you got those good clients that are understanding It's not a robot.

And, you're not, it's a test and the dogs don't have collars on, it's a, you're testing the hunting scenario and dogs aren't perfect. And in the SRS, a dog takes a right turn when the bird's a foot to their left. Then that can put you out of the competition you've been training for all year.

And so to have [00:35:00] clients that are understanding of that. That makes a huge difference. Less pressure on you. That's a good point. What would you recommend to people listening who might be looking for a trainer to bring their dog to? And then also, what would you tell them, how, how should they manage their expectations coming into a training scenario?

So first, usually what I always tell them, cause I'll get phone calls and I used to, I don't answer the phone anymore, which is nice, but when I used to get phone calls, I would I would tell them, here's some things that you need to do. Anybody that you're calling, you need to make sure that they'll allow you to do a tour of the facility.

You need to watch the dogs in the field. You need to, when you're walking through the kennels, watch to see if, when the trainer is walking through there, if the dogs shy away. Or do the dogs come to, because the dogs are going to communicate to you a lot about what is going on in the facility. And they're training because the dogs, your dog can't.

Tell you yeah, and [00:36:00] so I always tell them ask for a tour if they don't do tours Red flag make sure that you reach out to multiple ones and Just make sure you know There's just a lot of trainers out there that won't let you just come in hang out in the kennel They won't let you come watch the dogs another question is how often do we get to work with the dog

like he said earlier, we're gonna teach the dog, but it is just as important, if not more important, for you to know what the dog knows. Because if you don't know what they know, then it's all gonna go, and it's gonna go away. And make sure how many times are they gonna let you come out to train and invest time.

A lot of times there are some trainers out there that they'll just go to send the dog home and the owners come to pick it up and they just run through a checklist of things and then they send the dog home and we spend just in obedience alone, we'll spend an hour and a half to two hours with you just [00:37:00] You know, explaining things and doing hands on, teaching you how to do everything, so that we know that we've done our best in communicating to not only the dog, but also to you, so that you can...

When a client comes out a lot for a competition dog, and they want to run the dog, it's almost more satisfaction with the owner getting the pass on the dog, or the title on the dog, or whatever it is. Because not only did I train the dog, but I also trained the handler or the owner. And so for them to be able to go be successful at the level that the dog can run at is, to me it's really, it's a lot of satisfaction because I, those owners came out enough for me to be able to teach them what they needed to be able to communicate with the dog and run the dog to its potential.

Yeah. Unfortunately, there's no certification. No, you don't have to go to college. You don't have to go get a test to be a retriever trainer or [00:38:00] a dog trainer in general. There are some places out there that make people certified behavioral specialists, they call them. But there is no certification process.

There's it's word of mouth is a big one. That's my favorite go to is if you've had a dog train there, were you happy, and if you were great if you weren't my one look somewhere else. And the other thing is their success rate. If you go on the Internet. There's a couple of websites where we use that we use to sign up dogs for tests.

And if you go search that person and look at the tests and see how successful they are, if you pull their name up and they've, they went to this test and they ran 10 dogs and I failed eight of them. There's a red flag. Yeah. They've passed nine of them. That's pretty good numbers, and look at all levels.

If they're just running the lower level stakes, the junior stuff, and that's all they're running probably not a well rounded trainer to get a master dog. Yeah, exactly. If you want a master dog, then go find a guy that's running master tests and doing well and being successful at it. That makes sense. It's funny.

It's not dog related at [00:39:00] all, but Sam and I went and watched MMA fights in Springfield one time. And I was like, man, I want to get back in the gym. Did you just jujitsu or Muay Thai or something like that? And we went and watched these local fights a bunch of different cities brought fighters in And literally every single Springfield fighter lost that night.

And I was like, I don't think I'm going to sign up for any of these gyms. And it's the same thing. Yeah. If they're not, if they're not passing dogs or they don't have a good track record, find somebody Who does watch the attitude of the dogs to when they're running or when they're like she was saying in the kennel, but when they're also outside of the kennel, is the dog's tail wagging?

That's if it's not wagging, that's a red flag. It is wagging in the dogs. Happy, excited looking up at the handler. Then that's all green flags. That's good signs. That's pretty much how we built our business. I had person after person come to me and say, I saw you run a hunt test.

Your dogs were very happy. Their tails were wagging. They were definitely wanting to please you. And that's why we [00:40:00] came to you. Yeah. So that's what you're looking for. Man, that's cool. I mean I can attest every dog that you guys get out They're just like fired up ready to go just looking at you like put me to work.

Please I want to do this I want to do this and it's just cool I've seen other dogs that come out and they're just like come on not again Like I keep going back to dogs that we've had in the past. We've had some stupid dogs Or you know just didn't have the time put into them Alright, how many of you guys hate dealing with tangled up rope?

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What's next for best retrievers. You guys have built an amazing place here. You've I don't even know how many employees do you have now? We have seven full time trainers and then five or six other staff as well as far as this year goes we're starting to wind down for a little while starting to catch our breath We're pretty busy from January until about the end of October our summer.

Believe it or not is our busiest time That's when we get a lot of boarding trains people going on vacation [00:44:00] dogs that we've trained. We have so many Boarding trains that we don't take dogs that we haven't trained before anymore. We don't board dogs. We only board dogs that we have trained That's how busy our boarding business is and it's nice because an owner goes on vacation They know us they their dog has been here before we know the dog Very easy for us to work the dog and get it what it needs and then send home after a week or two and the Owner gets back on vacation, but I'm going off on a tangent there We're going to slow down here this year for now, for, November and December kind of catch our breath a little bit.

And then we'll pick back up in January, as far as the year goes, about two years ago, we had a pretty big turnover in staff, which we don't have very often. We, a lot of, It's a family business. We treat everybody like family. We eat lunch together every day we come in the house, we all eat together.

It's just a very tight knit group and we liked it. That's why that's how we want it. And about two years ago we had a pretty big turnover. Yeah, I don't, who knows why, but it, we just had a big turnover. We had a lot of new people come in [00:45:00] and honestly at the time I thought it was the worst thing that happened to us.

And now looking back, I think it was good for us. We've got a lot of new people that brought a lot of new things to the table. Just a different crew, but a crew I'm very happy with. I'm very proud of. Just a lot of motivated people that are doing a great job for us and couldn't be happier now.

So the future is bright. Yeah. Did you expect this? Like at the beginning or did you have this vision at the beginning or was it just like man, this seems fun I want to train dogs. I want to do this because this is no joke this is like a world class operation you guys have here.

Yeah, I had no idea You know when I was I graduated from college Graduated with a master's degree believe it or not and was looking for jobs and stumbled into a dog training position It's been four years working for them. And then we went on our own and she wasn't involved at all In fact, I told her I'm sure it's like what you did, you said, babe, I want to chase this dream of mine.

I want to go do this and I want to see where it takes us. And that's what I did. I told her, [00:46:00] I said, I just, I feel like this is the right move. And if it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out. But if we don't try it, we'll never know. And so we chased a dream and it just took off from there.

After I learned, I got a good skill set after four years of doing it and went to a bunch of seminars, bunch of workshops, learned a lot of new skills. We went on our own and. Eventually I trained her and then she made the decision or you didn't make the decision you made the suggestion that we need to hire somebody and I was scared to death because I'm like I just thought it was just gonna be me and you me and that's it Best tree was just me and then she said we need to hire somebody and I said if we hire somebody and it Doesn't work out.

We're responsible for that person. We have to make sure we can pay them and it worked that person became two and four and six and now here we are and I had no idea to ever be this big. No idea. The first kennel building we built was 25 kennels and he was like, we will never fill these up and we have 71 kennels that stay full.

[00:47:00] Oh my goodness. And we could build another building easily cause we have a waiting list. That's amazing. That's just a testament to you guys and how well you do the one training that you do here, but the relationships that you have with the owners. Nobody fails up. Nobody stays.

Yeah, and even from the first time we pulled in at night and it's freezing cold Literally our rv the water lines froze on it and you guys were like And I'm like, stay inside, just come inside. And I'm like, are we going to get killed here? We've never met these people in person. They're like, yeah, bring Scout down here.

You can stay in our house out in Texas. I'm like, Oh this isn't going to turn out well. And now it's we text all the time, just random stuff. You'll text me pictures of hunts or we'll talk about different things. And I'm like, man, and even today, Kristen, you're like. This better not be the last time you guys come down.

I know. It makes me sad. I keep getting pictures of all these pigs on the property. I'm coming back down all the time. But no, that's it's [00:48:00] been awesome coming down and getting to know you guys and I won't take up the whole night talking about this but I do want to find out what's the plan for Scout tomorrow?

Because it's I mean is it weird? I can't imagine. Going through training like this with dogs and some of the dogs for years. And then all of a sudden it's and now they're gone. Like you build a relationship with them. Yeah. So you're probably like, yeah, bring it back sometime. Really tough.

Especially those dogs that are here for a while. It's tough just in general. Doesn't matter how long the dog's here, but especially those dogs that you got good relationship with the clients and you really liked the dog and stuff. It is tough. But tomorrow the plans are we're going to get up and do an obedience session, teach you all the obedience side of it and the dog relationship building and essentially the foundation of all the training that he's done.

And then we're going to teach y'all how to do a little bit of drill work because when y'all came out last time, we did a little bit of gun dogs. So y'all are familiar with how to send him and that kind of stuff, but how to actually handle him and run him on blind retrieves to a bird that he doesn't know where it's at.

So there's a lot to that. We're going to teach you the different [00:49:00] aspects to that. And then we'll work him in the field a time or two and let you get the feel for him and let him get the feel for you running. My heart's kind of pounding right now with the pressures on. You'll probably let him work on a bunch of different dogs too.

Yeah, we'll let you work a bunch of different dogs. That way you get comfortable and different personalities. I don't ruin my dog right out of the gate. Yeah, that's good. No, that's cool. Everybody wants to jump straight into the game, right? They don't want to do the practice. But tomorrow you're going to have to do the practice.

Because you can't, if you don't know the plays, Then you can't be playing the game without, knowing what's going to happen. And the drills that we're going to give you are things that are lifetime maintenance type stuff. It's not just, you're going to do it tomorrow and then take him hunting for the rest of his life and he'll be fine.

It's not, we talked about, it's not a robot. You're going to have to do some of these drills at home. You're going to call and say, he's been, I try to send them this direction and he goes this direction. What do I do? And we're going to say, remember this drill we did. Go back and do that for the week, do five sessions of that drill and you'll [00:50:00] see him get better.

Or you'll say he's not, delivering the bird to hand. What do I do? Here's what we do. We're going to show you all that stuff. And what's going to, you'll be lucky if you remember about 30 percent of it, to be honest with you. I told her I'm wearing a GoPro on my chest tomorrow so that I don't have to try to remember it all.

But we're always available. Yeah. And we do this. My phone rings 24 seven from clients and stuff. And especially during hunting season, we'll get a lot of calls. Hey, my dog did this. It's okay. It's this part of it. Your dog. The first hunting season is gonna be rough. There's gonna be a lot of learning to do.

I always tell people if you take your dog hunting You're going to be lucky if that dog sees half the birds that you shoot because they're not used to, to bird flying over the treetops coming at you. They're looking out in the field for that guy that's been throwing them that bird out in the field, the whole time.

So there's going to be some transition stuff and. to be patient and remember the hardest thing you're going to have to do is does the dog know what they're supposed to do and therefore I must correct them for not doing it or do they [00:51:00] just not know what's going on and I need to show them a little better.

Yeah. That's the hard, you're going to be like, man, I don't know. Does he really know this? Is he pulling my, trying to pull the rug out from under me here. And then sometimes he will be, and Dakota will tell you, Oh yeah, he's totally fooling you. He knows better than that. Or Dakota might go, nah, I don't think he really understands in that situation.

So here's what you need to do. Man, that's good to know. With the kind of dog y'all have, he's not going to try to pull any, not going to, most likely he's not going to try to pull any tricks on you. He wants to do what you want him to do, as long as you show him what you want him to do. Yeah.

And rather than getting hard on the collar, repetition is the best correction for him. So repeating it and showing him what you want, then you're going to get success. Yeah. With your dog. No. Worst case, if he doesn't do what I want, I can just bring him back down here every other month and hang out for a week.

She's a pig. And today's training, everybody uses electric collars. E collars is what we recommend. That's the only way to reinforce a command at a distance. Yeah. It's about being consistent. And you said earlier about saying here, but not reinforcing it. [00:52:00] If you're going to give him commands at a distance and you don't have the ability to reinforce it, he's going to learn that at a distance he doesn't have to behave.

And so that's what the e caller is. You may have the transmitter hung around your neck and the entire duck hunt never need it. Yeah. But, that one time when he jumps out in front of you and he sees that big flock of ducks, putting their feet out and spreading their wings about to land and you go to shoot, and he jumps out in front of you, And you have a dangerous situation presented for you and you can get on to him with that e caller and make him go I don't care what situation is you're not jumping out in front of my gun barrel.

Yeah, and you Make that a teachable moment. It's gonna matter. Yeah. I saw not too long ago I thought this is really a neat way to think about it is that the e caller is a seat belt We all get in their cars We automatically put our seat on whether we're gonna be we don't know if we're gonna be in a wreck or not We don't know if there's gonna be a life threatening situation.

That's gonna come across our trip to wherever we're going. You just put the seatbelt on. The e caller, he's been trained in a healthy way [00:53:00] on e callers. There's a lot of different talk about e callers, but it's just like anything, you can use it wrong. He's been trained, and he is happy to have it put on.

He is excited to have it on. And whenever he gets it put on, it's like his seatbelt. It's a way for you to reinforce when you need to for safety reasons, or, for his safety if he's going to be sitting next to you and you're going to be shooting and he goes to get out in front of you, that's like you having a seatbelt on him.

Yeah. A lot of people don't realize dogs, you only have 1. 3 seconds to praise or discipline a dog for a behavior. So that's why the e caller is also good for you for like in the field because you're able to, Tell him this is good, this is not good, and you're able to use an e caller to be able to reinforce whatever it is that you're trying to teach him from a distance.

Have they, do they make, like on, on callers, can you like program different sounds into them also? Has anybody done that for a positive? Sound if he does what you want or a [00:54:00] negative if he doesn't there's been collars that emit certain tones and stuff Yeah, other people use the vibrate button. It's got a pager button that you can use.

We don't use any of that We use a we use the lowest level Correction that will change the behavior. Okay. So if your dog is breaking on you Every time you pull up to shoot a duck and he takes off and the first time he does you get him on a 20 let's say your caller our callers are dog truck callers.

They go from 0 to 127 Don't ask me what 127 is just to top in that's some weird Arbitrary number, but most dogs work on 30. Some work a little harder, depends on the pain tolerance they have. If he breaks on a 20 and you correct him and he says, nope, I'm getting that duck. The next time I'd have that collar turned up to a 30.

And if he tries it again, the next time I turned to a 40. Let's say you stop him at a 40. He goes, okay, that's too high. I'm not happy with that. I'm coming back. So he comes back to you and you say, okay, now you turn it back down to a 20. Yeah. And then if he tries it again, you might [00:55:00] have to go, okay, one more time at 40.

That's what it takes. Okay. Yeah, and then he goes, okay I've, I get the message, I'm not gonna do that again. And the thing in those type of situations you have to think of is that you're creating a safer environment for him. A lot of times people just get, oh, but you are creating a safer by even having those type of situations when he goes to break, even if you're not shooting or the gun's not, he's learning that his job is to stay next to your side until you send him for safety reasons.

The safety of you shooting him, it's the safety of other people, other hunters that are with you that don't know that he's going out there, or don't know that he's out in the decoys and other birds are coming, I've heard of guys say the same thing, in the field, I think it was my cousin, maybe it was another guy that I hunted with, they had a dog.

Luckily, it had a collar and it was trained and they were hunting out by this county road in a cornfield. They shot a goose, sent the dog after the goose wasn't fully dead, and it's flop, it's flapping and running trying to take off and it's headed straight for the [00:56:00] road. And they're like, luckily, we were able to stop the dog and correct it.

And because that goose went straight across the road and they're like, the goose didn't get hit, but you could just imagine an 18 wheeler come by or some lady in her minivan. Is that dog's trying to catch that goose. Yeah. But to answer your question, the tone and the vibrate, we don't use it.

We use the correction level that's necessary to change your behavior. I don't think a dog can hear a tone out in the field if they're swimming or running through splashing water If they're panting really hard and loud from the heat maybe in the texas, dove season during september There's just a lot of situations where that tone is not going to be consistent They're not going to hear it and let's say you use it And you go he's not listening.

Now I'm going to correct him. How do you know he really heard it? Yeah. You need to make sure that you know he heard it and he just, he chose to disobey. And then the pager button, honestly, people use it as warnings and stuff like that. It's like the parent that counts to three, but then doesn't do anything after three.

That's what [00:57:00] you're doing. You're saying one. Two, three and a half, three and three quarters, three and five eighths. And then you're not doing anything. That's what a pager is to a dog. They're going they're not going to do anything. They're going to page me and maybe I'll listen or maybe I won't. It needs to be black and white.

I'm going to give you one chance. And if I have to repeat myself, you understand what's going to happen. If I have to repeat myself. Yeah. And again, it's not an overwhelming amount of e collar pressure. It's just the tiniest amount to make them change their behavior. No, that's good. All right. Last question before we hop off.

Give me the funniest either story that you guys have encountered or that you guys have experienced here, or maybe a funny request from a. Do you guys get any funny I want my dog to poop in the toilet. Can you train him to do that? Y'all think of anything? Cause I got one. Go for it. Go ahead.

I was at a hunt test and this has been a long time ago. So this client's probably not even listening anymore, but this client dropped his dog off. I'd already trained this dog [00:58:00] through the summer and then fall rolls around and he says, I want to bring. My dog and drop him off and get a junior title.

I said, okay he brought him on Thursday and Friday afternoon. I loaded him up, did a little set up with him, loaded him up and off we go to the hunt test with a bunch of other dogs. Friday night, we're at the hotel. We'd eaten, we're airing the dogs, feeding them and whatnot. I noticed something in the back of the dog's hole, where the dog was staying.

And I pulled it out, and it's wet and nasty, and I look at it, and I'm like, What the? I wash it off in the water hose, and it's a sock. The dog had thrown up a sock. And I'm like, Oh my gosh. So I called the owner, and I said, Hey, Rover threw up a sock. Should I be worried, or? Ah, he has a problem, eating stuff like that.

I don't know what his deal is. So I thought, Okay, that was one, just ate one sock. That's okay. The next night, Saturday night, he threw up an even bigger pile, and I started going through this pile, and this was the other sock, it was a matching pair, and two pair of ladies undergarments. [00:59:00] And I didn't have the courage to tell the owner that I had.

Seen that or any, I just pretend that never happened. We never talked about that. I think I would have washed the socks and folded them up and sent them back to him. I had a dog this past summer go through gundog and they named their dog Simba, which I thought it was a cool name until I went to send him on his name or when I went to say sit sounds like Simba.

So he wants to take off whenever I said sit. So I talked to the owners about, Hey, what's a different name you want to send the dog on. And they didn't really come up with anything, they left it to me. My wife, Kara, decided to name him, or send him on Pumba. Pumba. His owners are in the duck blinds and their dog on Pumba.

Pumba. That's awesome. I love that. Anything? I really can't think of anything. Those are good. I like Pumbaa. I'm like, oh man, I, every time I do laundry there's always six different socks missing [01:00:00] and they're always different. It's never like a full set's missing. And now I've got to think about that with a dog.

Here's a question for you that and people listening might know this, but you might or might not, I don't know, why do we send the dog on their name? Why don't we send them on Fetch? So if we're going to send scout for a retrieve, we're going to say his name, right? We're going to shoot a bird and send them on scout, right?

Is it if you're hunting with multiple dogs? Ding ding. I was like, why would that be? Why would that be? We want only if you had a buddy that's got another dog. Hopefully your buddy doesn't have the same name dog as you. If he does, you should be worried. But yeah, so your dog can go and the other dog stays and what we call honors that retrieve.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Hey, thanks. I got the physical touch from my wife. That was so nice. We really do appreciate you guys. We love you guys. And thanks for hopping on and chatting. And I'm excited to get [01:01:00] Scout back and do some work, but not before I get trained first. Thanks for having us.

We enjoyed it. Thank you for having us. Seriously. Yes. Yeah.