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One of the greatest things to watch is a young, happy, flashy, accurate marking dog. The first step in training a young dog is gaining his confidence and being able to keep it. When the young dog does the work right, give him a “happy time” so that the next time he jumps out of the crate, he ...


One of the greatest things to watch is a young, happy, flashy, accurate marking dog. The first step in training a young dog is gaining his confidence and being able to keep it. When the young dog does the work right, give him a “happy time” so that the next time he jumps out of the crate, he will be raring to retrieve.

As I start with a young dog, I like to give him a few birds, but I would prefer to thoroughly force break him to retrieve before I make birds a regular occurrence. In most cases, this stops many problems from occurring, such as sloppy pick-up, poor bird handling, hardmouth, and besides, it frequently assures a clean delivery.

In my opinion, trainers of young dogs frequently put too much emphasis on doubles. I have had more success in always starting with a single and adding birds, up to triple, as the dog is successful on each test. Triples for a derby dog do not serve much purpose. The main objective with the young dog is to help him learn how to find that key bird, the memory bird, and if you can concentrate on this, you will survive more trials in good shape.

When you start the water work, remember that you want to have the dog charging out into the water. This is best accomplished on easy singles. When you start on the tougher water marks and when a bank is available for the dog to run, be sure to have enough help to prevent bank running. If you can block him the first time, he is less apt to try it again.

Here are a few handling tips that might be helpful. In training, don’t make a habit of waiting too long to call for a bird. After you think the dog has spotted the gun, call for a bird quickly. You are hoping that the dog will form the habit of paying attention as soon as you sit him down on the line, whether it be in training or a field trial. On the other hand, handlers should give a young dog time to think after he delivers the fist bird and before sending him for a second bird. Take the time to line the dog in the right direction before sending him on a retrieve, particularly the second bird.

Young dogs are great to work with, but always remember, whether your objective is field trial work or hunting, keep the young retriever happy so that he will do his best to please you.

Taken from “The Retriever”, Volume 1, Number 3, November 1969

Hall of Fame Induction

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Swan named to Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame

Sanger Courier, March 31, 2005

Sanger resident Jim Swan was inducted into the Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame during ceremonies at Grand Junction, Tennessee, on Saturday, February 12, 2005. He was chosen by his peers in recognition of his career accomplishments. He received a framed scroll designating his induction. His portrait will hang permanently in the hall, which is part of the National Sporting Dog Museum.

Mr. Swan grew up in Amarillo, where his dad introduced him to the outdoors and taught him to duck hunt. In 1965, a friend helped him find his first dog – a $25 Labrador. He watched his first field trial in Dallas in the spring of 1996 and after two days of watching, he knew he had found his calling. He left his carpenter work behind to work with two well-known professional trainers, from 1966 until January of 1968.

Jim and his wife Marsha then moved to Jonesboro, Tennessee, to manage Ripshin Kennel, and it was there he qualified his first dog for an Open National Championship.

Field trials involve an elite bunch of dogs. They compete, dog against dog, for one winner and three places. There are usually 65-70 dogs in an open all-age competition. They compete all year long to qualify for the annual Open National. A dog has to win at least one field trial and earn other points to qualify for Open National. So during the year, out of 5,000-6,000 dogs, only 85-90 will make it to the Open National.

Open National usually lasts seven days and the dogs are tested equally on land and water. They may have to remember as many as four retrieves falling in different places in distances up to 300 or 400 yards away, and be directed by the handler on blind retrieves up to 500 yards away that only the handler knows the location of.

Jim and his family moved to Lake Dallas, Texas, in 1970 and built Swan Kennel. Ten years later, the Swans relocated to Sanger.

Through the years, Mr. Swan studied and learned from other well-known men in field trials and retriever training. In the world of retrievers and field trials, it’s quite an honor to be inducted into their hall of fame. Only 74 people and 95 dogs have been inducted in the 72-year history of retriever field trials. Jim says he learned from many of those in the hall. “They were my idols.”

Mr. Swan says the retriever sport has been good to him. “I’ve had my share of fine dogs and great owners,” he said. But most of the credit he gives to his family. “My kids worked with me while they were at home, and my wife has always been there to help.” Mr. Swan has two kids, Bobby and Trude. Both are married with their own families. Bobby is the president of Invisible Fence of Greater Dallas, a pet-containment company. Trude is a radiology technician at Pantex in Amarillo.

Field Trial Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Grand Junction, Tennessee, February 12, 2005. Presentation by Aubrey Rembold

In my part of this world, specifically Texas, Jim Swan is a legend. If you have a retriever to be trained, there is but one trainer to engage and that’s Jim Swan. Just attend any Ducks Unlimited show, retriever meet, local or otherwise, field trail, outdoor show or where ever the discussions lead to bird hunting and retriever talk, and for sure the name Jim Swan is going to surface. If you are a retriever owner in my part of the world, Jim Swan is the “trained by” professional retriever trainers name and the signature you want on your dogs certificate of completed training, and none other.

In the interest of being brief, I’ll jump right to where Lucky is today... he’s performing his retriever duties masterfully. He’s completed his full regimen of obedience, voice, whistle and hand signal retriever training. He’s everything I will ever need and want. It wasn’t easy on him or on Jim or on me, as I was an even bigger challenge to Jim. Jim not only trains the dog, the trains the owner/handler as well, all along the way. Just another aspect of the complete professionalism of Jim Swam.

Now for the bottom line, Jim Swan is unmistakably a pro’s pro. Jim obviously exceeds every requirement of the bird dog foundation’s criteria for “excellence in the person and their students, the dogs.” He sees every dog and owner/handler as the unique individuals they are. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses; each needs its own unique training plan and gets it. Jim Swan cares deeply for and about the dog and it’s owner/handler.

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