Nick Stillwell started training dogs at the young age of 14. He completed a HRCH and a Master title with his dog Gunner at the age of 17. After
Gunner Nick stayed competitive in the hunt test world for several years with other dogs. He grew up around the dog world you can say. Nick
is also a full time guide and outfitter. When it's hunting season, Nick is in the field everyday hunting ducks and geese. Nick's incredible
hunting experience chasing ducks and geese all over the country really separates him from many other trainers. He has seen it all, and knows
exactly how to make the perfect retriever to fit all your hunting needs. Dogs have always been his passion and he truly believes that duck
hunting would not be the same with out a great retriever at his side.
"I train really great hunting dogs, plain and simple." -Nick Stillwell
We start the process by first meeting with you and your companion for an evaluation. This insures that both Nick and you can derive the best plan
for your dog. In the evaluation, Nick will be looking for three important factors, prey drive, train-ability, and to make sure the retriever
is not gun shy. Once this criteria is met, then we can come up with a plan for your dog based on your hunting needs.
Basic Hunting Retriever
Basic Hunting Retriever program
This program is a minimum 3 month program. It will first focus on introducing your retriever to the basic elements of hunting, water, birds,
and guns. This also keeps it fun so the dog and Nick can make a strong bond early on in training. Once the dog is comfortable with these
three important elements the trainer will move into simple obedience. This will be on-leash training, heal, sit, and stay. During obedience
we will still practice marking and hunting scenarios.
This will include guns, water, and birds every day. This is very important when training a young dog. Once Nick feels like the dog has completed
the basic obedience, he will start force fetch. Force fetch is the foundation in retriever training. After the force fetch, your dog will
deliver to hand and fetch on command. But more than that, your dog will understand pressure, and this helps to set the foundation for the
collar and hand signals. Nick will adjust to your dog to ensure that the force fetch is done correctly.
After the force fetch is completed, we will collar condition your dog and start more advanced obedience including off-leash healing and steadiness.
Your companion will also be marking and doing live hunting scenarios daily. This allows Nick and the dog to test and put everything together
in live training situations. After the program is completed, you will have a retriever ready to work for you in the field.
This is on a month-to-month basis. We will focus on multiple marks, hand signals, and whistle training. But beyond that, it gives Nick
more time to customize your companion for your hunting needs. Every hunter is different, and hunts different terrains. For example,
if you field hunt the majority of the time your dog needs to practice long distance marking and handling. If you hunt big open water
your dog needs practice taking casts in the water with lots of decoys. These are just a few examples of many different hunting scenarios.
How ever you hunt, Nick will customize your dog to fit your needs.
One Month Obedience
If you are not sure about hunting and just want an obedient companion Nick can do that too. This will cover the basics on obedience.
The kennels are very nice, four-x-twelve ft galvanized runs. The dogs have their own individual kennel with plenty of space. The
kennel also has a permanent roof and concrete floors. The actual kennel sits on ten acres which is completely closed off by
a dog-proof fence. There is also a four acre training pond on the grounds. Nick has a dog trailer and takes the dogs to different
hunting properties to show them new terrain weekly. Dogs are cared for daily, seven days a week. They have play time everyday
while the kennels are cleaned in the morning.