Labrador retrievers, besides being one of the more popular dogs in the United States, are a very versatile dog. They can serve many purposes, all of which depend on the wishes of the owner. Some people get a Labrador retriever for their excellent qualities as a family pet. In some cases, the Labrador is trained for a certain services such as service dog, therapy dog or Seeing Eye dog. We must not forget one of their first purposes of years ago - their use as hunting dogs. Labradors were originally bred for waterfowl hunting, where they would go in the water to retrieve the birds as they were shot. They were also used many years ago to help the fishermen in Newfoundland bring in the fish they caught. Their coat has certain qualities that repelled water, so they were the perfect choice for water activities. After all, the fishermen didn't want a dog that would drag a lot of water into their boats.
Labradors are full of energy and require plenty of exercise to avoid them indulging in destructive behavior out of boredom. Hunting is the perfect choice to keep them going and is a sport the lab loves to participate in. Many labs participate in field training; this is training them to retrieve on land and in water as well as by whistle and hand commands as a way to learn blind retrievals. Many places sell Labrador retrievers that are trained to your specifications. You can buy a Lab with just the basic obedience training and minimal knowledge of hunting or you can buy a fully trained hunting dog.
Some Labs are trained to ride and hunt on an ATV, off a boat or sit under a duck or goose decoy waiting for the kill. The Lab, when fully trained, will retrieve the game and return it to you very gently without further harming or destroying the game. They can also be trained to retrieve live game.
One of the first parts of training the Labrador retriever will receive is to acknowledge a gunshot and not be afraid. A Lab that is afraid of the sound of a gun will not make a good hunting dog. The lab's mellow attitude works well for this type of training. They have the hunting and retrieving bred into them so the training seems to come very naturally to them. They are used competitively in field trials where the owners and labs compete to see which dog does better at retrieving. It takes a very intelligent and well-trained dog to know how to hunt properly. They need to sit quietly until they get the signal to go and retrieve the game, at which point they retrieve it and hand it to their master instantly and gently. It is very important in the Lab's training for them to know the steps that are required, and the Lab excels at this hunt and retrieve, whether it's for show, for fun or for love of their master.