How much time do you spend with each dog?
trains 12 months of the year.
Eddie does obedience and drill work with all the young dogs
6 days a week. Afternoons are devoted to field work with
is important to note that Eddie, doesn't have another job,
doesn't take an extended vacation and doesn't have a deer
lease. What he does do is train.
working with a dog in Collar Conditioning
How many dogs do you train?
takes a MAXIMUM OF 22 DOGS and does all the retriever
training. At many kennels, you will see 40 or even 50 dogs. Since
even the best trainers can't handle more than 30 dogs, kennels
with more than this cannot devote enough time per dog.
Can I observe/participate in training my dog?
encourage and welcome you to come out and observe/train with us
anytime, including weekends! Please call the day before you wish
to come out.
Do I need to bring anything when I drop the dog off?
make sure all shots are current and your dog is free of
Intestinal worms, flees
and ticks. Bring his/her Heartworm medication (such
as Heart Guard Plus). Put a nylon, metal buckle collar on your
pup - one that fits tight. A collar that can be pulled over the
head is too loose. A brass nameplate riveted to the collar is
also a good idea. You are welcome to bring bed, blanket, toys,
etc. however, items might be destroyed and will not be replaced.
on the e-collar for training
What does your 4-month gun dog program for hunting dogs
and good manners always come first. Then the dog will be
given marked retrieves, on land and water, first using dummies.He
or she will progress to pigeons, ducks, and pheasants and
will become longer, eventually out to 100-175 yards. At the
right time, the dogs will be steadied (will not go until given
a command). Force-fetch is taught during the 2nd or 3rd month.
This eliminates hard mouth, dropping the bird on the return,
etc. The final month emphasizes more difficult retrieves through
brush, ditches, cattails, lily pads, and of course, decoy
spreads. The foundation is laid for teaching blind retrieves
(where the dog has not seen the bird fall). At the end of
4 months, the dog will be ready for his first dove, duck,
or pheasant hunt. Most Zion dogs are ready to compete for
their AKC Junior Hunter title at this point, if the owner
so desires. Eddie trains the owner to handle the dog in the
How much acreage do you have for training?
Kennels has over 7,000 acres with close to 100 ponds for training
purposes. We have access to tech ponds, 10+ acre ponds, and Ducks
Unlimited type wetlands. Many of the ponds have decoys and duck
blinds. Look at our Facilities
Page for photos.
Where is Ladonia Texas?
is only 45 minutes north of Dallas in Fannin County. It is easily
reached from D/FW via HWY 121. Take HWY 75 to North McKinney,
take 121 North to Texas State HWY 11 east. Follow HWY 11 east
to a four way stop in WOLFE CITY. At the four way stop turn North
on HWY 34. Go 6 miles to County Road 3380 or Mt. Zion Cemetery.
We are first driveway on the left. Call, (903) 640-3411, for exact
directions from your location or look at
our map on our Contact
Can anyone come out to train?
do not have to be a client to train with us. There is no charge
for day sessions. Just come prepared for weather, mud, high weeds,
etc. You will shoot or throw birds some, watch from the line some,
and work your dog into the rotation with the rest of the dogs.
Eddie will observe your handling and the dog's performance and
make suggestions. Call a day or two prior to the training day,
to make an appointment.
What are Hunt Tests?
Tests are events held for retrievers which attempt to simulate
actual hunting conditions. They are non-competitive, i.e. pass/fail.
Retrievers passing a Hunt Test receive a "leg" or qualification
toward their Hunt Test Title. This title (Junior Hunter (JH),
Senior Hunter (SH), or Master Hunter (MH)) becomes an actual part
of their AKC registered name.
What is a Junior Hunter?
Junior stake is open to retrievers of any age, but primarily consists
of young dogs. A dog must successfully complete 4 single marked
retrieves, 2 on land and 2 on water. A single marked retrieve
means that a single bird was thrown for the dog, who "marks"
dog who completes the 4 singles to the judge's satisfaction receives
a passing score, which gives it 1 leg toward its JH. Passing scores
in 4 Hunt Tests are required to earn a JH.
which complete the 4 month "basics" program at Zion
Kennels should be able to earn a JH, if the owner so desires.
Eddie works with the owner's so that they are able to handle their
own dogs in the Junior.
What is a Senior Hunter?
senior stake consists of 2 sets of double marks with short blind
retrieves. The dog picks up the 2 marks and is then sent on a
"blind" to a bird it has not seen fall. The handler
directs the dog with hand/whistle signals. A dog must pass 5 Senior
Tests to get an SH. Again, Eddie will work with the owner if they
wish to handle their dogs in the Senior.
What is a Master Hunter?
Master stake consists of three scenarios: a land triple or quad
marks with a blind, a land/water triple or quad with a blind,
and a water triple or quad with a blind. A Master dog must pass
6 Master stakes to get a MH. The dog will then carry this highly
valued title for the life of the dog. Six passes each year are
required to qualify for the Master National Hunt Test, held in
a different part of the U.S. each year. Many Master dogs continue
to run Master stakes each year in hopes of qualifying for that
year's Master National.
How are you able to train in Texas in the summer?
have trained in Texas every summer for over 15 years. Eddie's
dogs are in excellent physical condition from daily work.
When it's very hot, we always park in the shade and have
at least one swim in the test.
trailer box is well insulated and has large breezeways and
power ventilation. Very often, the dogs find it so comfortable
that they sleep between tests.
Do you offer heated/air conditioned kennels?
working retrievers in climate-controlled kennels is not a good
idea. Our dogs are being trained to work in conditions ranging
from broiling hot September dove hunts to below-freezing January
the summer, dogs shed their heavy winter coat in order to acclimate
to the heat. In winter, they develop a thick, slightly oily undercoat.
Inside dogs change to a lesser degree, which makes it that much
harder to handle severe hunting conditions.
recently heard of a trainer losing 19 dogs when the air conditioning
in his kennel failed while he was gone.
visit our Facilities
Page to view our kennel
What should I look for in a puppy?
a Retriever Puppy:
There are a lot of very important things to look for when you
begin your search for a new Retriever Puppy. What you want in
a Retriever Puppy :
start with a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder should offer
a pedigree on the puppy ( the puppies history / family tree ),
A Written Hip and Eye Guarantee, OFA Numbers on the sire and dam
and Health Records indicating the date and types of Puppy Shots
and Worming. Beware of buying a puppy out of the paper or from
someone who has two "Good Hunting Dogs" that he bred
but has not bothered to check out the hips on the sire or dam
for Hip Dysplasia. This is extremely important as Hip Dysplasia
is 99% Hereditary. OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
and will certify the dogs hips with a rating of Excellent, Good
or Fair at 2 years of age. They also grade a dogs hips for Dysplasia
- Borderline, Mild, Moderate and Severe. Do not confuse AKC Registered
with OFA Certified. Although AKC registration is important - it
costs only $20.00 to register a litter... Never
buy a puppy from a breeder unless it has a written hip and eye
guarantee and has had the dew claws removed. All reputable breeders
do this. Ask for OFA Certification numbers on the sire and dam!
For more information on Hip Dysplasia visit OFA's web site at
you want a puppy that is Intelligent and Full of the Desire to
Retrieve!! This is where the pedigree comes into play. Look at
the accomplishments of the Sire and Dam/Titles in the pedigree
- these titles should be abundant in the first generations - not
one or two titles beginning 3 generations back. Here are some
of the abbreviations you should look for in the pedigree -
- Field Champion
AFC- Amateur Field Champion
NFC- National Field Champion
NAFC - National Amateur Field Champion
CFC, CAFC, CNFC, CNAFC - are Canadian Field Titles
MH - Master Hunter
titles are STRONG indications that the pup is produced from a
"Proven Background" One of the best ways to learn about
the titles and what the dogs have to do to earn the titles is
to attend an AKC Licensed Hunting Test or Field Trial. The ideal
hunting retriever has desire, trainability, and intelligence,
coupled with a friendly, easy-going personality that fits in well
with the family. Look for a puppy sired by a Field Champion (FC)-
these are the best retrievers in the world. The litter's dam should
also have FC bloodlines, up close. It doesn't do the puppy much
good to have FC ancestors more than 3 generations back. Lets face
it, the parents (50%) and grand parents (25%) are the ones contributing
significantly to your puppy's genetics.
desire to retrieve is something in the puppy or not- You cannot
make them want to retrieve!! You can always take a little bit
out but you cannot put it in them ... That's why getting a puppy
from a "good breeding" is so important. The pedigree
makes a difference!! An excellent way to bring out this desire
to retrieve is to start the puppies on birds early. We introduce
Ashalnd's "Super Duck Puppies" to "live" pigeons
at 5 weeks and everyday after so they are exposed to birds before
they even go home Ducks have a strong odor for a young puppy...
Doves are not good to start out with... as the feathers come out
in the pups mouth making it undesirable. "Live" pigeons
are ideal - Remember you do not shoot sticks, tennis balls and
bumpers when your hunting.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your new puppy will be an important
long-time member of your family therefore getting a puppy from
a "Good Breeding" is essential. We offer a FREE puppy
location service. If we don't have puppies available, we can find
what you want in short order. Just give us a call. Note: please
call after 7 pm.
Does the order of the pick in the litter really matter?
There is an old saying among knowledgeable professionals: "I'd
rather have the last pick in a good litter than the first pick
in a bad litter." Think about it. Could you go to the hospital
and pick the smartest baby from the nursery?
When should my puppy come to you for formal training and what
should I be doing in the meantime?
training usually starts around 5 to 6 months of age, but an older
dog can still be trained.
the meantime, spend time with your puppy, in and out of the house.
Around 3-4 months if age, you can start heeling your pup on a
leash and perhaps teaching "sit". Try to get your puppy
to come when called by offering treats. Use a long rope to gently
reel him in, if necessary. Be sure to encourage the pup by getting
down on your knees and clap the whole time saying "here".
retrieves are best started in a long, narrow area, closed off
at one end, such as a hallway. This can be started around 12-14
weeks. 2 or 3 retrieves are plenty. Again, get down on your knees
and get on the pup's level.
pups can use a narrow yard between houses or similar area. Again,
2-3 retrieves are enough. Stop while the puppy wants more. This
ensures the puppy will not get burn-out and think that retrieving
is not fun.
your pup is retrieving nicely, you will need to enlist the help
of an assistant ("bird boy"). The assistant can stand
behind a bush or tree and throw from this location. This will
allow you to stretch the dog out past the point where most people
can throw a dummy. Most retrieves should be in very light or no
2 most common problems we see in young puppies are: (1) Never
being walked on a leash, and (2) The pup will only go a short
distance because the dummy was always hand-thrown by the handler.
In short, the pup has learned to run 25-30 yards and set up a
What can I do to prepare my dog for training?
is very important for puppies, so it is crucial to spend some
one-on-one time with your pup each day. You can throw some bumpers
for them to retrieve (or a ball or sock with a knot in it--never
a stick). Always stop before your pup gets tired or loses interest--usually
two or three tosses are plenty.
at all possible, do not house your pup in a kennel with an older
dog. Many people believe the other dog will keep the pup company,
but this situation can result in a submissive pup, and we want
him to be bold and confident very early on.
bumpers for your pup on short grass--he can already use his nose,
but we want to teach him how to use his eyes. We also want him
to be successful and gain confidence by coming up with the bumper.
play tug of war or keep-away--if possible, limit the pup's means
of escape around you; for young pups, a hallway is ideal as there
is really nowhere to go except back to you. Be sure to praise
him first then take the bumper from his mouth.
the weather is warm, you can try to get your pup started swimming.
You may have to wade into the water or throw a bumper in for him
to retrieve. A pond with shallow edges is best, as he can go in
gradually. Don't ever force your pup into the water. An older
dog can be helpful with this, as the pup will often follow the
older dog in.
I'm confused by all the various titles in the pedigrees of advertised
litters. How do I know what I'm getting?
should choose a puppy from a litter sired by an AKC Field Champion
(FC) or AKC Armature Field Champion (AFC), at least, an AKC Master
Hunter (MH). These titles are earned at AKC Field Trials and AKC
Hunt Tests, respectively. Lesser titles, or those awarded by other
organizations, are easier to obtain and often indicate a dog with
less talent and/or training. Call Eddie to discuss this very important
decision in depth.
The Electronic Collar, is it a magic tool?
hear so many times that a person is telling me that they are having
problems with there dog, and so their idea is to get a electronic
collar to solve there problem. I also get people who tell me when
they used the electronic collar on their dog it either laid down
or went and ran and hid under the pickup. The electronic collar
is a wonderful tool for dog training, but it is not the answer
for everything, nor does it replace the work that is needed to
properly teach your dog. The electronic collar is not a teaching
device; it is a device to give corrections. The reason dogs will
either lay down or hide under the pickup is because they do not
understand why they are received the correction.
I ever use an electronic collar on a dog, I will have the dog
wear the collar, turned off, from the first day of training. I
put the collar on a pup long before they ever receive a correction
so they don’t become collar wise. A dog that is collar wise
will understand that when the collar is not on them the handler
cannot correct them.
is very important that the pup has been properly obedience trained.
It usually takes a good 1 to 2 months of hard work to properly
teach a dog to be obedient. I use a 6 foot leather lead, sometimes
use a 30 ft lead to obedience train my young dogs. The lead is
what I use to teach with and correct with. A pup will always have
this lead on until they are properly conditioned to understand
electronic collar corrections. The proper obedience commands that
need to be taught are Here, Sit, Heal, and Walking Heal. I have
all these commands taught very well before I think about using
the electronic collar.
pup is not ready to be collar conditioned until they are at least
5 months of age. It is very important that we educate ourselves
on how to properly use the electronic collar. There are some great
books and tapes that are on the market to teach how to collar
condition your pup. Smartwork for Retrievers by Evan Graham is
a very good training book, and it teaches how to collar condition
your pup. Mike Lardy who is a Field Trial professional dog trainer
has put together a tape that teaches and shows how to collar condition
your pup. You can purchase this tape at Total
electronic collar is a wonderful tool if it’s used properly,
and it can help make your hunting partner be a wonderful companion
in the blind.
What is CERF?
Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is an organization that
was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who
recognized that the quality of their dog's lives were being affected
by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction
with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists,
as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable
eye disease in all purebred dogs by forming a centralized, national
CERF Registry not only registers those dog's certified free of
heritable eye disease by members of the American College of Veterinary
Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs
examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. This data is used to form the
CERF data base which is useful in researching trends in eye disease
and breed susceptibility. Not only is this data useful to clinicians
and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and
individual breeders and owners of specific breeds.
this link for more
What is OFA?
and originally incorporated as a private not for profit foundation
in 1966, this year the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
celebrates its 40th anniversary.
for the formation of the OFA is generally attributed to John M.
Olin, well known inventor, industrialist, philanthropist, conservationist,
and sportsman. John Olin was an avid sportsman, hunter, and field
trial participant. When hip dysplasia began to impact the performance
of Olin’s dogs, he organized an initial meeting with representatives
of the veterinary community, the Golden Retriever Club of America,
and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America to discuss means of
limiting the disease. This ultimately led to the formation and
incorporation of the OFA in 1966. Its initial mission: To provide
radiographic evaluation, data management, and genetic counseling
for canine hip dysplasia.
the OFA continues to focus on hip dysplasia, today’s OFA
Mission, “To improve the health and well being of companion
animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease,”
reflects the organization’s expansion into other inherited
diseases and other companion animals such as cats.