Eddie Noga - Professional Retriever Trainer - Located in North Texas Near Dallas Texas Specializing in AKC Hunt Test, Waterfowl Dogs, Gun Dogs, Duck Dogs, and All Breed Obedience and Boarding.
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Zion Kennels - Professional Retriever Training  for Gun Dogs, AKC Hunt Tests and AKC Field Trial Head Start for retriever puppies

'Eddie has done a great job with Major! I would highly recommend him to anybody that strives to have a quality hunting companion, or a hunt test competitor. Eddie has a passion for training that is reflective in the finished product. I would be glad to answer any questions, feel free to give me a call @ 903-520-3223.'

Brian Arnold
Flint TX.

 

ZION KENNELS Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much time do you spend with each dog?
  2. How many dogs do you train?
  3. Can I observe/participate in training my dog?
  4. Do I need to bring anything when I drop the dog off?
  5. What does your 4-month gun dog program for hunting dogs consist of?
  6. How much acreage do you have for training?
  7. Where is Ladonia Texas?
  8. Can anyone come out to train?
  9. What are Hunt Tests?
  10. What is a Junior Hunter?
  11. What is a Senior Hunter?
  12. What is a Master Hunter?
  13. How are you able to train in Texas in the summer?
  14. Do you offer heated/air conditioned kennels?
  15. What should I look for in a puppy?
  16. Does the order of the pick in the litter really matter?
  17. When should my puppy come to you for formal training and what should I be doing in the meantime?
  18. What can I do to prepare my dog for training?
  19. I'm confused by all the various titles in the pedigrees of advertised litters. How do I know what I'm getting?
  20. The Electronic Collar, is it a magic tool?
  21. What is CERF?
  22. What is OFA?
  23. What is EXERCISE INDUCED COLLAPSE (EIC)?


1. How much time do you spend with each dog?

Eddie trains 12 months of the year.

Typically, Eddie does obedience and drill work with all the young dogs 6 days a week. Afternoons are devoted to field work with all retrievers.

It 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.

Zion Kennels - Professional Retriever Training  for Gun Dogs, AKC Hunt Tests and AKC Field Trial Head Start for retriever puppies
Eddie working with a dog in Collar Conditioning

2. How many dogs do you train?

Eddie 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.

3. Can I observe/participate in training my dog?

We 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.

4. Do I need to bring anything when I drop the dog off?

Please 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.

Zion Kennels - Professional Retriever Training  for Gun Dogs, AKC Hunt Tests and AKC Field Trial Head Start for retriever puppies
Putting on the e-collar for training

5. What does your 4-month gun dog program for hunting dogs consist of?

Obedience 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 the

retrieves 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 Junior.

6. How much acreage do you have for training?

Zion 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.

7. Where is Ladonia Texas?

Bonham 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 Us page.

8. Can anyone come out to train?

You 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.

9. What are Hunt Tests?

Hunt 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.

10. What is a Junior Hunter?

The 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" the fall.

A 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.

Dogs 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.

11. What is a Senior Hunter?

A 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.

12. What is a Master Hunter?

The 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.

13. How are you able to train in Texas in the summer?

We 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.

Zion Kennels - Professional Retriever Training  for Gun Dogs, AKC Hunt Tests and AKC Field Trial Head Start for retriever puppies
Our 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.

14. Do you offer heated/air conditioned kennels?

Keeping 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 duck hunts.

In 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.

We recently heard of a trainer losing 19 dogs when the air conditioning in his kennel failed while he was gone.

Please visit our Facilities Page to view our kennel

15. What should I look for in a puppy?

Choosing 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 :

1. Intelligence - for Train ability
2. Desire - The desire to Retrieve is where a strong field pedigree comes in.
3. Genetic Soundness - OFA ( Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)and Written Guarantees

First, 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 www.offa.org.

Next, 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 -

FC - 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

These 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.

The 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.

Other important considerations:

  • Are the puppies active and alert?
  • Are the puppies clean?
  • Have they been raised in the house with proper socialization or born and left outside in a kennel?
  • What are the puppies fed? A good Premium Puppy Food such as Pro-Plan or Iams or Cheap Grocery store brand?
  • Have the puppies been socialized well?


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.


16. Does the order of the pick in the litter really matter?

NO. 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?

17. When should my puppy come to you for formal training and what should I be doing in the meantime?

Formal training usually starts around 5 to 6 months of age, but an older dog can still be trained.

In 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".

First 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.

Older 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.

Once 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 cover.

The 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 hunt.

18. What can I do to prepare my dog for training?

Socialization 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.

If 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.

Throw 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.

Don't 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.

If 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.

19. I'm confused by all the various titles in the pedigrees of advertised litters. How do I know what I'm getting?

You 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.

20. The Electronic Collar, is it a magic tool?

I 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.

Before 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.

It 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.

A 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 Retriever.

The 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.

21. What is CERF?

The 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 registry.

The 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.

Follow this link for more information.


22. What is OFA?

Founded and originally incorporated as a private not for profit foundation in 1966, this year the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Credit 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.

While 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.

The OFA is guided by the following four specific objectives:
  • To collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
  • To advise, encourage and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases.
  • To encourage and finance research in orthopedic and genetic disease in animals.
  • To receive funds and make grants to carry out these objectives.

23. What is EXERCISE INDUCED COLLAPSE (EIC)?

EXERCISE INDUCED COLLAPSE IN LABRADOR RETRIEVERS
Update: September 14, 2007

Susan M. Taylor, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)
Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

A syndrome of exercise intolerance and collapse (EIC) has been recognized in young adult Labrador Retrievers.

A comprehensive study of this condition is underway involving collaborators from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) of the University of Saskatchewan (Taylor, Shmon), the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota (Mickelson, Patterson, Minor), and the Comparative Neuromuscular Unit at the University of California (Shelton). The objectives of this study are to (1) describe the syndrome so that it can be recognized by dog owners, veterinarians and trainers, (2) to thoroughly evaluate affected dogs to try to establish an efficient means of diagnosis and to gain some insight into the cause of the collapse and (3) to determine the genetic basis for the collapse syndrome. This research has been supported by generous grants from the Morris Animal Foundation and the WCVM's Companion Animal Health Fund.

This document will summarize some of what we have learned in the last 7 years about the syndrome of Exercise Induced Collapse in Labrador Retrievers. Descriptions of the syndrome and the results of our experimental study have been submitted for publication in the veterinary literature.

- EIC Handout - This handout will explain EIC in full.

 

 

 

 


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Zion Kennels - Texas Retriever Training is a licensed group of professional Hunting Retriever Training organizations that specialize in the breeding and training of Hunting Retrievers. Some of the services may include Hunting Retrievers, Sporting Dogs, Started Dogs, Finished Dogs, Working Retrievers, Master Hunters, Field Champions, Water Dogs, Hunt Test Dogs, Field Trial Dogs, Gun Dogs, Water Dogs, Tolling Retrievers, Tollers, Golden Retrievers, Cheapeake Bay Retrievers, Waterfowl Retrievers, Bird Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Companion Dogs, Duck Hunting Dogs, Competition Dogs, Trained Retrievers, American Labs, Field Dogs along with Hunting Ranches, Duck Hunting in Texas, Waterfowl Hunting, Mallard Ducks, AKC Hunt Tests, AKC Field Trials, AKC Registered Labrador Retriever