“I have a 15-month-old Labrador and I want to teach him to go left and right, but my friends tell me it is a waste of time and unnecessary unless I plan to field trial with the dog. Although I have no plans to compete with the dog, I will use him for both driven and some walked-up shooting. So, is it a skill I need to train him in, and if so how is the best way to go about it?”
When sending a dog for a retrieve, I like to use a “release” command. As I push out my hand, I give a verbal command; “get out”, which helps to encourage the dog to run out to the dummy. Initially I stay close to the dog to prevent it from coming back towards you at an angle. As the dog gains in confidence you can gradually increase the distance between you, but for the time being keep the thrown dummy close to the dog.