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Meet the Current Cinnstar Retrievers


Cinnstar Retriever Training

Now Located in Sulphur Springs Texas

*The Heart of North East Texas*

Please Note: As of January 1 2017 I am no Longer Training Retrievers Professionally

Friends are always welcome to train with me, and I am always available for my puppy people

Note: All photos on this page can be clicked on to view a larger picture

Cinnstar Moved North to Sulphur Springs TX at the end of June of 2012, and completed our move in October! We are about an hour and a half from the DFW Metroplex off of I 30. We have purchased 65 acres of retriever training paradise and a newer home to call home. We have another 150 acres adjacent to ours and across the small county road that we have permission to train on. There are about 7 ponds on the various properties. We also get together with other trainers both amateur and Pro to give our advanced dogs new and different training concepts. We also are members of 4 States HRC, an AKC and UKC/HRC hunting retriever club. These folks are the Best!

At Cinnstar we specialize in training the Minority Breeds of retrievers. "Minority Breed" means any breed of retriever that is not a Field Bred Labrador Retriever. It also includes Irish Water Spaniels, Boykin Spaniels, American Water Spaniels, and Standard Poodles. We train and compete with these retrievers in AKC Retriever Hunt Tests, breed specific Working Certificate Tests/Trials, and as hunting companions. We also participate in HRC (Hunting Retriever Club) hunt tests. They are different then AKC, but VERY worthwhile. We want to especially encourage the participation of Conformation (Show) Bred retrievers in hunt tests. We are happy to work with other breeds in the Sporting group in their retrieving skills. We also specialize in "Training The Trainer", and encourage individuals to come out and train with us. Utilizing that premise, we work with owners when their retriever develops issues to analyze the problem, and develop and execute a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate their retriever. We do accept field bred Labs for hunt tests, and as hunting companions. We have experience in all phases of retriever training from Puppy Enrichment Training, Basics, Transitional, all the way thru Open All Age.

We also offer All Breed Obedience Training. Since Laura started out in obedience in 1966, she is incredibly well qualified and capable in solving all kinds of behavioral problems your companion might have. Laura has multiple High In Trial and First Place class wins. She is available for Consultation and Private Lessons as well as our two month Basic Obedience Training Program and three month Off Lead program.

A popular option is our Hunt Test and Obedience/Rally Titling Program. Ask Us!

Laura has been involved in the sport of dogs since 1966, has trained retrievers since 1977, and professionally since 2000. To learn more about our History, please CLICK HERE. Please feel free to wonder around our entire Cinnstar Website, you will find all kinds of interesting and useful information.

The Cinnstar Philosophy

Our training philosophy, the Balanced Method, is that while we have a program that all retrievers can be trained by, each retriever is an individual and the program is tailored and fine tuned to the individual retriever's temperament, abilities, and the owner's goals.

Laura draws from not just her 30 plus years of retriever training experiences, but her almost 50 years of experience with many different breeds of dogs, and training obedience, agility, conformation and even horse training. She is always interested in learning new processes/methods. While we have taken seminars and read books from the new generation of retriever trainers, we have also trained with the older generation. These trainers were around before the collar (e-collar) became so popular and they had to rely on drills, "back chaining", "show and tell" teaching, and training by attrition. The Minority Breeds and conformation-bred retrievers require utilizing these methods. Yes, how we train is more time consuming, so we restrict the number of retrievers we train at any given time. Including our own retrievers the limit is about 8 retrievers.

The collar is a great training tool, all of my personal retrievers as well as many client's retrievers are collar conditioned. However we are greatly distressed by many retriever training programs, and obedience programs that stress and promote the collar like some magic wand for better dog training. It is not. The collar is not a teaching tool, it is a correction tool, especially useful for corrections at a distance. But you have to TEACH first. You can not correct a dog for something it does not know. The collar can cause great and potentially devastating emotional harm if used incorrectly. It is not something a beginning trainer should use without constant supervision and training from someone who understands the collar. In training each retriever, I stress the need to understand the individual retriever's temperament and talent/abilities. How to use that knowledge to your advantage. The collar is often NOT the answer to a given problem. Just because the retriever wears a collar does NOT mean they get corrected with it every time they train. Many retrievers go weeks without a collar correction. We recommend Tri-tronics e-collars. They are superior both in construction and ease of use.

We strongly believe that your retriever can be a great companion not just in the blind, or at a hunt test/field trial, but in your home. The notion that you have to keep your retriever out in a kennel, not living in your home, and not allowing your children play with your retriever is out of date and wrong. We believe that retrievers are smart enough to understand "work is work and play is play". There is a whole world of difference between your kids playing ball in the yard, and field work.

Read about The Cinnstar Method of Training Retrievers: The Balanced Method, in this great .pdf article!

You can read many of the articles Laura White has authored including her Trained Retrieve article with slide shows on the Cinnstar Articles Page.

We also invite you to visit the Cinnstar Toller pages of the website. This section of the Cinnstar website includes many additional articles about our personal retrievers, our limited breeding program, ethics and much more that will fully introduce you to us.

Ethics in Retriever Training

We feel that our ethical practices reflect on our clients. By reading our article on Breeders Ethics , I feel you will get a good idea where we stand in regards to that topic. The Professional Retriever Trainers Association (PRTA) has a code of ethics that we feel is a good example of retriever training ethics, which we fully support.

We evaluate each retriever fairly to determine that the goal is consistent with the retriever's talents and abilities. We do this on a continuing basis, and will let you, the client, know if the retriever is not capable of the goal you had set for it. Whether in training or at a trial or test, we demand professionalism and good sportsmanship.

We believe in the fair treatment of our retrievers. We abhor the violence we sometimes see passed on as "tough correction" in retriever training. Humans should not take out their frustrations on their canine companions. Further, at Cinnstar we stress the crucial need for Praise. Most dogs Want to please their owners. This is natural in the pack order, where the members of the pack want to please the alpha. Too many field trainers forget this crucial part of the picture, and state the praise for a retriever is the retrieve itself.

We also believe that a clients ethics, reflect on us as well. We expect our clients to hold and conduct themselves with the same ethical and professional standards as we do.

Retriever Training For The Conformation and Multi-Venue Retriever

We feel we are uniquely qualified to work with the conformation bred and multi-venue retrievers because we show in Conformation with our Tollers, and compete in Obedience, Rally and Agility as well. To find out more about Cinnstar Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, please visit the Cinnstar Toller pages of the website.

Read About Retriever Training For The Conformation Retriever Here

The Training Process

We do not believe that one can do a proficient job of training your retriever in less then four months time. A week or more is used up in the retriever adjusting to the kennel, and evaluating what the retriever knows. We train for a level of competency, and we do not believe that a two or three month program will accomplish this.

Many times clients wish us to train something specific, such as for large water, heeling on the right side, getting in/out of an air boat. We are happy to accommodate our clients and fine tune our training program to our clients needs and desires.

We also work out any behavioral issues be it in the field or home, and encourage clients to tell us about their specific problems or concerns they might have with their retriever.


Our Young Retriever Program In a typical young dog program, the force fetch takes between 4 and 8 weeks to the point where the retriever is delivering birds on marks to hand at heel. In general Minority Breeds will take a longer period of time then a field trial/hunt test bred Lab as you can put more pressure on the Lab and proceed at a faster rate. This leaves precious little time to get the retriever marking to a point where the retriever will be successful in its first hunt.

In a Four-month period, the retriever will: heel on or off leash and sit automatically, sit and lay down off leash with handler a minimum of 30 feet away, come when called going into the heel position, force fetched and delivering birds to hand at heel, and complete simple, short back-to-back singles on land and water. They will be able to deliver a live duck to hand, and have experience with decoys and shotguns. Beginning Retrievers will NOT be fully steady (thou not out of control), collar conditioned (optional) or shore broke. The level of performance greatly depends on the retriever's previous retriever and other training. If the owner has done any puppy obedience training, introduced their pup to birds, and if the pup has been introduced to water not only gives the pup a head start, it greatly influences the level we can achieve here at Cinnstar, and the ability and desire of the retriever to learn retrieving concepts and force fetch. In general your retriever will be advanced enough to compete at a Working Certificate level. In Hunt Test/Field Trial bred Labs, often they are almost ready for AKC Junior Hunter.

Our Junior Hunter Program We estimate that it will take about 6 months training to acquire a JH for a Minority breed/conformation-bred retriever. Hunt Test bred Labs may accomplish this in a shorter period of time. We had one black Lab that passed 3 JH tests with only 4 months of training, and was ready for Senior in 6. A Chesapeake Bay Retriever we trained took just a couple of weeks longer. We try to schedule your retrievers stay with us to correspond with the hunt test season. Retrievers on a JH program will be collar conditioned and forced fetched, obedience required for fieldwork (see Young Retriever Program above for details). Some shore breaking, reasonably, but not fully steady. They will be able to run reasonably complex back-to-back single marks on land and water as required of a JH level retriever.

Advanced Training at Cinnstar With further training we can successfully compete with your retriever in all levels of hunt tests both AKC and HRC. We are experts in training retrievers to handle. After all handling is just an obedience exercise and Laura has been training obedience dogs since 1966. Ian, Laura's first Field Trail Retriever and the only Toller to earn Open All Age points in Canada (before AKC recognition) was known for his cold water blinds. Ian took a second in Open All Age at 28 months breeder, owner, trained and handled. His son, Flash received a first in OAA at a large picnic trial and had many other placements. At Cinnstar we feel we have the experience and knowledge to train ANY breed of retriever to the highest level of retriever competition.

When to Start

The best age to start serious field training is at 6-8 months of age. We start training our puppy's (Tollers) at 5 weeks of age. But the serious training begins at 6 months when we start obedience training and force fetch. We understand that your retriever might be older, and we accept retrievers of any age and amount of previous training experience (or lack of). The younger a retriever is introduced to the field environment and birds the better result can be expected. Puppies do not have preconceived notions like an older retriever, or acquired bad habits. Obedience training for a CD (or higher degree) degree can be accomplished at this time, but work in the field is stressed. We encourage you to read the training articles presented on this web site. They will further introduce you to our thoughts and methods.

Owner Participation

Training retrievers in the field (or obedience) requires owner participation if the owner intends to run or hunt their retriever. At Cinnstar, Training the Trainer is ALL important! Laura can train your retriever to perfection, but if the owner is not trained as part of the program all this hard work will be for not if the owner has no idea how to handle their retriever. The more an owner comes out to train with us and runs their retriever, the better equipped they will be to handle it at the test/trials/hunting situations. At Cinnstar, we encourage all owners and their families to come out and train as much as possible with us while their retriever is with us training. For owners shipping their retriever to us (Dallas Fort Worth, DFW is the best airport), we suggest that you arrange three days to a week at the end of your retrievers stay to come out and train with us. Once your retriever finishes training you are ALWAYS welcome to come out and train with us. At Cinnstar we utilize automatic wingers like many professional trainers, however this can not take the place of a human "bird boy". Thus at Cinnstar we use both. Bird boys can make a tremendous difference in your retrievers progress.


Many professional trainers discourage clients visiting or watching their retriever being trained. Especially the force fetch. Not us. I ask you, what are they trying to hide, or what are they afraid that you will see? We at Cinnstar are proud of our training and methods, and invite anyone to come over, visit or watch, and encourage the client to be an active participant in their retrievers training. However, we are not always home, we do not keep regular business hours. We request that you call and make arrangements first. Further some Professional trainers discourage email and phone progress reports. To me, communication on the progress of your dog is Part of the Program. Evenings after dark are the best time to call, and email is preferred. I try to email clients once a week on their retriever's progress. However, we are busy training, not videoing or taking photos, but we will do our best to send an occasional photo or video.

Where We Train

Nothing is more satisfying than standing at the back door of my first class retriever training kennel after morning clean up looking out on the fields and planning what I am going to teach my retrievers today. Then at the end of the day, dogs fed and settled in for the night, reviewing the days training and seeing that each retriever made progress on the skills I was teaching them. This photo is a composite photo from the back door of my training kennel.

The "Back 40" Pond.
Marshy Area Next to the Back 40 Pond.
Trees in the Center of the Back 40 composite photo
Renovating our Puppy Pond Behind our Home 12/2012
Puppy Pond Full January 2014 Composite Photo
Back Pond on Land Next to Our Property

We live a short drive North of Sulphur Springs, in North East Texas, and have the good fortune to have our own 65 acres of training grounds to develop. Soon Cinnstar will begin extensive pond renovation of the existing ponds (the puppy pond is finished), two large cost-share ponds and construction of a Large, 150x150 Yard All Age Technical Pond. We plan to drill a well to keep the water level up in the three ponds on the "Back 40". The immense amount of dirt will be used to "Tara-form" the terrain from almost flat, to technical terrain of the back 40 acres. We also have hundreds of other private acres and numerous ponds available to train on, some directly adjacent or across the road from our property. The terrain varies from flat to rolling. We are always on the lookout for new and interesting places to train.

Because of our wonderful clients, puppy people and friends we usually have exciting places to train whenever we travel. The area's are always new, different and interesting. We try to once a year make a trip to our good friend Nancy Tucker's "Hoosick Haven", her training grounds near Troy NY. You can visit her page on her training grounds here.

Proposed Cinnstar Technical Ponds next to the "Back 40 Pond" after proposed renovation
Kennel Facilities
Our New Kennel Facilities

Our new kennel facilities are designed and being built with your retrievers comfort and health in mind. We are a small training facility and have 8 large indoor/outdoor fully lighted runs. The floors are Concrete with four foot block walls separating each retriever from its neighbor, and heavy gauge chain link. 7 x 5 inside, and 7 x 10 outside. The inside has heavy rubber horse matting and carpet or blankets for retriever comfort except in winter when we use cedar and pine flakes on top of the rubber horse matting for added warmth. In the summer fans keep air circulating and the plug windows over each kennel are open. Outside runs are completely covered.

We prefer to keep each retriever with a "pal", another compatible retriever for company and friendship. Our runs are built with this concept in mind.

The outside of the kennel facilities will be surrounded by a large fully fenced 6 foot chain link shaded exercise area. Retrievers are let out in compatible groups to exercise and socialize during morning and afternoon kennel clean up. The owner might wish to leave a blanket, toys or bones for the retriever to have in the run. We wash blankets and toys frequently.

Good Sanitation is very important for overall good health. Runs are picked up frequently, disinfected and hosed out daily. Waste is removed by a direct line to a separate septic system.

Our Dog Truck
Feeding for Superior Results

We believe that superior nutrition is extremely important for a working dog. Yes, it does cost more, but we feel that the results are well worth it. After years with the Eukanuba/Iams Company and becoming very disillusioned, we searched for a small, progressive company not owned by any huge conglomerate that offered a super premium dog food. While we now feed our personal dogs raw (BARF: Bones And Raw Food), we feed Taste of The Wild, Bison and Venison or other comparable No Grain kibble to retrievers who owners prefer a kibble.

We are happy to work with the owner if you want to feed a different brand of food. There is no discount for special feeding. We also are happy to feed any kind of required supplements or medication you provide, and recommend a Multi Vitamin and a product called "Sure Grow" for pups left in our care. We can and will feed BARF diets as our personal dogs eat raw. The Cinnstar Toller web site has a long article on how we feed our Tollers .

Private and Group Lessons

We are happy to arrange private and group lessons. Come and join us for Winter Training. The weather is perfect down here. We are currently getting a Toller Group together, hopefully for monthly get togethers. Come on out and join us!

YES we are Available for Seminars

Cinnstar has four exciting seminars available. Two are four day workshops and two are presented in a weekend format. I feel strongly that there is no way you can go into any detail, offering a complete training program from starting puppies to a SH (or MH) level retriever in a weekend format. Also the interest in such a group of people is so diverse in this kind of seminar. I feel people benefit the most from a seminar designed around a specific goal, or interest. Please call or email for details

To View a Photo Gallery of Some of the Retrievers Trained at Cinnstar Click Here.


Cinnstar Retrievers
Laura and Don White
Sulphur Springs Texas
info1 at cinnstar dot com


This site designed and maintained by Laura White