I belive that there is a Gallatain Valley Retrievers club but not sure how to contact them. I'm told that it is a non profit org. that gets together and helps each other train their dogs. I have seen them working dogs at Headwaters Park and on the Madison.
As for an E-collar....I got my lab from a friend that hunted her lots and lots (over 100 retireves a year) but did not have enough time to work with both of his dogs anymore (new wife, new family etc.). She was a terror for the first couple of weeks until I purchased a collar. She was trained with a collar so I'm sure that that helped, but I only had to knick her 2 or 3 times and she was under control. I also started using the collar evey time that we did any training or play time. If she doesn't behave then she gets corrected, If she still doesn't behave she is done. Now she knows that everytime the collar comes out it's time for fun, and I rarely need to use anything but a tone correction.
If you decide to use an e-collar I have 2 suggestions.
#1- get one that has a lifetime warranty and has a water PROOF transmitter. Do not scimp on this equiptment or you will be buying more than one.
#2- Know what the collar does. Put it on your arm, leg, neck (sounds funny but I did it). I believe that it is very important that you understand what your dog will be feeling, and if you are not willing to experience it first hand then you shouldn't be willing to put it on your dog. You may want to make sure that you aren't standing within ear shot of any young kids though, it may test your vocabulary :mrgreen: .
One other suggestion that was given to a friend of mine with a new pup hunting for the first time this year is that you leave your gun at home for the first hunt of the season. Go with someone else and let them do all the shooting. Focus on your dog and make the hunt for them. If you can be completely focused on your dog then you can control some of the bad habits before they start. (ie: leaving the blind early, sticking their head out of the blind, not sitting still in the boat) Hope some of this helps.
Water is good.....Work is bad!!!