Retriever training since 1987, pointing dog training beginning in 1971. I began training professionally in 2003. Conveniently located in central Ohio between New Albany and Johnstown, only 20 minutes northeast of Columbus. Training for hunting and hunting tests. I accept only a limited number of dogs in order to give each dog sufficient training time. Since 2003, I have titled more than 110 retrievers at all levels of AKC and HRC hunting test titles. Ten acres with complex training water on site and a 4400 sq. ft. training building and hundreds of acres of training grounds and water only 10 minutes away. Training all retrieving breeds and continental pointing breeds. Member: Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., Ohio Valley Retriever Club, Buckeye Retriever Club, Golden Retriever Club of Columbus Ohio. Past Ducks Unlimited State Chairman for Ohio, Ducks Unlimited Life Sponsor, AKC Breeder of Merit for Labrador Retrievers. Puppies occasionally. We also offer many other training services. See MeglynRetrievers.com or www.SunnysideTrainingCenter.com
Submitted by: Jocelyn on Jun 20, 2022
Don is an incredible trainer, and I’ve felt my dog is in great hands between visits. He is responsive, and always able to accommodate my sudden visits from out-of-state. As a new gun dog owner, he’s been wonderful at walking me through the progression as my puppy developed a solid training foundation. Bodie’s off-leash and recall skills are well-enforced in a variety of situations.
Don has built an amazing training pond that continually challenges my dog to push his skill level. I’m always pleased to see what Bodie can accomplish with “Uncle Don” coach him to greater feats. Working with Don is a no-brainer; he’s fantastic and cares for the dogs he’s training as if they are his own. I’m lucky that I found Don and cannot recommend his training enough. He’s definitely worth the trip and your dog will be in excellent hands!
Submitted by: Justin Herdman on Dec 02, 2021
Don is a fantastic trainer who really cares about the dogs, of course, but also about the owners. I started working with Don even before I got Biscuit home from the breeder. Don asked about the pedigree and gave tips on how to get our puppy ready for training. We brought Biscuit to Don at exactly six months. Don was open to us visiting as often as we wanted, but we mutually agreed that about once a month was the right amount. Over the course of the next four months, Biscuit showed rapid progress and improvement. Even on the weeks when we weren't able to visit, Don was always responsive to my texts about Biscuit and gave really good feedback. By the time I took him home in September, Biscuit was steady and reliable for both land and water retrieves. He will be hunt tested after the hunting season is over and Don has even offered to assist with preparation for those events. I have had Biscuit out in the field multiple times this fall and his confidence is outstanding because of Don's work with him. Most importantly when it comes to Don, he really takes time to work with owners (like me) who have limited experience in training dogs. He gladly sits down and explains the dog's progress, but he is also not afraid to tell an owner where we need to improve as well. He's as honest, open, and caring as you could want in a trainer. Biscuit will be headed back to Meglyn in the spring of 2022 and I can't wait to see what's next.
Submitted by: Abbey on Sep 03, 2021
We took our young lab to Don hoping he could teach him to retrieve birds on land and in the water. During his stay there, I visited multiple times and Don kept me updated on their progress. Last night we took Woody on his first hunt since being home a few months and he did remarkably well. He made no mistakes in the field and seemed to really enjoy his job. I recommend Meglyn Retrievers to anyone wanting their dog to receive a solid foundation in retrieving. He has the perfect setup right in his back yard where he is able to expose them to real life hunting scenarios. A+ Don. Thanks for your help!
Submitted by: The Bells on Aug 09, 2021
Don Smith with Meglyn Retrievers is an outstanding trainer for hunting and retrieving dogs. Our dog is a black lab and she has transformed into a well-trained and well-behaved hunting dog. Don began working with her when she was 6 months old. He first starts by teaching and enforcing basic obedience skills with the dogs. Sit and heel are paramount. For Don, when he teaches sit, that means that the dog is to sit until told otherwise. There is no “stay” command. Following the obedience training, Don completed ecollar conditioning and force-fetch methods, which teaches the dogs to have a soft mouth for birds as well as to release upon command. We were very pleased to see our Benelli (Nelli) progress through force fetch training at a remarkable pace- she loved it! From the results I’ve seen with our dog, this technique works well and teaches the dogs proper mouth control in comparison with other methods. We’ve had Don train and title our dog, Nelli, through Junior Hunter. It takes 4 “passes” to get titled, 2 land and 2 water retrieve events. Nelli passed all 4 tests on the first try. During her first run, all other dogs in the competition trained from other handlers were unable to retrieve the bird, and Nelli was the first and only dog to retrieve the bird during that run. It was a joy to watch her get titled and it’s been great hunting with her since. We’ve taken her pheasant, dove and duck hunting and she seems to love dove hunting the most. There’s nothing like seeing Nelli smiling with a mouth full of feathers! It is clear that Nelli dreams of all the ducks she will retrieve this season. We were incredibly blessed to find Don to train Nelli. The way we found Don was quite serendipitous, as he does not live far from us. Don has client dogs that travel from far distances to receive his training, and he is a mere 20-minute drive from our house. This has worked very well, as we travel frequently for work and Don is always more than happy to care for Nelli for us in our absence. Nelli loves going to “Uncle Don’s” house for brief training refreshers. This is such a comfort to us, as we are hesitant to leave Nelli with any boarding facility. The genuine love that Don has for our Nelli is an extension of our love. We would strongly recommend Meglyn Retrievers to anyone looking for a quality trainer at a reasonable price. In addition to his standard month-by-month training setup where the dog stays with him, Don also offers owner-handled training. This seems best for tune-ups and working/reinforcing a specific item. If you want quality training in a reasonable time frame, it’s best to let him have the dog for 4-6 months and fully immerse the dog in the training experience.
Submitted by: The Millers on Jul 21, 2021
The bottom line up front is that Don is a great trainer who really cares about the dogs he trains. He may look like an old timer, but don't let that fool you he has a heart of gold for these animals. Our two year old Field Golden Retriever, Henry, just completed his AKC Junior Hunt Title thanks to his work. In addition the obedience training Henry received has paid dividends and I almost never have to keep him on a lead (only an e-collar). I would not hesitate to recommend Don to anyone looking for a professional trainer who is going to treat your dog properly. Let's start in the beginning. Several years ago I decided I wanted to get a Field Golden that I could take hunting. But I was a newbie and did not know the first thing about them. I saw Don's info online and gave him a call. He talked for 40 minutes and gave me a lot of insight, he also invited me and my wife out to see his training grounds. We came out and he spent over four hours showing us his large indoor facility which he uses a lot during the winter months. And he walked us around his outdoor training grounds where he has mechanical bird slings and a very realistic training area. He also took the time to sit down and explain what to look for when getting a puppy and what his training would include. He even brought out a couple dogs he was training to do a couple runs and show us first hand. After that visit we were sold that Don would be our trainer, now we just needed to find our pup.. After looking around for a while we found a breeder that we liked and Don took a look at the pedigree and medical paperwork and really put our minds at ease before we made the purchase. At six months old we dropped Henry off for four long months. It was pretty hard on me and my wife to not have our puppy for that long. But Don was very accommodating and would even humor my wife's request for "Pupdate" photos and videos. We also came by almost every weekend to play with him which really helped. When we got him back he was the same goofy dog except he was thoroughly obedience trained and could complete marked retrieves in his sleep. After about six months we decided we wanted to try and get him his Junior Hunt Title so we dropped him back off for another two months of training. During that time he passed two of the four Junior runs he did (so he still needed two more). Don even took him Pheasant hunting a couple times which was pretty awesome. We took him back for a few more months and I decided I wanted to run him myself for his last two runs. I had never run a dog at a Hunt Test and was a little nervous. But Don let me come over and practice on his land which helped put me at ease. Henry of course did great and finished off his Title! Unfortunately I have been overseas for most of the last two seasons but I have no doubt Henry will do great when I get him out to hunt.
Submitted by: The Bates Family on Jun 12, 2021
We took our one year old Lab Cash to Don Smith at Meglyn Retrievers and was very pleased with the professional and personal care he took with him. Don is a very passionate trainer and cares about the dogs he trains very much. Cash was trained on obedience and duck retrieval. Don did an excellent job training him and we highly recommend him to anyone.
Submitted by: Jesse Hickman on Dec 03, 2019
Being new to the gun dog world I didn't know where to go to turn for a reputable trainer. I searched through numerous waterfowl pages on facebook for recommendations. After narrowing my search down to 3 trainers in our area I started making phone calls. Don Smith was by far the most understanding trainer to talk to and was confident in getting pup where I wanted him to be come duck season. 5 months of training at just 11 months old when finished and I have a very proficient waterfowl retrieving dog. I was very impressed with what Don had done in a short amount of time with my dog but even more impressed with how much he taught me about my own dog. I am looking forward to many waterfowl seasons with a steady, obedient lab. I highly recommend Don Smith at Meglyn Retrievers for anything gun dog related.
Submitted by: John Krauss on Nov 12, 2019
I first consulted with Don prior to purchasing a new puppy. I was developing a succession plan for an 11 year-old Senior Hunter. Don helped me evaluate several litters and worked with me to evaluate prospects.
"Duke" began field training in late May. Don focuses on obedience and response to commands. I would visit every few weeks to monitor progress as he moved through the training program. The end result is fantastic.
We just returned from his first hunting trip to South Dakota. He worked extremely well and I am quite pleased. While his training was focused to waterfowl, he worked beyond my expectation with upland retrieves. The dog is not even a year old and was very responsive. Handling a new dog has many unknowns, but Duke stayed close and obeyed commands.
Don has incredible background and his experience is demonstrated by his product. He knows genetics and pedigrees, as well as history of the Labrador breed. I highly recommend him.
Submitted by: Andrew Armistead on Oct 05, 2019
Don is an amazing trainer that is honest with you and helps any way he can. He did a great job with my young dog named Maximus (max). Took max out on his first hunt the day after I picked him up and he retrieved 3 ducks and a goose. I enjoyed going to see my dog and talking to Don every month and getting great advice. I strongly recommend sending your duck dog to him for training. Max will be going back after duck season to go through another round of training and I know he will learn how to do exactly what Don says he will teach them.
Submitted by: Trey Ralston on Sep 11, 2019
From the moment I called Don when I found out I was moving to Ohio and would need a trainer there, I felt comfortable taking Maverick to him. His knowledge about all the different aspects of training for trials and training for hunting was more than enough to secure me as his client. Then I met him and saw him work with my boy Mav. Never a doubt from that day forward.
Don not only took Mav in and refreshed him on his basic obedience, but he is now trained to the point my wife can handle him daily, which is huge having our young daughter around also.
After working obedience, Don moved on to the novice training to get Mav prepared for his first hunting season. Every time I would call to check in, Don had great reports and advancements in training from the last call. Don was very forthright and honest with his progress. Whether some areas were taking a little longer than normal or if some were a piece of cake, he would give me details on how my pup was doing.
One of the best things I noticed about Don is his relationship with each dog he trains. There is a reason Don is so good, and it has part to do that he gets to know the dogs and treat them as his own.
I have nothing but the upmost respect for Don and have no doubt that I will return with Mav after season to move on to the next stage in training.
Submitted by: Zach & Shelley Queen on Oct 03, 2018
If you want honest, hard work and knowledge, I highly recommend Don Smith at Melglyn Retrievers! Don has done an amazing job getting our girl Maci ready and exposed for hunting! His time and effort he has put into our girl in our hearts is priceless. As we plan our first and upcoming hunting season with Maci, we look forward to her future learning even more from Don through his training program.
Submitted by: Brett Bonner on Nov 16, 2017
Don Smith is a rare kind of retriever trainer. Not only can he train the dogs well, but equally important is how he teaches clients.
On the first point about training the dogs, Don has a gentle and patient hand with the dogs and has a big heart for each of them. Like most owners of hunting labrador retrievers, my wife is a big time furmommy and is very careful when it comes to the training of her dog. You don't find many pro trainers that can level with and share the same outlook on pet hunting dogs as their clients. But just talk with Don, see his interaction with his client dogs, or browse his Facebook page and you'll see that your pet is in the best hands out there. Our dog came back after four months with Don without any of the good things about her personality changing one bit!
As for Don's training program itself, Don was able to correct all kinds of problems that my lab was having with delivery to hand, running straight lines on blind retrieves, and bank cheating. I was impressed with how quickly he helped our dog progress. Not only is she Junior Hunter titled, but she is well on her way to a Senior title.
There's lots of pros who can train a dog. But it is rare to have one who can both train a dog and teach a client. Don's talent for teaching the client is what separates him from the pack. He keeps his clients up to date on progress your dog is making, and does a fantastic job explaining the details of what he's training the dog to do, why it matters, and how a hunt test will help validate the work.
If I haven't decided that Don is the right retriever trainer for you and your dog yet, just read one more thing that hopefully will convince you. I live in Memphis, TN in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Ducks Unlimited is HQ'd here. Duck hunting is such an important part of the local culture and there are many big name retriever pros within a quick drive from me with large kennel operations. I had lots of options, but I chose Don for our Cali because I knew that both the dog and I would get excellent training and individual attention. I'm so pleased with the results that I have zero regrets for choosing Don as our trainer despite being 10 hours away.
Submitted by: Jesse Neace on Jun 23, 2017
After failing to find the right trainer locally, I followed the advise of our breeder, Kimberly Nichols of Blue Ridge Retrievers, and gave Don Smith of Meglyn Retrievers a call. It didn't take long to decide the drive to Ohio from Virginia was worth it. Don is always eager to talk retrievers and explain any aspect of dog training. While our boy Cruiser was with Don, we received a monthly email, detailing work accomplished and goals for progress. Don is always easy to reach by phone, email or even text message. In fact, Don would send pictures and videos of Cruiser in action to appease my two young sons, who got to missing their new puppy! Cruiser earned his Junior Hunt title before coming home and I am anxiously awaiting September goose season and time spent in the blind with my new hunting buddy. I will be giving Don a call for any future training needs.
Submitted by: Kimberly Nichols on Jun 14, 2017
Don has trained multiple dogs of mine and put many titles on them for me. He is an excellent dog trainer who holds a true passion for his work and takes great pride in each dog that he works with. I recommend him only to my clients who are taking home puppies and wish to have them trained for hunting, hunt tests or family dogs who need obedience. I have never worried about my dogs being in Don's care. He is great about giving updates either by email, telephone or even video clips. There are many options out there for dog trainers right now but the only option I give when asked for suggestions and referrals is Don Smith at Meglyn retrievers.
Submitted by: Joshua Culver on Jun 06, 2017
Don trained my first dog in 2002-2003. He was neutered and I had no interest in breeding him, therefore I wasn't interested in getting him titled. I asked Don to train him as a well behaved family member who liked to go duck hunting. And that's exactly what I got. I picked him up in early October after 4 months of training. We headed strait to North Dakota for a week of hunting. He cut his teeth on that trip and retrieved over 60 birds in 1 week. That dog would go on to log over 1500 retrieves in his career, multiple trips out of state. He passed away in 2012. I immediately called Don with the sad news. Don was litterally in tears as he loved him like one of his own dogs.
It took 3 years before we could bring ourselves to get another dog. I called Don and told him of our intentions. I asked him to be on the lookout for a good litter. Don hooked me with a breeder out of Indiana after a 3 month search. I bought Harli in April of 2016. She was at Don's place by August 1st for training. He took her through initial obedience and steadiness, then double marks. He talked to me about my intentions. My wife and I thought about the possibility of breeding her. She was a great dog with an incredible pedigree. Once we confirmed that we were going to breed her we decided to run her thru her Junior hunter. She passed 4 strait runs and earned her JH titles in April of 2017. We couldn't be more pleased with her ability and Don's training.
Submitted by: Josh Fullenkamp on Jun 05, 2017
Being able to hunt with a dog can be wonderful or your hunting buddies will be asking you to keep your dog at home if not trained properly. Training dogs takes a lot of time and patience and as a new father finding time gets to be difficult. I entrusted don smith with training my boy Hank. Don did an excellent job and I beyond excited to hunt this coming year with my dog. Hank earned his junior title and is through his handling work and starting cold blinds at just a year old. One thing that sets don apart from other trainers is that he welcomes you to come visit your companion and was willing to teach me his methods of training. He helped build my confidence in handling my dog. I recommend letting don help get your hunting buddy ready for the hunt of a lifetime.
Submitted by: Derrick Wilcox on Jun 02, 2017
We took our 6 month old Chessie to Don and recently she returned home. She is not even a year old yet and is very proficient at running both land and water retrieves.
You only need to talk to Don for a few minutes to realize he has a special gift and heart for training these dogs. He has became more than our trainer now he is our friend.
Submitted by: Jeff Politte on May 23, 2017
We took Riggs to Don Smith a few months ago for hunt training at the recommendation of common acquaintance. In a very short amount of time, we realized that Don has tremendous passion for dogs and training them. As a result, Riggs obtained his junior hunt title May 21, which was a day after he turned 11 months old. With Don's training techniques, Riggs has become very proficient in land and water retrieves in a very short time. We are very appreciative of Don's help and patience with Riggs.
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