Willow Creek Kennels, MN

Orvis-Endorsed Hunting Dog Trainer in Little Falls, Minnesota

Willow Creek Kennels, MN


Willow Creek is constantly seeking ways to incorporate a more positive approach to training dogs, utilizing both researched methods and innovative experimenting. The professional trainers eagerly share ways to help anyone who is wishing to develop their dog of a lifetime. When you choose Willow Creek as your partner in developing your dog, we will speak with you about your hopes for hunting or obedience and set training goals together.

Willow Creek Training Goals

  • Custom train each dog to each owner's specific needs
  • Teach you how to stay consistent with what the dog has learned
  • Dog and owner both go home with the confidence it takes to make a perfect team
  • Our training customers can participate in our Saturday Handler's Clinics free of charge if they need to brush up on commands and handling
Different dogs develop at different rates. We have some methods we use more than others, but we are constantly adapting training to each individual dog. We have incorporated positive reinforcement into traditional gundog training methods. For example, positive reinforcement pigeons provide reinforcement for the dogs and have revolutionized our training program. This process allowed us to be more efficient and get dogs back to their owners faster.

At Willow Creek we use a lot of birds and diligence to enhance your dog's natural abilities and bring out his or her very best. We have a flexible training program and will do our best to accommodate you and your dog. If you like to do the training yourself, but do not have the experience or knowledge, we offer consulting sessions and will work with you and your dog to guide you in training.

What are the best ages for training?

Training is an ongoing process and dogs can be developed at any age. We start most dogs at approximately 8 months old. At this age, their minds are like sponges, soaking up everything they can. We can take them from start to finish at this age, or break the training up, whichever works best for the owner.

Our puppy program

First impressions are very important to a young dog and these impressions are long lasting. We can properly introduce your dog to birds, guns, cover, and water, giving them the right beginning to his or her training and hunting career. We typically start this process around 7-8 months of age with your puppy, but it's never too late to start. Younger dogs around 5-6 months of age can also benefit from this puppy program.

Most puppies start with 3 or 4 days of obedience training, giving them time to settle in so they do not associate any anxiety with birds. This also gives puppies a chance to bond with us, and develop a trust in us. We start by running most puppies on the recall pens, which builds prey drive, tracking ability, pointing, and bird sense. The puppies work through collar conditioning, whoa, here, and heel during this introductory program.

We mix gunfire into the whole process. We start by shooting before we let the dogs out of the main building. This muffles the gunfire and provides the positive reinforcement of the run after the shot. We build up from there and are shooting birds consistently by the time they go home.

Our started dog program

Training is based on individual clients' needs and the progression of the dog's abilities. During the first month of training, dogs learn and are collar-conditioned to whoa, here, heel, kennel, and sit. Pointing dogs are developed to point and hold until the bird flushes. We work on teaching them what a shot birds looks like. Flushing breeds are developed to stay in range, track and flush birds, recall, sit, stay, heel, and retrieve.

Our finished dog program

A finished dog is not easily defined. They are trained to the clients specifications, whatever they may be. We can take the dog to whatever level the customer desires, including Master tests or trial readiness.

What is provided during training?

During training, we provide all of the training equipment and birds needed to train the dog. Training the handler is just as important as training the dog. When we train a dog, we provide frequent updates through Facebook to keep the handler engaged in their dog's training. We encourage customers to view training videos related to what is being taught to their dogs, which helps the handler learn the techniques we use. A list of cues is provided so the handler can use the same sounds and signals the dog has learned.

At any point after the dog has completed its training and the handler wants to tighten up or brush up on their skills, we offer Saturday Handler Clinics. A group of handlers will work through various drills to further their development.

Our pro shop offers other equipment we use during training, including collars, leads, bumpers, and launchers.

What should I send with my dog?

Training is all-inclusive. We will provide everything needed for their stay.

Please send with your dog shot records verifying:

  • Rabies vaccination
  • Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination
  • DHPPC (distemper) vaccination
  • Any medication other than flea and tick preventative or heartworm preventative
Optional: dog food

Specific breeds that you train

Willow Creek will train any breed of dog. Techniques are similar for all the breeds and tailored to individuals within the breeds.

Pointing Breeds

  • German Shorthaired Pointers
  • Brittanys
  • German Wirehaired Pointers
  • Drahthaars
  • Gordon Setters
  • Red Setters
  • Red and White Setters
  • English Setters
  • Llewellin Setters
  • English Pointers
Flushing Breeds
  • Springer Spaniels
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Dog evaluation period

If there is a dog that needs to be trained, we will train it. We estimate timelines based on the customer's expectations for learned skills. Dogs develop at different rates so adjustments to the timeline may be made.

Our training grounds

Willow Creek Kennels and Hunting is a progressive dog-training kennel and shooting preserve near Little Falls, Minnesota. Located on 266 acres, Willow Creek offers a mixture of ruffed grouse and pheasant habitat, ideal for training grounds and leisure upland hunting. The landscape features young aspen tree lines, intermixed agricultural fields, and numerous small ponds and streams.

We raise and release approximately 4,000 pheasants throughout the year. We have built a 4,000-bird surrogator and we begin releasing the birds at approximately 8 weeks old. This allows us the ability to provide lots of bird contact, accelerating the training process. In addition to our intensely managed fields, we have built an impoundment which floods approx. 80 acres. This is where most of our advanced waterfowl training takes place. Our kennels are indoor/outdoor with tiled runs and a homelike atmosphere. 4'x8' inside and 4'x10' outside offers each dog plenty of space when not working. Indoor portions feature in-floor heat and air conditioning. In extreme weather conditions, we utilize our indoor training areas, including our conditioned retrieve room and a treadmill room.


Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 1 reviews


1 of 1 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    Best Trainer, Guide, & Dogs - 2/7/2014
    By: from Zimmerman, MN

    I have kenneled my dog at Willow Creek Several times and hunted on their land. Now I am wanting to buy a puppy from these folks. They are nice, friendly and I think that my dog wanted to live at Willow Creek. Each time I'd get there to pick him up and bring him home, he would look at me like the fun was all over. Best place period. Its even worth the 3 plus hour drive to drop him off and pick him up.

Willow Creek Kennels & Hunting
Orvis-Endorsed Hunting Dog Trainer
Chad Hines
22545 195th Avenue
Little Falls, MN 56345