Hunting Dog Training for Retrieval Purposes
Ever since ancient times, a number of special dog breeds have been trained for the sole purpose of retrieval. Apart from retrievers, other popular hunting dog breeds are terriers, Basset hounds, beagles, bloodhounds, Brittany spaniels, English cocker spaniels, pointers, fox terriers and setters to name a few. So, if you are looking for the best hunting dog training for retrieval purposes, it is always very sensible to make sure that the puppy is bought at a very young age. The sooner you start training it, the better it is going to be for both you and the puppy. It is no use expecting a one year old retriever to start learning what it should have begun to learn at the age of a couple of weeks.
First of all, you need to know all about the best hunting dog species perfectly suited to the type of hunting you intend to do. And then, you have to make sure that the puppy that you buy is bought from a reputed and honest breeder, who knows the pedigree of the dog that he is selling to you. You may want to look at the parents, before you choose, the puppy. You would also want to inspect the place as well as the conditions in which the puppies of your choice have been bred.
A hunting dog without proper or genuine papers is like a piece of carbon, which has not been cut properly to show off its true worth as a diamond. Your job is to make sure that your hunting dog comes from a known hunting dog pedigree. After that, you will need to do proper obedience training. Your dog needs to learn basic commands, like heel, stay, sit etc. Your job is to bond with your puppy in such a manner that it considers you to be Alpha male. The best hunting dog training is going to be done with lots of patience. So, be affectionate yet be strict, and you are going to have a hunting dog worth its weight in gold!
Spring – Oops – Summer Training Camp For Your Hunting Dog
In a previous article, we looked at why off-season training will benefit your hunting dog. Many people don’t think about training their hunting dog in the summer and what happens next is a fairly common scenario. It’s a hot summer afternoon and you’re both being pretty lazy – you’re laying in the hammock and your loyal hunting dog is laying right next to you on the ground, sleepily wondering if you’re going to reach down and scratch him on the head or get up and feed him dinner. All the sudden it hits you – the opening day of bird season is less than a month away. Hopefully, this is NOT you, because let’s face it – if you’ve waited this long, neither you or the dog is going to be in great condition for the first day of hunting.
If, however, you read my previous article, “Why Is Off-Season Training Important For Your Hunting Dog” or if there are still a couple of months until opening day it is not too late to get your dog in shape for hunting season. Here are some ways to help your canine companion be ready …
1) Brush up on your dog’s basic obedience skills. If you’ve been lax over the summer, he may have gotten lazy about obeying you and this is not something you want to find after you’re in the field.
2) Start “roading” your dog. For those not familiar with the term “roading”, it is a method of conditioning dogs where they are tethered to a vehicle and exercised on the road. Though many hunters have a tendancy to think this is only used for training trial dogs, nothing can be further from the truth. By roading your dog for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, a couple of times a week, you can condition pretty much every part of the dog’s body. Roading will strengthen the dog’s heart and lungs, tone up his muscles and even toughen up his feet. The best way to road your dog is on a bike, or a pair of skates, if you skate. Find a little used road – one with not much traffic. You might want to check out the regulations at parks in your area, check out the track at the local high school or look for new subdivisions where the houses are just now being built. Attach your dog to your bike, ATV or, if you’re on skates, take to lead in a gloved hand. Do NOT ever use a regular collar to road your dog. Instead invest in a padded roading harness and a lead that is about six foot long. If your dog has been well versed in obedience, jerking you off the road shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, go back to Obedience 101 and start over. The dog should be allowed to run a little ahead of you and even pull you along a bit. Thirty minutes of this will do wonders for your dog’s overall health and his ability to perform on opening day. It probably won’t hurt you either …
3) Do some basic drills. Use any of the training drills you used when you first began training your hunting dog. Don’t drill him into the ground – just a few minutes a day, several times a week are enough. Be consistent and do the drills on days you aren’t roading him.
4) Take the dog out in the field. Once or twice a week, take the dog to a nearby field or park and let him “hunt” for an hour or so. The workout will not only wake up his hunting skills and get his nose in prime working condition again, the walking around will probably be good for you too.
By investing a little time and effort during the summer for some off-season training, you and your dog will have a better opening weekend come bird season.
Puppy Selection: Choosing The Right Puppy To Avoid A Gun Shy Dog
Having owned a couple of gun-shy dogs myself, I know how hard this problem is to deal with. Not only is gun-shyness hard to correct, it is frustrating for the hunter. This can cause tension between the bird dog and his owner, which can lead to other behavioral issues. Fortunately, having a hunting dog that is afraid of the sound of gun-fire, or in some cases even the sight of the gun, is also one of the those things that can be avoided, in most cases.
Patience during a puppy’s initial training and a little bit of common sense during early training will, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, give you a hunting dog that is unafraid of the noise of the guns. To a well-trained hunting dog, the sound of that gun will be something exciting, because it means he’s probably going to get a retrieve.
Avoiding a hunting dog who is scared of the gun should begin when you’re picking your pup. Though a well-bred dog can still be ruined by improper training, some dogs are just born with a tendency to be nervous or timid and should be avoided. Pick a reputable breeder and ask for references. Don’t just get the references and then forget about them either; call at least two people on the list and ask how their dogs are doing in the field. Make sure you ask about their temperament and general health. Though this won’t guarantee you a hunting dog that does well, it will give you some background to work with.
When you go look at the pups, spend as much time looking at the litter’s momma and papa as you spend looking at the puppies themselves. The sire and dam should be confident and calm, eager to be petted and spoken to. A dog that shys away from you or shows an aggressive steak should be avoided, as should their pups. Only after you are satisfied that the litter’s parents are sound should you begin thinking about choosing one of the pups as a potential hunting partner.
Like the parents, the pup you choose should be friendly and confident. No matter how appealing that shy little guy at the back of the litter is, remember that with an already timid dog even a car backfiring or the sound of a fire-cracker can be the catalyst that turns him into a dog that will tuck his tail and run rather that retrieve the bird you just shot. It’s much better to choose an outgoing and confident pup. While you’re looking at the pups, take a minute and make some soft unexpected noises with your mouth – a chirping or clucking sound. Watch carefully and see which of the puppies looks interested or cock their head to the side to listen. Snap your fingers once or twice – again, not too loud. The puppies’ reactions to this semi-quiet, but unusual and unexpected noise should give you clues to how that same dog might later react to the sound of a gun. If the puppy tries to run behind mama, tucks his tail up under his belly or cringes in the corner, he might have a big problem dealing with the noise of a gun later. If, on the other hand, the pup noses around and seems to be trying to figure out where the noise is coming from, you just might have a keeper.
Remember that with any luck this is a dog that will be accompanying you on hunts for the next 10 to 12 years. Choose carefully!