Today’s fast-paced world does not allow many sportsmen the opportunity to buy their retrievers and properly prepare them for hunting. The simplest solution is to hire a professional and put the dog through a fast-paced course to ready it for hunting season. This makes sense, especially for puppy training and training a new dog.
Whether you pay someone else to train your dog, or you do it yourself, training doesn’t end when the dog finishes its course. As SportDOG says, “You need sound training techniques to get the most from your dog.” Once it has been trained to understand commands, you can use an e collar to reinforce those commands, as well as keep it trained during the off season. Here’s a consumer’s review of it for those that are curious.
Yelling Doesn’t Help
Humans tend to raise their voices when they are angry or frustrated, which is likely to happen at some point when training your gun dog. Shouting at a puppy when trying to teach it a command will scare him. The dog can obviously hear you, so his unresponsiveness is a result of poor training or your lack of obvious dominance. Drill him further (without yelling) until you get the desired response on the first command.
Gun Dog Magazine confidently declares that no dog is born gun shy. A skittish dog is usually the result of improper training by his owner. Many accounts of dogs running for cover after hearing a gun shot include the hunter admitting that he never fired his rifle around the dog before the first hunting trip. Start by firing a pistol a hundred or so yards away from the dog and incrementally decrease that distance. Once the dog is used to the sound, fire rounds while standing right next to him. Waterfowl, pheasant and turkey hunters can start incorporating decoys at this point as well.
Gear & Supplies
This pup is going to be around for some time and become your best hunting companion. He’s going to be more than just an accessory or tag-along during your hunting trips so you’ll find that you’re going to need to supply him with the right gear in order to perform his role as well. Hunting dog boots can be ideal for protecting paws and ankles from the rough terrain, burrs, hot or freezing surfaces, and even thorns. The pads on their feet are still fairly delicate when they’re young and need protection if you’re traveling into harsher conditions. Another ideal piece of gear to have on hand is your standard hunting vest.Typical orange hunting vests are becoming more popular and designed to cater to various breeds and sizes. Most are designed to allow maximum mobility while still protecting their chest and stomach from dense areas of terrain. Another vest that you should have on hand for your furry partner might be a fitted life vest. When traveling to a site across the river to your hunting site, it’d be a good idea to equip him with a vest specifically for your his size. They even make camouflaged styles for owners that find themselves duck hunting on a shallow water boat that need to stay hidden. One last piece of highly recommended gear you should strap onto your dog, whether it’s a week long trip or a day hike, is a saddle-style supply pack. Usually with a large compartment on each side and literally strapped on like a saddle, the bags can carry smaller essentials. Perfect for carrying emergency kit supplies or food portions. You probably won’t want your dog sporting the bag while in action, but it’s going to come in handy while traveling to your desired hunting grounds.
Photo of dog and hunters via Wikimedia Commons. Released into public domain.
Playing Before Training
The common mistake of letting your puppy run around the yard or play with the kids prior to training could ultimately get him or you killed. This practice will condition him to believe that he can play and get tired before having to listen to your commands, according to GunDogBreeders.com. You want your dog to be ready to go as soon as you arrive at your hunting site. When you get home from work, instead of allowing your dog to jump on you and run around uncontrollably for 10 minutes, give him some commands immediately to let him know his attention and obedience is essential at all times.
A gun dog will only be as obedient and skilled as his training dictates. Your dog is a hunting partner first and a companion second. As long as you embrace that simple concept, the training experience and subsequent harvests will both be positive.
What tricks do you use when training your hunting dogs? Leave a tip in the comments below!
Note: This was a guest post by: Robert Carlson who writes about cars, DIY home projects and sports.