Gaddy is now a year old and over the next few posts I will explain what I learned and what worked and what didn’t while training Gaddy. I am hoping this will be helpful to anyone who isn’t a professional trainer and is thinking about getting and training their own hunting dog.
#1 – Get the best breeding you can find and or afford. For example: If your looking for a Labrador Retriever to hunt with make sure the kennel or breeder truly hunts or trials their dogs. Make sure the dogs they produce have the build and traits your looking for. In other words don’t get your dog from a breeder that breeds strictly for show and expect to get a cracker jack hunting dog it isn’t going to happen, can it, yes, but be ready to go to work. Do your home work and it will save you hours and hours of extra training and frustration. Breeding plays a huge role in your finished dog.
#2 – Long before getting your dog make a training plan. Ask yourself what do you really want your dog to be proficient at. For example: We field hunt waterfowl and if we wanted our dog to be in the field with us, not in a crate in the back of the truck. It would have to be in and stay in a field blind while hunting. So from day one the first thing Gaddy was trained to do was “kennel” in her blind and “STAY” in her blind, this is still part of her training at least twice a week
#3 – Obedience – I can’t stress this enough, it’s not only for hunting its also for the dogs safety and behavior around the house. Learn what motivates your dog to learn, is it treats or praise or maybe both and use this to your advantage. I started with both and weaned Gaddy off treats at about six months. Remembering A well behaved dog is more fun to hunt with than a dog that your constantly yelling at or chasing all over the county. When you tell your dog to stay it has to stay and stay until you tell it to move. Next, make a list of commands you want your dog to learn. I didn’t do this but I wish I had! Examples: Is it “come” or “here” one will work, but not both. Is it: “sit/stay” or “sit” then “stay”, is it “find” or “hunt it up”.
In my next post I will discuss what I am calling the three “P’s” Practice, Patience and Persistence.