Training sometimes is intimidating for new gun dog Owners....
There are some very important things that you should know when training your gundog. So many times, when a dog is being dropped off for training at our facilities we hear this from the owner, " We have done very little training with our dog, because we did not want to mess things up and create problems for you to train him." This scenario can make it more difficult to get a young gun dog started.
Doing some pre-foundation fun training is essential.
Let's look at some basic foundation training for pups or early pre-gun dog training. since this is the most important aspect of preparing your gundog for future training and making a great hunting dog.
Bird Crazy Chase
Bring out the prey drive. If you're going to make a bird dog they've got to be bird crazy. If you do not have the facility for it, just make a pigeon pole - put a clip wing pigeon on a pole and let your bird dog chase it. But keep it short, like a couple of minutes..stop when they are bird crazy, and don't overdo it. Pointing dog owners: Don't worry about your dogs pointing at first, that will come, first get them bird-chase crazy. If you don't it's hard to move your dog forward for gun conditioning and hunting cover.
After they are chasing...put a wing in a sock, rolled up and start throwing short retrieved in the hallway at your house or a corridor, where they have to come back to you. Do three or four retrieves...then pick them up, pet them and let the sock fall out of their mouth. Tease the, with it after 3-4 retrieved and then put it away.
Teach them to go with you, and turn when you turn. Start walking in the yard or field in one direction and once your dog gets out past you a little ways, turn the opposite direction and say here or hey, (use some excitement) to get your dogs attention and turn in your direction. Again, once the dog has gotten out in the front of you, turn them back the other direction.
Gun Shot is done when the gun dog is chasing birds and is quite far away from you. We start with poppers in our shotgun and then go to 20 gauge shot shells. Again make sure to start far away and move closer until shooting over them. The dog should not care about the gunshot at first, since he does not know at this time that they will hear the gunshot when the bird falls. He has not gotten to this point yet, so the gunshot is just a distance noise at this time. If they pay too much attention to the gunshot or reactions are not good, back off some or move back farther away from the gunshot. Take your time, don't rush this.
If you want your gundog to swim, it is important to start introducing them to the water. Fill a small plastic pool gradually with more and more water in it will be a good start. Put water in the pool and make sure they can walk in at first. As they like it and become more confident, fill with more water until they are swimming. As soon as they are swimming, you can begin throwing a play toy in the pool for them to retrieve.
There's an old saying: One step forward, two steps backward:
In gun dog training heed this advice: Don't be afraid of backing up, if your dog is not catching on, or some reaction was not what you wanted to see.. Look for confidence in your dog as you move forward. Momentum(keep personality and heart) in your dog during early training is crucial. Don't get in a hurry and don't overdo it(too long of sessions can make or break successful training). Most mistakes and issues with dog training happen when the owner/trainer either goes too long in a session and loses the dog's concentration, or pushes too fast and puts too much pressure on the dog.
It's up to you to communicate with your dog, and if they don't understand what you want, they can't respond properly. Your job is to learn to communicate with your dog. As they learn, they will give you a better response. Controlled and calculated pressure is fine in dog training, but you must give your dog a way out of the pressure, which they will respond to.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to put your dog up. Take a break. Think about what you're doing. Make a plan and go back and implement it in the next training session...or seek advice and get some coaching before moving forward.
Happy Bird Dog Training. Keep it enjoyable and use common sense proven methods for training.
-- Todd Anderson