Training a Hunting Puppy: Laying the Groundwork
When training a puppy, the goal becomes building positive experiences and helping the pup increase their self-confidence while avoiding bad habits. Obedience plays a part as well, however for most people, it becomes a rewarding experience when you begin to specifically training a puppy for hunting.
Prerequisites for the Pup
In examining the overall picture, it is meaningful to first state how crucial a puppy’s inherited traits are, how proper socialization comes to heart, and then begin which command should be focused upon first.
Firstly, a puppy’s nose with a discerning sense of smell is necessary. The dog needs to express an internal drive to continue working when the going gets tough. Its attitude should be cooperative, and ready to please.
The external structure of the dog’s body should be strong, and he should exhibit endurance. Its coat should be able to avert the elements and provide a sufficient cover during hunting.
Mentally, the dog should show stability, with a balanced nature, as a hunting situation presents ever-changing circumstances. Ultimately, the dog should have a natural pointing and retrieving instinct. Having all of these factors become the foundation of having a good hunting dog.
Proper socialization is the alliance that binds other factors in place as the training advances. Other necessary ingredients include health care, proper nutrition and exercise.
It is feasible to work on several aspects of a dog’s advancement at a time. For example, a puppy can be exposed to your neighborhood at the same time as getting him acclimated to walking on a lead or training him to heel. Another way is to let a puppy run and explore an open field while on a long leash so that you can start to institute a sense of control.
Throughout the first year, your puppy’s world should be expanded from the house to the backyard, to the training and hunting fields. Your puppy should start socializing with other dogs. You should introduce him to travel crates, boats, game birds, gun and gunfire. You may decide that you want to utilize the help of a dog training collar, to get your dog on the track to success.
On your puppy’s first day in the field, if you attempted to train him, it would be difficult to do if he hadn’t had any exposure to it before. It wouldn’t be right to expect the dog to pay attention or be able to focus, trying to learn. This is due to the fact that he would be too busy looking at all of the exciting, unfamiliar, distracting, or scary things that would likely divert all of his attention.
Creating a Plan
It will be helpful if you create a specific plan for your puppy. Evaluate where your puppy is in the learning process. Take note of what areas you have touched upon and what you haven’t. This allows you to see what areas you need to work on with your dog.
Jot down notes after your training session is finished, on what progress the puppy has made, and what should ideally take place in the next session. Doing so will allow you to think about each choice that is made as the puppy continues to be socialized to all that is a part of the hunting dog world, while folding in some of the basic commands. Training them on “No”, “Sit” and “Heel” will further reinforce what you are trying to accomplish with the pup down the road.
According to experts, training a dog with a crate is a key aspect in both training a puppy and keeping him safe. Doing so, should begin the very first day that the puppy comes home with you. Once the puppy feels comfortable in the crate, you can begin taking him on short trips in the car. Ideally, you should take your puppy somewhere where you can let him out to go and play.
You don’t want the only time he goes out into the car to be when he goes to the veterinarian. Your local dog park would be perfect. It is a great place for him to become socialized with other dogs, while playing with family members at the same time. Taking him to a basic obedience class is also highly recommended.
There are sure to be certain aspects in the outside world that will scare your pup. However, it is important not to overlook getting him used to open cover areas with brush and timber, since you are likely to hunt these types of areas together at some point. Allow your puppy to feel free to explore fields and shadow areas while chasing game birds. Doing so allows you to help cultivate the dog’s predatory drive, endowing the dog with confidence while developing his strength and endurance.
Be certain to introduce your pup to bodies of water. Even dogs who are primarily being trained for upland hunting will need to cross a creek occasionally. The bottom line is that when you introduce your puppy to swimming through the water now, it will help you later on.
Training your puppy involves both discipline and reward. Logically, good performance is rewarded by praising your dog with positive reinforcement. Discipline is learned through various methods of training, all of which involve setting boundaries for the pup. The dog needs to understand how far you are willing to let him go, and respect those boundaries. He needs to know when it is time to retrieve, and when it is time to stop running.
For your puppy’s first experience with retrieving birds, hunting experts recommend going to a quiet area and using a cold, dead pigeon. This is because this means that the bird isn’t going to flop around, or scare a shy puppy, and won’t be too exciting for a puppy that has a stronger will. Let the puppy hold the bird, bit be ready to stop them from shaking it or biting down.
No dog is born to be fearful of guns. With that being said, it is possible for dogs with more timid natures to be a bit more gun shy than others. Nevertheless, most dogs can be trained to understand that the sound of a gun firing means there is a reward for them, which is a down game for them to retrieve.