The perfect gundog is molded from a fearless and headstrong puppy. However, training an effective hunting dog requires ample time and patience. For this reason, many breeders and trainers offer packages that deliver a fully or partially-trained hunting companion, but the fee is often higher than what many hunters can afford. DIY training your gundog can be a fun and rewarding experience, but you must be willing and able to commit to long hours of instruction and consistent reinforcement.
Here are some tips for training your first working dog.
Seek Advice From the Experts
Thankfully, the relationship between man and dog has been studied for thousands of years, and you don’t need to build your training curriculum from scratch. For every breed out there, there are experts who have already discovered and documented the common traits and idiosyncrasies you need to know. To learn about the nature and behavior of working breeds, you can consult one of the many specialized gundog training guides that strive to clarify the elements of commanding a gundog. Following a plan or program to train your hunting dog is crucial to your success at home and in the field.
Be Prepared for Anything
After several months of diligent and comprehensive training, you’ll be eager to test your pup in the field during a hunt. However, introducing your dog to a new environment can present several unanticipated consequences. If there’s an unidentified weakness in your pack leadership abilities, your gundog could act out, run away and ignore your verbal commands. Implementing backup plans and using tools like a Garmin GPS tracking collar can ease your anxiety when your dog wanders out of your line of sight.
Focus on Your Bond
One of the advantages of DIY training is getting to know one another and establishing a deep bond with your dog. When your dog trusts you, it will want to please you and follow your commands. In the field, a well-bred hunter will act instinctively, but a well-loved dog will always have an ear out for its master. If you are the most important thing in your puppy’s life from the very beginning, then training and working should be a breeze.
If you’re working with an adult or rescued dog, then the journey to molding a perfect hunter may have a few more bumps, but as long as the bond is there, it can be done.
Training any dog is a lot of work, but working with a hunting dog can occasionally place you in some intense situations. These dogs love adventure and excitement, so prepare to get wet, muddy, and maybe even a little bit bloody from time to time. Just don’t forget the reason you started this endeavor in the first place. Whether you’re a homesteader stocking your own freezer, a competitive shooter, or a hobbyist, if it’s not fun for you and your best four-legged friend, it’s not worth doing.
These tips will help you turn your wild, unruly pup into the perfect pointer, flusher, and retriever. Remember, though, the author of your gundog training manual has never met your puppy, so you may have issues the text doesn’t address. It’s okay to improvise, adjust and seek alternative advice when you need it. Your relationship with your best hunting buddy is worth all the work you put in.