November 11, 2021
If you want to optimize the performance of your hunting dog, it starts with discipline. If you want to enjoy being with your dog 24-7, it starts with discipline.
Building a Solid Foundation
I hear–and unfortunately see–it all too often. “I know he shouldn’t do that, but I’ve just not had the time to train him,” a buddy said about his Labrador as it stopped to chew on a duck it was in the process of retrieving. The pup was five-months-old, and the list of things it did wrong that morning greatly surpassed the things it did right. “Man, that dog is so high energy, I don’t know where to start,” my friend continued, obviously frustrated.
When I suggested he start by making the dog sit, he looked at me in guilt. “I haven’t even had time to do that,” he shrugged. “Then why did you get the pup?” I asked. Good thing for my buddy, the pup was five-months-old so he had time to fix things. That’s not always the case for hunters with new dogs.
Teach a puppy to sit, stay and come, and life will be easy. It’s simple, and only takes a few minutes of training every day. One of the questions I’m most often asked is, “When should I start training my pup?” Unfortunately, this question gets asked when the pup is several months old. Teaching a pup to sit at eight weeks of age, even seven, is not too soon.
Hunting dogs are smart and they’re looking for direction at an early age. Think about it; they’ve just been taken from their mom and litter mates, and they’re eager for attention and guidance. Giving a pup both of these starting the day you bring it home will put you light years ahead in terms of what you’ll achieve when advanced training begins.
In addition to teaching discipline, a pup needs to learn restraint. In other words, don’t let a pup’ do everything it wants to do. The instant it tries running off, stop that behavior by teaching it to heel on a lead. If it starts chewing on furniture or your shoes, immediately stop it, reprimand, and redirect the pup. The longer unwanted behaviors are allowed to continue, the harder it will be to change them and the more frustrated you’ll be.
One of the thought processes I encourage new dog owners to adopt is, think of what you don’t want your dog to do, and keep it from doing them. New dog owners are always saying “no” to their pups. No, don’t chew on that…no, don’t potty there…no, don’t eat that…no, don’t chase the cat. No is a solid command, but it must be immediately enforced and followed through upon in order to stop the unwanted behavior.
Pups have to be taught the difference between right and wrong. Letting a pup get away with inappropriate behavior only encourages it to continue. You have to teach them the behaviors you want them to display and stop them from performing unwanted behaviors.
Scott Haugen is a full-time author. Learn more about his line of books and booking service at www.scotthaugen.com. Follow his adventures on Instagram & Facebook.