Whether it's big game or small, duck or deer, your dog needs to be skilled in the art of hunting. Before you begin hunting dog training, there are some basics required for success. Your dog's education can begin when your pup is around six months old, introducing whistles, check cords and birds as well as a few simple commands. The goal is to equip the dog for success while ensuring the safety of your dog during a hunt.
Gunfire is an artificial invasion in the field. If you try to rush this part of the training, the pup could become gun shy or nervous and jittery about loud noises. The goal is to introduce the dog to the sounds of gunfire in small and consistent doses, creating positive pairings. This can be a lengthy process, and is more than firing a gun followed by a little treat. Take the time to carefully reconcile the pup to these sounds.
At around ten months old, you will need to move on to field work, accustoming the animal to whistles and trainer commands. The goal here is to develop pointing instincts as well as the patience that is so critical during the actual hunt.
Now that your puppy/dog has completed basic training, he/she must remain steadfast to wing and shot. Commands such as "hold" must be heeded and now is the time for exposure to real-world hunting situations. Once completed, the dog will have learned to work outside and off-leash. This includes the Retrieve (Deliver) to Hand command; which is teaching the dog to bring back the prey without damaging it. For the dog that doesn't retrieve to hand, spend time reinforcing the "Here" command. In addition, this stage of the training can involve teaching the dog to respect another dog’s point as well as to resist the urge to flush out birds.
Any dog with parents that were hunting dogs will naturally be inclined to hunt, and will likely have abilities that will help it in its training. An obvious bonus to hunting dog training is that it will teach your dog basic skills beyond normal obedience. Come, Sit, Stay are a bonus of this specialized training. It is also not unusual for the hunting dog training routine to require trips into the field to acclimate the dog to the full effect of a real situation. Don't forget...your dog should be trained in a variety of seasons and a variety of weather conditions in hunting a variety of game.
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