Even if your not planing to work your dog, you can still enjoy training he/she as if you were, creating a greater bond between yourself and your dog. After all, it is your dogs natural instinct to hunt, be it self employed or in a partnership with you!
The main things to remember in the training of your dog is that
It isn't that hard, and certainly not as hard as some would try and have you believe, and it has to be fun!
That you want to nurture your Gundogs natural abilities.
That you want your dog working for you because it wants to, not because it fears the consequences if it doesn't.
No over handling and only letting your dog know it has gone wrong by verbal correction.
If a trainer ever tells you"to train a gundog to a good standard you need to show it who's boss"(if you know what I mean)
Because if they cannot train a dog by setting the dog up to never fail and by having a dog who knows he has done wrong by just a gruff of the voice, well then that trainer is not a good enough trainer to be teaching you no matter what they have achieved, if they train by physical reprimand then they are either to lazy to use their full talent to good or do not have enough talent.
Their are some wonderful trainers out there who will teach you more than you could ever imagine, enabling you to have an even greater bond with your dog, and these types of trainers should be cherished. Media now a days can be used for good, as sometimes bad trainers are stupid enough to put clips up of themselves training a dog in a manner that should not be allowed.
Sadly there are a few trainers, as in all walks of life, that shine on the outside but once you have been with them for a while their true colours appear. They throw their kindness training out of the window because they have not been able to resolve a problem or they have lost their temper, don't worry just
and go find another trainer, never give up, they are out there.
Just a few Tips
- Please remember I am not a trainer, just a handler, so the tips I give are gained from experience and learning from some great and wonderful professional trainers. They are a very rough guide that over time I will expand on. The clips are a great way to show you how we do it and there will be more made to show you the different stages.
- One of the best tips I was ever given was to 'Take it steady with your dog'. Until the dog is confident with an exercise do not move on to the next level. If when you do move to the next level the dog gets it wrong, don't worry, just take it back to the level it was happy and achieving at so you can finish that training session on a good note. You can always try again another day, far better that then you getting frustrated with the dog thereby making the dog feel unsure about what it is doing.
The sit position A quick run through
When you place your dog in a sit, always go back to your dog, never recall it from a sit. If you never recall your dog from the sit position it will create a dog that expects to stay in that position until you go back to it, not one that is waiting in anticipation for you to recall, therefore expecting to move at any point.
The stop can be taught with positive training methods, to do otherwise would just lead to more complications later and you want the dog to think not shut down. If done positively the dog will stop fast and think
'Wow, she is stopping me, something good is about to happen'
leading to a dog alert and looking. You do not want your dog on hearing the whistle to think
'Oh no, I've done something wrong'
as this will lead to a dog shutting down and not open or ready for the next command or event.
Even in this video as you will see, I say 'ah ah' one two many times, and I only do it twice but that leads to Tinks shutting down and needing encouragement to get her back on track once again. What I should have done on that occasion was to just take the dummy without praise and to then reset the exercise and make sure i set her up so she couldn't fail :)
one of the two most Important things all dog owners should teach their dog
It is quite easy really, I just stuck by some Golden rules that I found worked for me and with some added Golden rules taught to me by some excellent trainers, two of which being the best trainers (as far as I am concerned) in the UK if not the world, and one isn't a Gundog trainer :)
The Golden Rules of the stop
Never recall from a sit
One must remember that the SIT is the STOP. As soon as one starts training a pup or adult dog that hasn't been trained, or when recapping with an adult dog that has been trained, one should never recall from a sit but to always go back to the dog before releasing, this will mean that the dog will expect that, that will become the habit, creating a solid Sit. If one trains a dog to recall from a sit, then one has a dog that is always waiting for the recall and therefore the habit you have created in the dog will be to expect at some point to run in to you, therefore creating an unsteady dog through anticipation of the recall, and one never wants to create a bad habit that one will later have to change for habits are by nature hard to break and we never want to break a dog.
Some Gundog people worry that teaching the sit from an early age in any form will supress a dog, this is not the case if taught with kindness/treats/vocal praise. I teach my girls the obedience side of Gundog training with all three of the above for one wants the dog to have a reward for the correct actions, it encourages the dog to do what otherwise would/could seem boring work. The dog gets a reward for the retrieving work and that is the retrieve, so why should it not get a reward for other work.
Sit while balls are thrown
When teaching a dog to retrieve I will hold the pup and throw the ball out and then release the pup, and as time goes on the pup/dog will be on lead while the ball is thrown out and then off the lead while the ball is thrown so that the dog never expects to run in after the ball until released by command or action, which sets the ground work up for the next step in the Stop. I would have also incorporated the whistle during this time.
Once the sit is good and steady and the training is coming along, I will start to ask the dog to sit and then put myself in a place in-between the dog and the ball I am about to gently throw and once that ball is thrown I will go and pick the ball up and go back to the dog and praise, and that praise can be voice action or even treats as you are praising for the sit as the retrieve has not yet happened, and whatever reward one uses you must make it clear in whatever way suits you and your dog that the dog has done exactly what you asked. Do not bore the dog with this in anyway, do it two or three times and then do something else, I stand by the dog and throw the ball in and then allow the dog to go and get the ball.If the dog goes wrong, just use your voice to let the dog know it has gone wrong, but not to aggressively for you do not want to put the dog of retrieving and because you don't want to use your really annoyed voice until the dog is older and possibly on live game. I did use to run after the dog as well, the action of the running lets the dog know it has obviously done wrong (as you know I do not physically correct my dog as some would do once they had caught up with the dog) but even the action of myself just gently running in I have stopped. I stopped that under instruction of one of the wise ones, for even the running in can put a dog off and/or confuse the dog, and the voice has let the dog know it has done wrong. If the dog goes wrong it is your job to make sure the dog doesn't go wrong again by setting the exercise up better and making it more clear to the dog what you want, so that this time the dog may get the praise and therefore can see the difference from when the dog got it wrong and when the dog got it right. Make sure that reward, whatever it may be, is a clear reward, no mumbling 'well done' or even saying 'Good boy' in a boring flat tone, that dog wants and has earned your praise and therefore you should reward it with a happy and pleased verbal praise/treat/cuddle or all three.The Throw Past
This is next step in the stop, and to begin with you will need your dog on the lead for you will be throwing balls past your dogs nose and asking for the sit by verbal and or whistle command. The aim that you are walking with the dog on lead by your side when without your dog knowing you throw a ball low to the ground past your dog, whereupon you ask for the sit, and you do this until the dog automatically sit without a command. Now again ,as for the rest of the steps, you do not want to bore your dog and you want to make sure your dog gets plenty of praise for doing what you ask it to do. You progress to walking with the dog on a loose lead and throwing the ball as you and the dog are moving, again aiming for the dog to start automatically stopping when the ball goes past. Then one progress to moving around with the dog off lead, trying to get a little distance between you and the dog before throwing the ball low and past the dog on the ground. Your goal is to have the dog hunting in front of you whereupon you throw the ball low and past the dog and the dog stops automatically without any command. Throughout you have never let the dog retrieve that ball. You have praised for the sit, and then picking that ball up walked to the side of the dog where you thrown another ball out for the dogs reward and release. This action also becomes clear in the dogs mind that when it hunts and something shoots past it the dog sits, and when the dog is by your side and something falls out of the sky it goes and retrieves it, which is exactly what you want it to do on shoot in both examples. Praise, Do not Bore, Do not use correction, and make you requests clear.
- Hold the dog in your arms, or if he/she is too big for that just hold her close whilst throwing the retrieve article. Hold the dog until she has calmed down and then let her go for the retrieve. No sits commands or wait commands, you are just teaching your dog the joy of retrieving and because you want her to continue enjoying it, only do 3 or so retrieves a day, and not every day.
- When your young one is coming back with the retrieve article, encourage them right into your arms with the retrieve item still in it's mouth. Do not take the item away from the young one straight away, just praise it warmly and then take it. This will help create a dog that does not drop the dummy as it approaches you, or one that runs around you but does not come near you. Keeping down the number of retrieves thrown for the dog also helps that.
- Remember that while you do not want to instil any bad habits at this early age, you do want the dog to be happy and really enjoying it, especially as basic training can be boring so you need to have short sessions and make them fun.
These are great for your dog and can put so much fun into just a normal walk.
Always make sure it is safe for you to set the blind up and that, as in all training, you progress at your dogs pace and change where you lay the retrieve and mix it up, different places etc. Use natural barriers as your dog progress by placing a dummy on the other side of an open bush so the dog has to go through that barrier to get the article, it all helps the dog expand their brain and to give them great confidence for the future. Our dogs remember the retrieves far better than i do, does that say something about me? :))
When I replayed this clip I realised how serious my tone of voice sounded, do not sound as I do in this clip when training your girls. I think this was one of the first clips I made therefore was thinking of the camera a bit to much
When teaching your dog to quarter (hunt) do not do so by treats.
Encourage the dog to hunt near you at all times, dropping a few tennis balls (unseen by the dog)
close to you and encouraging your dog to work that area until found.
When your dog is old enough to work on game he/she will naturally take more ground (go further away from you) so the tighter you keep your youngster now, the better.
Here is our Bella, we chose her to do the clips because all of our other dogs were water babes, Bella, bless her was not and to begin with was a terrible swimmer but with fun and patience she is now fine in the water.
We put this little clip up to show you how we go through teaching our dogs how to swim, or should I say the joys of swimming.
The reeds cut down the splash back the dogs when first learning hate and it makes them feel more secure.
We also start them of in the reeds because it is the shallow end, meaning they can still feel the ground beneath them. The more confident they get the further we throw it through the reeds.
If they have the drive for a ball, it is easy to teach, as long as you make it fun and no pressure.