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Casual Gun Dog Training
Training begins the day you bring your new pup home. There are many different standards for formal training that will vary from trainer to trainer. Formal training is necessary and serves a great purpose. However, if you begin your dog’s life with casual training during the off season or before he is introduced to any sort of hunting then you are ahead of the game and will typically have more success with any formal training that might be in the future. A better term for casual training could be “come alongside training” because that is exactly what it is. You offer your dog an opportunity to be immersed into your world where he can train by hearing and seeing and understanding your expectations for him. From day one, it is pertinent that you reward good behavior and punish bad. There is no time frame for this, nor is it necessary to wait until he messes up to offer this kind of training. You are basically conditioning your dog to become the best he can be.
Benefits of Casual Training
Often dog owners will have questions like: What is the best method? Why does my dog not do this? Why does my dog do that? All of these questions are valid questions and can usually be answered by an expert or hunting buddy looking in from the outside. However, most of these questions could be avoided if from the very day your pup joins the family you begin conditioning her for life as a hunting dog. It sounds simple and it really is. You take what you know about your dog and train around his positive and negative qualities. Most of the time a dog will display his true nature within the first days and weeks of being in your home. The environment in which you offer him can add to, or take away from what it already bred within him.
Simple Steps to Take
- Pay attention early: You can learn so much about your dog just simply by paying attention to his reactions and behaviors from day one and not waiting for an actual hunting exercise.
- Reinforce good behavior: Let your dog know when he is doing something you approve of.
- Deal with bad behavior quickly: This can't be stressed enough. If you wait, it will be more work for you later.
- Move on: If you dwell on the bad behavior you can actually create more bad behavior. Correct it and move on to something positive.
- Be consistent: Don’t be tough one minute and relaxed the next.
- Practice exposure: Expose him to situations where he needs to practice his positive behavior: A dog that stays in the kennel or locked in the house and never gets his behavior challenged will more than likely require more formal training and time than a dog that comes alongside you everyday.
Using your time wisely at the beginning and bringing your dog along side of you will pay off greatly in the end and will make your whole gun dog experience better. Recognizing your dog’s strengths and weaknesses and who he is, is better by far than following an instruction manual on dog training. Your dog is an individual and he will learn better if you know this from the start.