First Time Advice on Gun Dog Training from a Struggling Novice
Beginning on the path of gun dog training is no small feat. It is a world of obstacles, failures, and defeat. But the challenge is worth the reward and the companionship is worth a lifetime. Novice to novice, these are the five important things we should know before we start this exciting and timeless journey.
Start with a Good Dog with a Breed that Works for You
When it comes to getting a gun dog we all have a check list on what we want to do or what we want the dog to do. Whether its waterfowl, pheasants, or a grouse dog, we need to look at breeds that fit the vision we have. We must consider temperament, size, and anything else relevant to our home lifestyle, as a gun dog is 24/7 commitment. Past that it is important to research the breeder we intend to get our dog from.
Recently, I spent some time training around another Wiredhaired Pointing Griffon. She would growl every time a person came near, which shocked me for a dog with a reputation for being soft and loving. The dog feared just about everything, birds, guns, you name it. I asked the obvious question of what happened to this poor dog to get this way. The answer wasn’t what I expected. “This behavior started with the breeder, as their line has received a bit of a poor reputation for this overly fearful behavior, resulting in a sometimes-aggressive showing. Add in some inexperienced gun dog training and this is what you get.”
A Good Gun Dog is More About Us Than Them
If we went about it the right way on choosing a gun dog then the success or failure of that dog is on our shoulders. Now we shouldn’t take this too seriously, as this is about an exciting learning experience but often issues that arise with gun dog training is on the handler not on the dog. We teach them bad habits, we slack on their training, they act out because we did not give them the tools and opportunities they needed.
The question is not is the dog ready to be a gun dog it is are we ready to be a good gun dog handler. That leads us to our next point…
You Get Back What You Put In
This probably isn’t the first time any of us have heard that, but if anything stands true on gun dog training, it’s that as much as we put in is as much as we get back. A gun dog requires time and dedication to mold it into a top-notch bird dog. That is something to consider for any of us when we look at the reality of time we must dedicate in our lives. Jobs, family obligations, hobbies, whatever it maybe, there needs to be a clear amount of time that’s allotted for our hunting companion.
Now, we all are not looking for a top-notch field trial dog, but we do want at least a decent meat dog. We should just put our expectations in line with what we actually put into our gun dogs.
Seek out Experienced Guidance in Gun Dog Training
There is nothing wrong with having the guidance of a professional dog trainer when it comes time to start putting together a decent bird dog. Whether we hire a trainer or join an organization like NAVHDA (The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association), the input of experienced trainers is paramount in many situations. Like us, they have failed, they have experienced the good, and the bad along the road to a good gun dog. Of course we would like you to supplement that training with Gun Dog Confidential, but hands on experience can help accelerate us to a good gun dog.
There is More than One Right Way to Train a Gun Dog
We should all take people that forcefully voice a single opinion (as the only fact) on an open-ended subject like gun dog training as a major red flag. It is an unfortunate by product of many activities, gun dog training just happens to exaggerate it. It is imperative that both novice AND expert trainers recognize that but also the importance of neutrality and non-judgmental environments. Fostering the future of gun dog culture more than ever relies on us recognizing that we are all at different levels, seek different goals, and want to just plain feel welcomed.
We shouldn’t be unwilling to hear alternative methods or reasoning’s but we all have a responsibility to accept someone’s personal choices on the path of gun dog training.
This is a journey you will not regret.
Last modified: June 19, 2017