Give Your Dog An Early Fall Tune-Up

September 24, 2010 | By | Reply More

Your hunting buddy may need some work!

by: That same buddy o’ ours!

Last time we discussed getting your dog into optimum physical condition prior to the start of a new hunting season. Now we’ll tackle getting him “back on his game.”

A pointing dog that hasn’t participated in any hunting-related activities for several months can easily backslide. For example, his manners around birds might not be quite what they were at the end of the previous season (he might “bump” the first few he encounters instead of waiting for you to arrive and do the flushing), or maybe he’ll “forget” that he’s supposed to honor another dog that’s on point and slip in and steal the point for himself.

A few remedial training sessions prior to opening day can help avoid these and other early-season pratfalls.

For starters, make sure the dog is still responding to the basic commands like “here” and “whoa,” or whatever commands you use. If necessary, revert all the way back to his puppyhood and use a check cord to enforce them.

Once those have been solidified, then a bit of bird work is in order. If you have access to wild ones, great, but the pen-raised variety will serve the purpose.

Any problems should manifest themselves right away, and at this point it’s best to show the dog precisely what you expect out of him WITHOUT resorting to the electronic collar. Physically pick him up and set him down (not violently!) in the place where he had established point, or use a check cord to keep him from breaking.

This way the dog achieves a better understanding of its job and isn’t simply being forced to submit to electricity: The worst thing you can do is change the rules in the middle of the game without the dog knowing why they’re being changed, and a dog that you try to steady around birds via the e-collar is very likely to start “blinking” (i.e. ignoring) them.

Here’s a case study: I had a guy bring me a dog that he’d been hunting and he wanted it to be steady – not jump in prior to the flush – so he’d started shocking it around birds. All he saw was a dog that was regressing. The dog would work a bird and start to point, but when the guy approached it would get nervous and start pulling away from the bird. That was the result of the owner using the e-collar without first showing the dog what he wanted.

If you have a friend you’re going to be hunting with and that person also has a dog, now’s the time to work on honoring. You don’t want one dog stealing the other dog’s point and maybe even moving in and taking the bird out. I know I’d quit hunting with the owner of that dog real quick!

Get That Potato Out There!

It’s not a good idea to take a dog that’s been a “couch potato” for six or eight months out into the field and just start hunting. He needs a little bit of preseason training. That way he can start at an acceptable level and each time out, he can progress and get better.

And you can focus on hunting rather than making yourself red in the face by yelling, screaming and blowing your whistle!

Category: Dogs in general, Preseason

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