Dog Training: Too Much of a Good Thing…

February 29, 2012 | By | Reply More

(John Bayne photo)

by Jeremy Criscoe

Everyone has probably heard the statement, “My 6-month-old dog picked up six birds this year!” Or, “My 8-month-old dog started out great this year, but now he/she isn’t getting into the water and seems shaky around guns.”

This is quite common. Hunting young pups always turns into too much of a good thing when it’s all at once. Without proper training programs, you can create too many issues by hunting your dog at such an early age.

Never jeopardize the training of your hunting partner by thinking you have to get him in the field early. Below are a few of the things you’ll want to make sure your dog has seen before taking him/her into the field on a true hunt:

1. Make sure the young prospect has completed a training program that is thorough.

One that has covered all aspects of the skills required for a well-rounded hunting dog. For example, gunfire, birds, elements and environment.

2. Make sure you expose them to gunfire in proper form.

Do this by exposing your dog to the sound of a gun at a proper distance, then get closer as you see the dog is okay with the sound. It’s best to use smaller-gauge guns and move up to the 12 bores. It’s also better to introduce retrieves when you practice this, to associate it with the gunfire.

3. Make sure you expose them to different types/sizes of birds.

For example, dove, pigeon, small ducks and then move up to the larger birds, like mallards and geese. Including this training technique will help insure that your dog will pick up the birds when you carry him/her on a hunt in the fields.


A ton of things can discourage a young dog from ever hunting again, and you’ll want to make sure you’re not exposing them to these incorrect techniques. Here are a few situations that you’ll want to make sure you’re not exposing your dog to, because it will create problems for you on down the road:

1. Cold water is bad for young pups.

Too much cold without the proper introduction is a bad thing. As the dog gets older, his coat will get more oils and a thicker undercoat, which will help him battle this element.

2. Boats/boat motors can spook young dogs that have never been for a ride.

Before hitting the water for your first waterfowl hunt, try loading your dog in and out of the boat several times without the motor running. You can also take a young dog to a public boat launch and let him watch boats and hear the boat motors running.

Now you’re ready to take him for a ride.

3. Different types of hunting blinds can be uncomfortable for them and cause them stress.

Before trying to hunt your dog in any type of blind, you should at least introduce him/her to these blinds. Dog huts, sled blinds, pit blinds, tree stands for timber hunting – it’s always better to run a dog through these before trying to hunt it. This way he becomes familiar with them before being put into a situation that could become very stressful for him.

Not Too Much

The right way to prepare your dog for its first hunt is to expose him to the different elements of a hunt before taking him out into the field. This way if any problems are identified they are done so in a controlled situation – allowing you to work on them and correct them before they become a lifelong issue for your dog.

If you’re having any problems with your dog that you’d like some advice or help with, just drop us an email or check us out on Facebook and maybe we can help you out.

(Jeremy Criscoe owns Whistling Wings Kennel. Here’s his website and Facebook page.)


Category: Dogs in general

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