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Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Dog blinds
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
The small things


Training attitude
If you are training your gun dog yourself, you should be aware of the necessity of maintaining a good training attitude in your protégé at all times.

A good hunting dog is always the desired result, so being careful not to overplay your hand when discipline is used is something every trainer should strive to understand and implement. Finding ways to maintain a good working attitude every session is an essential goal. Dogs are forgiving, but they have a limit as to how much negativity they will tolerate. Being aware of their energy and knowing when to end a lesson is the key.


Dogs are individuals, and they all have different levels of tolerance for discipline. There’s a time when their attitudes can go from one of willingness to one of rebellion and/or con­fusion. So, it’s necessary to know your own dog’s signs before you reach the end of his tolerance.


Some dogs may decide to give up and others may rebel under stress. Both grinding repetition, and/or too much correction can trigger unwanted behavior. There are various signs of avoidance and each dog has his own way of giving his trainer the message of “too much” or “I quit.”


It’s not prudent to work a dog into a situation where he thinks being back in the kennel is preferable to being in the field. When that kind of negative attitude becomes evident, I blame the trainer, because he should be reading the dog more accurately before reaching that crossroad.


The trainer should be careful to remain calm, fair, and ready to explain the situation to the dog when necessary. Just going back to the teaching part of the lesson relieves pressure and can get the dog back into his proper positive learning mode.


There is no time when losing one’s temper results in a positive outcome. Remember that there’s another choice: stop the training session and decide to resume the work the next day. Or, turn to something easy that the dog enjoys and does well. Then, you can reward that good work with a flyer or some deserved praise. The last thing the dog should do is something positive so he can relax, unflustered.


Training a dog is, for me, much easier than training his owner. Often, beginners are reluctant to ask questions. They either think they will appear foolish or that they will interrupt the flow of the training session. It’s natural for trainers to assume that owners know more than they do.


We sometimes forget to explain things in language a novice can understand. That’s why I encourage my clients to speak up and let me know when anything is unclear. I really want to have confident, self-assured clients because I’ve learned that it’s lack of knowledge that promotes frustration and even anger.


Working a dog while angry is a huge mistake because it can easily change the dog’s attitude and make him resentful. Trying to restore a dog’s confidence and joy in working can be an uphill battle.


The trainer’s efforts will take time away from progressing the dog’s education and a resentful dog may carry negative memories that exhibit themselves as intentional misbehavior under competitive or hunting conditions. This is a situation to avoid, fellow hunters. Taking a piece of a dog’s overall training attitude can’t be replaced. If you just keep training fair where the dog makes progress, and gets a reward of some sort, you will usually stay out of trouble. The partnership of man and dog is a noble goal and a well-earned reward that every hunter should strive for.


Always have fun training!


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Grady’s column usually appear every other week in WON and he can be reached at reibar.com.


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