Lack of respect is one of the most serious problems faced by gun dog owners today. Even thought a hunting dog has been well schooled, he may not perform up to his training level if his owner doesn’t insist on maintaining a proper level of respect from his dog.
Too many times, long awaited and well planned hunts are ruined or seriously compromised by out of control dogs who hunt for themselves instead of for the team.
One of the major hurdles I face as a professional dog trainer is my clients’ lack of motivation to discipline their animals to a proper degree when they go home. When a new owner picks up his dog, I assign certain drills and/or exercises that need refining to become a more solid part of the dog’s repertoire of skills. My goal in giving these assignments to clients is to transfer the respect level from me to the client in a seamless way.
Of course I know that the simple act of going home will create excitement for the dog, and that alone can undermine any dog’s working attitude. Making this transition as easy as possible is why I like to spend one-on-one time with a client as much as possible to show him how to maintain a business like relationship through work so that harsh disciplined won’t be needed later.
This is one of the benefits offered by a professional trainer and one you pay for; so, take advantage of it. It’s unreasonable to expect your dog who misbehaves at home to perform up to his training level in the field. Challenging your dog to do things your way in all areas of his life will force the animal not only to become a better hunter but will even elevate the respect your dog has for you. All any hunter can ask of his dog is that he perform to his training level, and in order to get that level of performance from your dog isn’t difficult. All you need to do is wok him frequently and with consistency in your sessions at home.
Just by demanding that your dog sit straight at heel and not move as you throw a bumper can be helpful. Making him come to a proper parallel position at your side and deliver the bumper nicely is another chance to demand a high standard. If he needs correction, a light nick with the collar or a tap with the ?Wiffle bat is the kind of action that can raise your level of performance and build on your foundation of respect.
It’s your job as a trainer/handler to let your trainee know that you are not asking, you’re telling him that he must perform each command to the standard you’ve set.
As you can see, being demanding doesn’t always mean that heavy discipline is needed. Setting a standard of performance and insisting your trainee meet that standard on a daily basis will get you all the respect you’ll ever need to make all your days afield enjoyable. Remember, dogs always think you know best unless you foolishly prove otherwise.Train smart!
Grady Istre can be reached at reiber.com and his archived columns on dog training that appear every other week in WON can be seen at wonews.com under blogs.
Grady Istre writes every other week on dog training and can be reached at reibar.com.