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Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

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Sunday, December 11, 2011
Hunting with older dogs
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Hunting with older dog

Start the new year off right
“I’m going to make my dog a better hunter this year.” If this is one of your New Year’s resolutions, I commend you. It’s certainly a worthy goal and one I hope to help you with. If you’re willing to commit to putting in the time with your dog or pup, I’ll do what I can to provide the training material necessary to help you down this path. 
I have learned that most trainers maintain their motivation longer if they make a list of things to accomplish. So, first, write down all the positive and negative things your dog did, or did not do, during this past season.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

— How well did your dog heel to the field?
— Did he stay in gun range while questing for a bird?
— Did he hold point until you positioned yourself for the shot?
— Was your dog well mannered and steady to shot in the duck blind?
— Did he deliver the bird promptly and in good shape?

If you think back and re-live each hunt, you’ll likely come up with valuable specifics. Also, recall all the great jobs your dog did because you will want to build on the positive as well. Next, set up a realistic schedule of when you can work your dog each week. Don’t set up more days than you can reasonably manage because if training becomes a chore it will be cast aside after a short while. With jobs and family making demands on your time, it’s difficult for most trainers to put anything new into their weekly calendar. So, make the schedule reasonable and make sure the time for each session will be within your range. Dogs thrive on consistency and want to depend on their owners/trainers.

You don’t need to go to the field for every training session. Yard drills are just as important as bird work because good manners begin at home. Just working on heel and sit is always a good place to begin. Another important drill that can be accomplished in the yard is making your dog steady from both your side and remote sit position.

Getting your dog into an obedient frame of mind is the point and then you can apply that mindset to all the other lessons that follow. Putting pressure on a dog simply by teaching a new skill or advancing his knowledge of a subject already learned, gets a dog to focus on the job at hand and concentrate totally on you.

Steady, confident drill work adds layers of respect that will carry over to the field where the dog is at a distance from you. That is where the respect level gets tested and why field work is still important to maintain. Gradual advancement is the key. Remember, that you’ve got the entire off-season to build a proficient team, and keep in mind to accentuate the positive.

Have fun training!

Dog trainer Grady Istre can be reached at

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