When it comes to training dogs, there are a number of different training options. Above all, obedience training should be provided to learn basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “come”, and “heel”. However, in some situations, more refined training would be required.
A service dog for the deaf and blind would learn to guide and perform specific tasks to help a person through daily life. A search and rescue dog would be taught to find people based primarily on tracking and smell.
Then, you have hunting dogs, with the majority being around guns. In this case, gun dog training would be required to help the dog become accustomed to the sound of a gun being fired but also methods of retrieving and in some cases, tracking.
Gun dog training is unique and very specialized. We wanted to take the opportunity to provide helpful tips to make the process far easier but also more effective and safer.
Obviously, not all dogs would do well with training of this kind but for hunting dogs used in the field, training of this kind would be mandatory. Otherwise, a dog would be frightened, a problem that would cause significant problems while hunting or even disqualification for hunting.
The first step prior to taking a dog through gun dog training would be for him to complete obedience training. Because a hunting dog works so closely with his master, he must learn to follow all the basic commands.
Not only would this be important for the hunter in knowing the dog would mind but even more importantly, obedience training would build trust between owner and dog, which is critical when it comes time for gun dog training.
Another important factor would be having the dog checked by a reputable veterinarian to make sure he is healthy, more specifically to confirm he has no hearing and/or sight problems.
Another consideration before providing gun dog training would be for the owner to understand and be prepared for a long training period but also to realize this kind of training is for life.
In other words, the initial training would take six months or more but to develop a puppy into a valuable hunting partner as an adult, there must be ongoing training. For a hunting dog working in the field for eight, nine, ten years or longer, the owner would expect to provide refresher courses throughout that time.
While there is definitely a different level of commitment when it comes to gun dog training, in return the owner would end up with an incredible hunting partner, one he trusts, depends on, and respects. For the dog, he would be provided with a life of “fun”, as well as reward and safety.
One critical note is that because several strangers could be hunting the same area, having control over a hunting dog would be imperative. As an example, a dog that has not been provided both obedience and gun dog training could have a tendency of getting out too far from his owner.
Unfortunately, there have been many hunting dogs that have lost their lives because of improper training and lack of control. For instance, another hunter could see movement of an animal and believing it was a deer or something else being hunted, choose to shoot.
Although this would be completely on accident, with gun dog training, both dog and master would know limitations as far distance between dog and master while hunting but also return to his master immediately upon being summoned. The bottom line is that commitment for gun dogs requires year round teaching, not just actual training while young, but also refresher sessions on and off-season.
The following are some miscellaneous tips that would help make gun dog training successful:
As a puppy, it would be important to start training of this type slowly. Even the smartest dog would need time to acclimate to being outdoors in a hunting situation so initially, the owner would need to show patience.
Prior to training, the puppy should be taken to several hunting environments during the off-season and be allowed to walk around to take in the different sights, sounds, and smells. After all, this environment would be different than being in a backyard or home so he needs time to process the sounds and smells of birds, squirrels, fox, and other animals along the way.
The owner would also need to introduce the dog to different noises prior to actual gun dog training. This would include taking the dog around water, boats, and even gunfire. For gunfire, rather than shoot a gun nearby, it is strongly recommended that another trusted individual go with the owner and dog, walk a good distance away, and then fire the gun.
The puppy would react by stopping, looking, and listening. However, after hearing multiple gunshots over a period of time, that particular sound would become familiar. The best option would be to have the individual get a little closer after four or five shots so that over the course of weeks, another “hunter” would be a short distance away without the puppy becoming afraid.
One of the key factors to being successful with gun dog training is consistency. With regular and ongoing training, the puppy would quickly learn the owner is there to provide guidance and protection. This creates a trusting and confident partner for every hunting situation.
Over a six-month period, the owner has a hunting dog that has been exposed to a number of environments and situations that has the ability to respond in an appropriate manner without feeling afraid or timid.