for training bird dogs and hunting dogs
It is advisable to carry
bottled water with you for your dog's drinking water when away
from home or fill up jugs of water your dog is accustomed to from
your home. If you suddenly let your dog drink water that is
treated with a water softener, and the dog has been accustomed to
harder water, Pooch may get diarrhea. This leads to dehydration
and can quickly ruin a hunt.
2. In the field carry a pair
of hemostats, an antibiotic eye ointment without steroids, and 2
ounces of hydrogen peroxide. The hemostats can be used to remove
imbedded foreign objects such as glass, thorns, or porcupine
quills. Treat eye injuries as soon as possible and get the dog to
a veterinarian. A couple of ounces of hydrogen peroxide poured
down the dog's throat will make the dog vomit immediately. If the
dog has ingested a poison, make the dog vomit and get it to the
vet. Do not make the dog vomit if he has ingested sharp objects,
such as chicken bones.
3. Speaking of vets,
know where the closet medical help is available before an
emergency arises. The time to try to locate a phone book is not
when your dog needs immediate attention. If you are away from
home, locate a veterinarian service that offers after-hours
can't stress enough that puppies not properly socialized will
never reach their full potential. In my experience, pups isolated
from positive people contact prior to 12 weeks of age are a
5. I recently received a
letter from an individual who had purchased a six-month-old dog.
Since birth, the dog had been kenneled with its littermates, and
when anyone approached the enclosure all pups had sought refuge in
the doghouse. At eight months the pup was reticent and timid. I
was sorry to have to tell the owner that because of this lack of
socialization it would be almost impossible to make his dog into a
first-rate hunting companion.
6. During your dog's
first six months it is critical that the pup come to know and
trust you and that you learn to understand the pup's developing
personality. You will see the pup mature and its ability to
concentrate increase. A key ingredient in training is to know when
the dog is ready to learn as well as when it's ready to move on.
7. To properly expose
the pup, take it for walks where it will be introduced to new
scents, people and other animals. Let strangers spoil it. Pup
needs to see the world, not just your backyard.
is what it's all about-the button-popping pride of watching your
pup develop into a world-class shooting dog. The more birds your
dog is exposed to, the better bird dog it will become. But your
dog will first need to learn to hunt. It won't learn this in the
backyard sitting perfectly, holding a dummy in its mouth.
birds, birds. This is the key to your dog learning to hunt. If you
don't live in an area where Pup can find lots of wild birds, join
a hunting preserve or lease a farmer's field and use pen-raised
birds. The bottom line is that if your dog does not see birds, it
will never become an accomplished bird dog.
performance in response to your commands should be one of your
training goals. This is accomplished through repetition, as a dog
learns by rote, much as you did when learning the multiplication
tables. Keep in mind that a dog's attention span is limited;
therefore short, frequent training sessions are far more effective
than longer but fewer lessons.
11. Get into the habit of
saying a command only once. Say the command, then make the pup
comply. A well-trained dog performs the first time and will only
do this if you command excellence. If your dog learns it does not
have to obey "Here" the first time, you may just lose it
to a speeding truck on a back road.
tell clients in my dog training school, "If I wanted my son
to be a plumber, I wouldn't give him a wrench on his first
birthday." In other words, do not expect unrealistic feats
from your pup. Too much early formal training may take style and
pizzazz out of a youngster. It is wiser to err on the side of
13. Pup will need to learn
certain commands from a safety standpoint and for acceptable
behavior in the house. For example, early on you will want to
teach the pup "No" and that biting is intolerable. You
can also start teaching "Here" by running away from the
pup saying "Here, here, here." When the youngster gets
to you, reward it with a treat, an "Attaboy" or a pat.
14. When the dog is 10 to 12
weeks old, you can begin teaching, "Sit, Hup" or
"Whoa." Don't make the dog comply for long periods. Your
job at this stage is to show the pup what the command means, not
demand that it respond like a pro. I don't like to teach
"Sit" to the pointing breeds before I teach
"Whoa," as pups that are taught "Sit" first
have a tendency to sit when being taught "Whoa."
15. If you have a pointing
breed, you can play "wing on a string," but don't over
do it. This is a sight game and, if over done, may encourage
creeping. I play this game only to bring out the pointing instinct
in dogs up to 12 to 14 weeks old.
16. Developing retrieving
instincts early is beneficial. Use a rolled up sock, dummy or
tennis ball. Start the pup off retrieving in a corridor so it
cannot run away with its prize. The object you use for these
sessions should not be left around for the dog to chew on; it is a
your dog into shape and toughen its pads before the first day of
hunting season. Running your dog slowly for long distances is the
best initial conditioning. A dog embarking on a full day's hunt
with soft pads can be bad news. If the dog gets torn pads, it may
be out of commission for quite some time. Do not run the dog on
asphalt. Hard-packed dirt and sand are ideal surfaces for
18. Whenever possible,
hunt your dog into the wind. The dog will produce birds if the
wind is blowing scent to its nose, rather than away from its scent
19. Make sure all of your
dog's vaccinations, heartworm, and tick preventatives are up to
date. Coyotes, foxes, rodents, and parasites are lurking out
there. Be prepared.
20. Make hunting fun for you
and your dog. Don't expect your dog to do things that you haven't
trained it to do. Also remember that the dog doesn't understand
the King's English. Don't expect excellence from a young dog in
its debut or from a dog that is untrained. Give your pup the
experience and make it a happy time.
Here to read published articles by George Hickox on dog training and handling.