Your hunting dog ought to know these behaviors before you take him in the field with you.
When it comes to training dogs, an ounce of prevention goes a very long way. Once a dog has learned a behavior, it can never be unlearned. Before you take your dog hunting, make sure you teach him these five necessary skills so he doesn’t learn something he shouldn’t.
1. Come When Called
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a natural behavior – especially for hunting breeds. They have a strong drive to find and chase things. If you go out without proper preparation, you’ll have a hell of time trying to get your dog back. There are so many cool animals out there to smell and find that are more exciting than humans.
Begin training at home where there are fewer distractions. Reward your dog with quality food or his favorite toy when he comes to you. Check out this whistle recall training video. If your dog learns to ignore you or takes off into a field without training, you’ll have a lot of back-peddling to do.
2. Gun Shot Conditioning
This isn’t a behavior, but it is probably more important than any behavior. Teach your dog that he shouldn’t be afraid of gun shots. One of the most common ways of doing this is by associating food with the gun shot. When introducing a gun shot, feed your dog immediately after shooting the gun. The dog will quickly learn that the gunshot predicts good things will happen.
If you plan on hanging out in one area for a while, like hiding behind a blind, you’ll want a calm, quiet dog next to you. If you haven’t taught him how to stay still for long periods of time, he could become restless and ruin your hunt.
“Whoa” is asking your dog to stop moving wherever he is so that you can shoot or make a controlled decision about the next step in your hunting process. If your dog doesn’t stop moving when you ask him to, you could accidentally shoot him or he could ruin a great opportunity.
Teaching your dog to retrieve is an important skill for any hunting dog. If you teach your dog to bring the animal back to you, you won’t spend any time trying to get the animal back from him. Again, training is all about teaching your dog what you want him to do instead of reacting to his best guess in the situation.
Overall, animals repeat behaviors which get them what they want. Reward your dog for making good decisions. Make sure to use rewards he actually deems worth working for. Prevent your dog from learning undesirable behaviors in the first place by using a crate or leash. Know which behaviors you want him to do before you get out there in the field.