Chapter 1 – The Introduction
The world of hunting has definitely evolved by leaps and bounds over the years, but the one thing that has stayed consistent is the bond between a hunter and his or her hunting dog. Through this series of articles and videos I’m going to attempt to help you, the reader, develop a stronger bond with your hunting companion.
I have grown up around black labs. We’ve had one as a family pet for as long as I can remember. None of those dogs were ever used as hunting dogs and I, by no means, claim to be a professional dog trainer. Training dogs is something that I have really started to enjoy as I’ve become more involved in hunting. About fifteen years ago I really got into whitetail hunting, but about five years ago I branched out and became passionate about waterfowl hunting. This switch in focus was when my interest for dog training really began.
Two years ago I decided to buy my girlfriend a black lab as a Christmas present. We named her Shadow. As fate would have it girlfriends come and go, but Shadow remains my hunting dog.
People say that I am a pretty competitive person and I would have to agree with them. I was fortunate enough to play two (football and lacrosse) varsity level college sports. While I am not a professional dog trainer my “day job” really has helped me with my new found hobby. I’m a college lacrosse coach by trade. Prior to becoming a college coach, I was a special education teacher and a strength and conditioning coach for elite level athletes. Aiding in the development and growth of others is something I have always been interested in.
I had a mentor tell me once that “if you fall in love with what you are doing you are going to do it more often. If you do it more often you are going to get better at it. Learn to love the process. Embrace the process.”
Not only has my background in coaching allowed me to see success in dog training, but the knowledge I have gained from dog training has helped me grow as a coach! I have fallen in love with the process of dog training.
A major part of my coaching, teaching and training philosophy is that great players, students, athletes and dogs are not simply born…they are made! Gaining the knowledge needed to train can sometimes be difficult to acquire due to the lack of time, resources and experience.
As I said before I am very competitive. When I do something I want to be good at it. So prior to getting Shadow I started doing some in-depth research on dogs and training. I read books, magazine articles and watched videos from some of the very best. Guys like Tom Dokken and Kevin McLaren (owner of Morning Sun Retrievers), who I was very fortunate to work with, really helped me gain confidence. Right before I got Shadow I reached out to Webb Footed Kennel. I will never forget when Chris Akin called me directly. In my opinion he’s the Bill Belichick of Dog Trainers! His passion and excitement about dog training only helped my motivation.
Like most people I had limited time, experience and resources. That said I have already taken the time and done the research in hopes of sharing that knowledge with you. I will hopefully condense that knowledge so that you can quickly get right to training your gun dog.
Through these articles and short videos, we are going to start from the very beginning…from the first time you visit the kennel, selecting the right puppy, basic obedience, introducing birds and all the way to the first hunt. I am going to share my knowledge in hopes that it will help you gain a strong understanding without being overwhelmed.
I consider myself to be very lucky to be a part of the Chasin’ Whitetails Media team. Having the opportunity to be involved with the Life Afowl series only fuels my passion for spreading information on dog training. Hopefully you enjoy reading about my experiences with Shadow and you’re able to pick up some information from this, as well as, all of the series’ on the Chasin’ Whitetails website.
Until next time… “Keep the retrieve alive!”