Chapter 3 – Building a Bond
As I mentioned in a previous article the foundation for your relationship with your future hunting dog starts the very first time that you pick up your puppy.
From that point on everything that you do with your puppy will become part of the training for your dog’s future behaviors. Making a concerted effort to build that bond early will allow, both you and your dog, to learn to trust one another. That level of trust will eventually lead to your dog becoming increasingly motivated to please you.
To be successful in the field you and your dog need to become teammates. And like any good team you are better off when you are working together. In order for your dog to choose to be on your team they must both trust and respect you. It is very important to realize that a dog’s brain is completely developed at sixteen weeks old. The first eight to ten weeks will afford you with the greatest opportunity to establish the groundwork for all your puppy’s training.
In my articles I will often refer to “pressure on, pressure off” training. This term describes a very simple idea. As we go through the training you will learn to use the “pressure on, pressure off” technique. This technique is used in conjunction with many training tools and multiple training scenarios.
Let me give you a couple quick examples…
When you pick up your puppy she will often start to struggle and want you to put her down. It is very important that you do not give in. You will apply gradual pressure until she submits and settles into being held. Once she settles down, and remains calm for approximately five seconds, you can put her down and offer her praise. She’s earned it. You will want to do this “pressure on, pressure off” drill multiple times throughout the day.
A great way to expand upon this “pressure on, pressure off” drill is pairing it with a quick check of your puppy’s eyes, ears, feet and mouth. It will be a huge future benefit if your puppy becomes use to you, or the veterinarian, examining and checking them over.
While you are holding your puppy take ahold of his paw and gently rub it. Spread his toes, inspect the webbing and run your thumb over his nails. If he tries to pull away simple apply some pressure (hug him a bit firmer) until he relaxes. Once he’s relaxed go back to rubbing his paw and continue this with each of the four paws.
It is important that your dog gets used to being examined. There will be many times in the field where you will need to look at his feet to check for cuts, stones, burrs or briars. This will also help you immensely when you start trimming his nails. Get your puppy used to the idea that you’re going to be a “hands on” owner.
Note: Remember that anytime you examine his feet you should also take a minute to look in both ears, open his mouth to check his gums / teeth and examine his eyes.
Another excellent bond building daily routine that you should be doing with your young pup is walking her off the lead. I cannot stress enough the importance of doing this in a safe and secure area! The walk does not have to last a very long time, nor does it need to cover a long distance. A 100 yard walk, repeated three times a day, would be an excellent start.
In a safe area grab your leash and your whistle (I will discuss these items later in my series) and just let your puppy be a puppy. As you take a nice leisurely stroll allow her to sniff around and to naturally follow after you. If she stops to investigate something just keep walking slowly ahead. Eventually she will find herself alone and come running after you. The second that you see her headed your way give her the “COME” command and blow three short tweets on your whistle.
Note: The voice command “COME” along with three short whistles will be used to command your pup to come This will be used early and throughout the training process
P.S. – Congratulations! You just taught your first command.
When your pup approaches you if she should happen to sit on her own recognize it and say “SIT” along with one short tweet of the whistle
Note: The voice command “SIT” along with one short whistle will be used to command your pup to come This will be used early and throughout the training process
When either one of these commands are performed successfully (even if its accidental) make sure that you give immediate and over exaggerated praise.
As I mentioned earlier the first few weeks are very important in the development of your future hunting dog. There are some very important “Do’s and Don’ts” that we will go over in a future article. That said here are a few key ideas to keep in mind until that article hits the website.
- Stay consistent with your daily routine and your expectations.
- Keep your training sessions short.
- Make training fun for your puppy.
- Use heavy handed discipline.
- Rush the training process. Sometimes you’ll have to go backwards to eventually move forward.
- Continue training if you become frustrated.
Hopefully you now have some information that will get you and your puppy headed in the right direction to forming a lifelong bond. Thank you for taking the time to check out this Bag’s and Shadow article here on the Chasin’ Whitetails Media series Life Afowl.
Good luck and have fun.
Until next time…”Keep the retrieve alive!”