In my previous articles about training your hunting pups from a young age, I outlined some basics in keeping your canine composed and disciplined in everyday life, but having them well trained when hunting is the prime directive. There are a variety of ways to train your dog when doing the hunt, but here are some key tips that may aid you in your purpose.
Because of their sensitive ears, getting your dog is respond to whistles is an easy part of training. And it is also important use different whistling tunes so you dog can recognize different commands. There is no right or wrong when using different whistling sounds, as long as your dog recongizes the appropriate responses in the end.
Here is a video demonstrating this:
You can begin by leading your dog along and blowing the whistle. They should immediately respond by sitting with no verbal command. To get your dog acclimated to the whistle, you can use a verbal command, followed by a hand gesture, and then blow the whistle.
Once you get the dog to start responding to whistles, they are ready to retrieve shot animals. For instance, once they have the animal, instead of blowing the whistle once, intersperse your whistling and squat while clapping your hands. If you want to stop your dog while it is running towards the animal, give one long blow. The dog should stop and look to you for instruction. Your pooch should respond to any verbal or hand gesture commands, such as locating another kill, or coming back to you.
You can train your dog for the actual retrieval by leaving a trail of animal blood with a treat at the end. This teaches your dog to use its nose, and the treat reinforces this behavior. Clap and encourage your dog to follow the trail, and have them bring a specific object back to you. Lengthen the trail for each training session. Playing fetch when playing is also a good way to get them accustomed to fetching dead prey.
Exposing your dog to certain climate conditions. If you live in an area prone to frigid weather, conduct training exercises in the cold. Have your dog join in on hunting parties with other dogs. When it comes to training with other dogs, the pack mentality will kick in, and they will mostly learn on their own, while still retaining the lessons they learned from you. Getting them used to cold weather will keep them in prime condition, and will help them build endurance when retrieving prey. Also, make sure they are accustomed to the noise of gunfire. If you have a backyard shooting range, fire the gun around your pooch to see how it will react, or bring them along on a hunting campaign. If they seem nervous from gunfire in any way, you'll have to go back and keep training with them.
There's so much more when it comes to training your dog, so stay tuned for additional articles and tidbits that can help you with the process.