Anyone who has watched a hunter and his dog can sense the deep bond between them. The hunting dog responds to every command with speed and precision. It takes time and patience to reach this level, but the result is well worth the effort.
Types of Retrievers: Breeds such as Labrador retrievers and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retrievers are excellent gun dogs having been bred over hundreds of years for just that purpose. However, despite centuries of breeding, dogs can still be willful.
Basic Commands: Commands such as Whoa, No, Kennel, Sit and Come are vital. Your dog must know and obey all of these commands before you take him out to the field. If your dog won’t obey you when he’s on a leash he certainly won’t obey when he has the freedom to run at will. Your dog should be taught in a realistic situation in the field and not at home.
Transition To The Field: When your dog becomes skilled with those particular orders, and you have taught him not to be afraid of the noise that a gun makes, then you can begin training in the field. Begin with dummy training. Your dog must learn that he is meant to retrieve, and dummy training is the best method for teaching this.
Dummy Training: Pick a dummy that suits your dog. Some resemble game birds, others are plastic and some are fabric. Once your dog learns to retrieve the dummy and bring it back without shaking or destroying it in any way, you can begin to train with real birds.
Sometimes the dog won’t touch the real bird at first, and you will have to go back to the dummy adding feathers and streamers onto it to resemble the game bird you will be hunting.The streamers mimic movement of a bird when it isn’t quite dead so that the real thing won’t scare your dog off.
Decoys: Transition to the real bird slowly if your dog shows fear the first time he is asked to retrieve it. You can even get a stuffed duck or pheasant from a taxidermist and use it as a decoy dummy.
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