dog training

Your pups first dove hunt and what to expect

With opening day of dove season this weekend there will be a lot of new pups going on their first hunt. I personally have a love/hate relationship with dove hunting because you can really screw up a dog on their first hunt if you don’t do things right. Plus, if there are no birds flying and it’s 100 degrees out it can be pretty miserable for both you and the dog.

The number one rule I always have when taking a dog on their first hunt is to remember to HAVE FUN! This is most likely going to blow their mind if there are a lot of birds flying so I always tell their owners if you are going to take your dog, prepare to not shoot for the first half of the hunt so you can focus on your dog. I would retrieve the first dove myself, bring it back and toss it right in front of the dog so we have a really close retrieve, then I will let him retrieve a close shot bird next, and once we have that under control I am going to start letting them jump into the game and start retrieving the doves.

I never expect the dog to be 100% perfect and I don’t get on to them constantly during their first hunt because I could take their drive and love away really quick because they could easily associate hunting with discipline. We want to make them love the game first then slowly add rules. I have talked about this concept before in a previous post when talking about teaching a dog to retrieve. We do the same things when teaching a child to play baseball. We start with T-ball and slowly add rules to the game. I still expect my dogs to behave while we are hunting but I’m not looking for perfect retrieves or handling. I do expect the dog to sit calmly and quietly beside me. If i have dog that is whining their head off and not calming down then we are going to go back to the truck. I am not going to reward the dog for whining by letting them retrieve a bird.

Beware that some dogs are just NOT dove dogs and never will be. I have one dog that just can’t handle a dove in his mouth no matter what you do. I have tried every method you can think of from old school to new methods and he just can’t do it. Remember a dove is essentially a dog holding the freshest best treat in the world in their mouth so for a dog to not just swallow a dove takes some training.

I always take a bumper just in case there are no birds flying because you don’t want to make them sit outside all afternoon in this heat and not be rewarded for good behavior (sitting calmly). I have also resorted to shooting crows so they could have something to retrieve but I have only had one dog interested in retrieving crows. The rest want nothing to do with them (I can’t blame them).

Another thing to remember-and I can’t stress this enough- BE CAREFUL and watch your dog close. They can overheat QUICK in this heat. If you suspect your dog is overheated, never throw them into a pond or body of water as this can trap the heat in and not cool them off. The thing you want to do is put ice on their belly, in between their toes, on the tips of their ears, and get them in your truck with some air conditioning or in the shade. You want to put ice where their skin is so you can cool them off quicker. I have only had to do this to a dog one time when they were suspected to be overheating after a long run in a hunt test. I am extremely cautious when it comes to the heat and I don’t mess around. I only dove hunt in the evenings if I am going to take a dog I always sit in the shade.

My next blog post will be about what I never leave home without when traveling or hunting with a dog. Stay tuned and happy hunting!!!

Welcoming a New Puppy- Part 2

This week we will talk more about introducing your puppy to walking on a lead and retrieving.

The first time you put a lead on your puppy be prepared for the puppy to fight, scream, and not want to move. However, if you follow the next few steps it should be smooth sailing. I start teaching pups how to walk on a lead when they are 5-6 weeks old. Yes, you read that correctly and yes it is possible. I begin by taking short, short walks around the room-not a mile long hike. I pick their feeding time to introduce walking on a lead (typically the lunch time feeding). I start by having them on my left side. It’s important to pick one side and stick to it. I use my left because I shoot on my right side. Let them smell the food, then call them to you while taking one or two steps forward. This part needs to be fun! Try saying “here puppy puppy puppy” in a baby voice. Once they have a taken a couple of steps, tell them sit while gently holding the food to their mouth and pushing back so it causes them to sit down. If I have time I will do the full feeding this way or if I don’t have much time I will do a few handfuls then make them sit down for the rest of the food. Remember to take it slow and don’t get frustrated. They are learning!

How to teach your puppy to retrieve:

Teaching a 4 week old puppy how to retrieve has to be one of my favorite things to do! Even if you don’t have a lab you can still use these methods to teach any breed how to retrieve. I have taught many different breeds to retrieve ranging from schnoodles to dobermans.

First and foremost I NEVER leave a puppy unattended with a toy because this is a choking hazard and it teaches them to chew on things when they are bored. I want toys to have rules and be super special for the dog. As I said last week, dogs are extremely smart but not smart enough to know the difference between their toy and your shoes, baseboards, etc. When starting out with a puppy I use a small squeaky ball in a small room with zero distractions. We start extremely close and slowly increase the distance. I will toss the ball right in front of them and tell them to “fetch up” once they have the ball in their mouth. Then I am praising them (petting their head) while my hand is on the ball, then say drop and throw the ball a few inches in front of their face. The number one thing when teaching a pup to retrieve is to ALWAYS praise them before taking away the ball. Imagine if I brought you something and you just ripped it out of my hand and walked away 😳. Pretty sure I’m not going to bring anything else to you. We have to let the dog know that by him going and getting the ball, he did exactly what I wanted and he did a great job! I may only get 1-2 retrieves the first time and that’s ok!! Take away the ball when the dog is still having fun so the next time you get it out they are super excited!!! If your dog is doing AWESOME retrieveing do NOT start adding a bunch of rules too soon as this will cause LOTS of problems in the long run. I get calls weekly about owners telling me how good their dog does retrieveing but has lost interest and this is most likely to the owner turning into a drill Sargent without even realizing it. The main objective when first teaching a puppy or dog to retrieve is to MAKE IT FUN!!!! I do not add any rules in the beginning other than they have to go get it then bring it back. Once they are doing this great for a couple weeks and retrieving at least 10 times perfectly, meaning they go get it, come right back, and they are NOT dropping the ball at my feet, then I will add on a rule or two. Think about teaching a kid how to play baseball. We don’t start with the major leagues, we start with T-ball then slowly add rules as they mature.

Teaching a dog any type of skill should be taught SLOW and always remember to take BABY STEPS. Don’t get into a big hurry!!! We need to make sure each step is perfect before we move onto the next step. We have to lay the foundation just like when building a house and then go from there, we don’t start on the second story and build our way down. Dog training should be fun not frustrating. Always shoot for having your dog a little better today then he was yesterday.

Welcoming a new puppy part 1

Congratulations on deciding to get a new puppy!!!! There are lots and lots of books, articles, videos, etc on what to do when getting a new puppy and that can be extremely overwhelming. I have put together a list of some tips on what to do when bringing home a new pup.

My number one rule when taking home a new pup is DO NOT take the puppy to places where lots of dogs are that you don’t know if the other dogs are vaccinated. If you need to take your pup to petsmart or the vet HOLD YOUR PUPPY and DO NOT let their feet touch the ground as this is where they could pick up something to make them sick.

Puppy tips:

-keep your pup on a schedule. We let the pups out every 2 hours starting at 6am-10:30pm.

-absolutely no food or water after 6pm as the more they drink during the evening the more they have to pee during the night.

-our pups sleep through the night which shocks most people but we don’t let them eat or drink after 6 and we don’t let them sleep from 6-10pm because just like a baby the more they sleep during the evening the more they will wake up during the night.

-your pup needs to be in a crate when you can’t supervise them. If you aren’t watching them then they are most likely doing something they shouldn’t be and you aren’t there to correct them. All of our pups are crate trained by the time they leave us and LOVE their crates. We want dogs to view their crate as their “safe place”.

-when your pup wakes up, they need to go to the bathroom. Barking does not get them out of the crate for any reason. If one were to wake up at 3am barking then we know they need to go out but we never open it when they are barking. I would say “no” and if they didn’t bark for half a second I’m opening it and getting them outside quick. It is very easy for pups to become “untrained” and start having lots of accidents if you don’t keep up with their routine

-ABSOLUTELY NO CHEW TOYS IN CRATES. You are setting yourself up for a blockage or choking hazard. Think of your pup as a newborn. We don’t leave anything in a crib with a newborn so why do we think it’s ok to do with a new pup?

-don’t let your puppy bite or chew on you. People think this is cute at a young age but it sure as hell won’t be cute in a few months. By letting your puppy chew on your hand you are teaching them it’s ok to bite and chew on people. If you don’t want your dog to do it when it’s full grown, don’t encourage it when it’s a puppy.

-the earlier your pup knows what “no” means the better.

-we feed pups 3 times a day until they are 3 months old.

-I never leave food down for pups to graze because I’ll never know how much they are eating or when they aren’t feeling well.

-the amount of food you should feed them shouldn’t be a lot . Never follow what the bag says as their goal is to sell you more food. Food companies can give you a guideline but they don’t know your dogs metabolism, amount of activity, or environment it leaves in. If your pup is pooping all the time then that’s telling you, you are feeding them too much, so cut back a little.

Next week we will cover more on pups -introducing to walking on lead, retrieveing, and using feeding times as training times.

Have a suggestion for a blog you would like to see??? Email me and Ill see if I can make it happen ☺️

Why dog toys are a huge NO for me

This will definitely catch your attention but my dogs or any dog I train are not allowed to be left alone with toys. This is a huge NO for me. There are a few different reasons for this but the main one is I have seen too many customer dogs pass away from blockages from toys. My dogs and any dog I train are allowed to have a toy only when we are retrieving. I want the dogs to have rules with their toys just like any other game would have rules. I will give the dogs something to chew on a few times a week but ONLY when they are with me. If I were to leave the dog with the toy to chew on all day then essentially I am teaching the dog when they are bored to lay around and chew on things. Dogs are extremely smart but not smart enough to know the difference between your shoes, couch, baseboards, etc. from a toy. I always compare dogs to children and ask my customers if they would let their kids play video games all day long? Hopefully the answer to this question would be no. Dogs thrive on structure and rules just like humans.

Labs especially have a TERRIBLE name for being chewers and this is simply because they are taught to chew on things when they are bored. When my dogs are bored, they know to lay down and hang out. They know we will go play in a little bit but they don’t need to be doing something 24-7. It is human nature that tells us we need to occupy them all the time. Just like children, dogs need to learn to just sit still and be calm.

I often hear people telling me their dog was chewing on something so they gave them a toy to chew instead. Giving them a toy pretty much just rewarded your dog for chewing on something. I like to compare dogs to kids and this isn’t what we would do (hopefully) if we caught little Jimmy setting our house on fire. We wouldn’t give him a brand new Xbox because he was bored and wanted to play with fire would we?

I am not trying to scare you with this post but instead save dogs lives. Some of the best dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing have passed away to soon from a blockage that could of been prevented. Please be sure to supervise your dogs when giving them toys.