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Basic Commands for a Hunting Dog

These puppies are just starting their training to become good gun dogsWhen beginning training with your new hunting partner there are a few things to consider. I recommend getting them use to a collar and leash as soon as you bring them home. Training can begin as early as 8 weeks of age considering that is the general rule of thumb as to when they are taken off the mother. The collar and leash will be a valuable tool in some of the basic training and you don't want them to be distracted by this if it has not been introduced yet. Also, there is no harm in working on basic obedience and house training at the same time. I've had many people ask if trying to train for both simultaneously will confuse the pup or make training take longer. It does not, in fact I believe that it helps the pup advance into the next levels of training with ease.

Now, there are a few rules of thumb as to whether you are teaching basic obedience for a house dog or one that is going to be with you in the field. If it is to be a family pet only then some of the commands that are taught for hunting dogs will not need to be introduced. There are many basic obedience training videos that focus on just this but I would recommend reading the book "How to be the Leader of the Pack...and have your Dog Love you for it!" by Patricia B. McConnel Ph.D. You can easily find it on for less than four dollars!

On the other end of the spectrum your hunting dog can be taught commands that he/she will use for manners in the house as well as in the field. When a dog is brought into a home with the intention of never being a hunting dog it probably does not need to know commands such as "bird", "hunt", etc. You most definitely want your hunting dog knowing these easy commands as well as the basic "name", "sit", "heal", "here", "down", "kennel", and "quiet". Eventually, they will also be introduced to the whistle and this should become their main focus as far as commands.

To get started work on the very basics that I mentioned like sit, here/heal, and get the pup use to it's name as quickly as possible. For a hunting dog this will be its release command to retrieve a bird and it's the most important command to teach first. Constantly repeat the pups name over and over until it comes to that realization "oh, that's me!" When working on the other commands of course you cannot just keep repeating the word and never teach the dog the action that it's suppose to connect with it. If you want them to learn "sit" then physically put your hand on their rump and push them down into sitting position while repeating the command. You will be surprised how easily and quickly most dogs will pick up on this!

When you first bring your puppy home and want to get started there is one amazing training video that I would recommend. It has been very well received by many trainers and hunt test participants. Look for "Duck Dog Basics" with Chris Akin. It is a wonderfully put together training resource that starts with the basics and goes all the way to teaching blind retrieves and more! We have blended our techniques with some of the teachings in this video and it has worked wonders on our training program!

Kelly Olson
Professional Gun Dog Breeder


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