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Hunter's Park Top Gun Pointer Winner-12/13/2006
Harley Hunting
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Trouble With Training Your New Hunting Dog

My advice, now that we have learned from years of training and breeding, is that you should always focus on one dog. When we first made the decision to obtain a hunting dog it wasn't something we just jumped into. We took our time and chose the right breeder and the right puppy. The only problem was we couldn't decide between two pups. So after a few days of deliberation we decided to take them both. We thought it would be good for them to have a buddy around and someone for them to play with when we were gone. They both had wonderful qualities and an excellent pedigree. They were not from the same litter and that was also something we liked, knowing in the future it would lead to more breeding options. What I am about to explain are the reasons I don't think anyone should put themselves in this same situation.

We didn't look far enough ahead to realize that it was going to cause problems with our training. If we would have taken one pup to a trainer and kept the other at home training with us we may have been alright. We did not do that and instead thought we could do it all ourselves. Big mistake! Immediately we saw problems arising that were teaching the pups the exact opposite of what we wanted them to learn.

At the time we had a 1yr. old daughter, worked full-time, and had a 6 yr. old male chocolate lab (our future sire). It was busy around our house before we even had the puppies and we didn't realize how chaotic it would be for them in such a new environment. It was definitely a learning situation for us all.

They were being taught not only basic obedience but had to realize they had a name! At one point when we would say,"Tika" they would both respond and vice versa when we said, "Bailey." They were responding to both names and even when we separated them it stuck in their heads for quite awhile. We never thought that those few days of playing around in the house saying both names would register with them and cause us a headache later on in training. It took a lot of work to get them straightened out...including making sure that when we had one pup out training the other wasn't even in sight and could not hear any commands.

The other hard part of this situation was that my husband and I would work with them at different times. Sometimes it would be me in the morning and others it was with him, and in the evening we would have to take turns because of work. It confused the pups as to who they should be listening to and when. They started developing the habit of listening to us only when they felt like. It was never a set schedule as to who they were training with and that left them with the freedom to develop bad habits. Then after a week or two of this we sat down to discuss the situation and try to find an answer and realized that we had both been using different commands! So it was our own fault as to how hard it was for these girls to learn.

There were a lot of little things that happened when we first started out with these two that made it a difficult situation. We were new at this and so were the pups. We made mistakes and it affected everything they learned from us. It also carried on into other areas of training. We put a lot of time into training we thought was working and ended up having to start completely over. By doing that it made it extremely hard on us and even more confusing and stressful for the pup.

There are always going to be mistakes along the way but try to research what kind of training will work for you and your pup. Don't rush into matters like this thinking its simple and won't be much work. This is a lifelong relationship and you want it to be the best it can be. The dog is a very intelligent animal and will be your loyal, obedient companion if you just help them learn.

My advice, now that we have learned from years of training and breeding, is that you should always focus on one dog. Let them have their own bonding time with you and not have to compete for affection with another puppy. Make sure that your spouse and yourself use the same commands and keep to a strict schedule of training, eating, and play. If you want to have two pups of a similar age try to give it at least one month if not two before you purchase the second puppy. This way they have time to learn their own name, basic commands, and potty training before they have to be introduced to a new member of the crew. If you can keep your dogs learning at different levels of advancement then they can learn from each other as well.

-Kelly Olson