Professional gun dog training takes time and patience. It also takes commit to a proven program, consistent handling, and a dog with a love of the game. Only when a dog masters one stage is it appropriate to move on and increase the difficulty, physical conditioning and command structure. So, what are the three stages of gun dog training and how do they benefit dog and hunter?
- Rookie training.This is the introductory stage for the dog that has had little or no exposure to any prior gun dog training. Puppies should be at least 16 weeks old before being enrolled in this stage. The dog learns to point and chase. They are exposed to birds, guns and hunting grounds. Rookie training is all about establishing a good foundation. Prey drive and basic field commands (here) are the primary focus. The training program at Valhalla is all about developing a confident dog but don’t expect a tremendous amount of discipline in this stage.
- Seasoned training.Once your dog behaves with confidence in the field and has mastered the basic command, it is time to move up to the second training stage. Terming it the seasoned stage, this level is open to dogs that are at least six months of age. At this level, there is more differentiating between the training received by pointing and flushing dogs. Pointing dogs learn the “whoa” command while flushing dogs train to sit by whistle command. Dogs must learn to control their impulses to chase game birds by pointing without engaging and by letting other dogs take the lead when instructed. The rate at which dogs complete this stage varies. On average this is a 6-8 week program that we recommend be completed 100% and not broken into multiple visits. This is also the stage in training where you will see a more disciplined dog that is ready to go to the field.
- Trained Retrieve.This intense 8-10 week program is the finishing touch for any bird dog. There is a misconception that just because the dog likes fetching this program isn’t necessary. The truth is, this program is all about the respect of the command and respect of the handler and fetching is just the by product. Our Valhalla guarantee is that every dog leaves the program happy and with their tail wagging. Jeff compares a dog that has gone through this program to driving a car with power steering. Sure, you can drive a car without but it’s no fun.
Contact us today for more information on the importance of the three-staged training approach. Moreover, find out what a dog with professional gun dog training under its belt will offer to you, the hunter, while in the field.