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Off Season!

March 28, 2001

 This is the time of year when we all start to relax.  If you have a good companion gun dog, you’re not worried about next season…Hold on!  It’s a good time review what happened this past season and plan for next season.

There’s a lot you can do that you may not know about which just might enhance next season afield.  Here’s one example:

Have you and your gun dog ever been through a formal yard working instruction program?  Do you have a Brittany that “Just does it all” without training?  A lot of us tend to err on the side of not pursuing formal training unless the dog is unruly and won’t hunt properly.  Actually, yard work is the foundation for any good companion gun dog.

What is Yard Work training and why would my dog that “does it all” need it?  Here’s why:  Think of yard work training as the obedience class for bird dogs.  It’s where the foundation commands are taught that you will later build upon in the field.

Simple commands such as ‘whoa’, ‘heel’, ‘come’, ‘hup’, ‘kennel-up’, retrieving commands and more are taught. 

Do the following scenarios sound familiar?

Ever been in the field where you or your buddies’ dog doesn’t know ‘whoa’ and it runs in and busts a covey that another dog was pointing?    Teach this dog whoa.

Ever wished that your dog would just stay along side you when you decide to quit hunting instead of it continuing to run ahead and hunt even though you’ve quit for the day?  Teach heel.

Ever had a really excited dog be let out of the box at the beginning of the hunt and have to wait 30 minutes for the dog to run itself to the point of exhaustion before it would settle down and hunt for it’s master?  Teach ‘hup’, come, and heel to this dog.  By the way, this problem is common!

Do you hate having to chase your dog around to get it to load up into its crate when you return to the truck?  Teach this dog kennel-up and to come.

Does your dog not bring birds all the way to you?  Teach retrieving.

Does your dog creep and occasionally bust birds?  Teach this dog that whoa means whoa!

Do you have to hunt your dog with an electric collar every single time you put him/her on the ground to hunt to ‘enforce’ commands?  Teach yard work with lots of repetition and rewards so that the dog wants to please you.

These are the ‘little’ problems that we overlook when you have a really good dog.  Unfortunately, these ‘little’ problems are embarrassing and frustrating.

O.K., so you think it’s a little early to worry about this ‘minor discrepancies’.  It’s not.  You should spend 5 or 10 minutes a day with your companion gun dog reviewing the most basic of yard work commands. 

You can make time, even if you don’t think about it until bedtime.  Simply call your companion over to you, if he/she doesn’t come, that’s the command you need to start on!  An ordinary 6 feet long leash and 5 minutes in the house working on ‘come’ can work wonders weeks later when trying to get your dog to come to you with the bird…

Thanks for visiting us.  Have a great off-season!

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