Flexible Programs – Flexible Entry Points
My belief is to train the dog what its purpose and function is as a hunting dog and to teach the owner how to handle the dog to maximize the dog’s potential.
Training is customized to the wants and needs of the owner. Each hunter has an idea of what they want from their dog, whether it’s…
- Walking in at heel on a quail hunt in Texas while pointers are secure on quail, then releasing the lab to flush and retrieve quail
- Wanting the dog to hunt cattail sloughs for pheasants in South Dakota
- Staying on point in the grass fields of Montana
- Doing a non-slip duck retrieve on a pond in California
Dogs are trained to be able to perform to the expectations of the owner. Programs vary in length, averaging about 2 months. Programs have been designed for 4 weeks to 6 months, and at times, longer.
When to Train
There is no steadfast age for when a dog is ready to be trained. Different training can be done at different ages: obedience can begin earlier than field work; basic field work can begin earlier than blind retrieves.
I believe the three factors listed below are helpful to determine when it is the right time to train your dog for what you want it to be. Training of any dog is unpredictable until here with us at the kennel. However, to give you, the owner, an idea of when your dog is ready – and making your dog the most successful – weighing these three factors reduces the frustrations of the dog, the owner, and the trainer.
- Maturity: In general, most dogs are ready for obedience work and light field or water work at six months of age. At nine months of age, dogs are ready for training which is at a level for started dogs. By twelve months, dogs are ready to begin more finished type training. I currently am training an eleven month old dog that is not ready to do six month old obedience work. What is the maturity level of the dog?
- Birdiness/Gaminess: Birdiness is the instincts within the dog that drives it to pursue and want the birds. Gaminess, I believe, is the dog’s passion and desire for hunting. Are these natural instincts of the dog strong enough to do serious work?
- Started vs. Finished Hunting Dog: As explained above in the Maturity section, dogs accomplish different tasks at different age levels. Depending on whether the owner wants a started or finished dog will determine the appropriate time to begin training. What are the expectations of the owner?