At the recent Bird Dog Days event Ed Rader gave some valuable tips on basic gundog training your pup. Ed talked about how dogs are pack animals, and pack animals will respect and obey the leader of the pack. He gave plenty of tips on training with close, hands-on methods using association and repetition. While his training tips are very useful for gun dog training, many of these methods work just fine when training the family dog. Ed says that establishing you as the pack leader are the very basics of where good training begins. If your dog doesn't respect you as the leader he will not perform for you.
It all begins with establishing eye contact with your puppy, and frequent touching. This is the beginning of the trust relationship with your dog because it gets the puppy used to human touch. And when moving into training new puppies a good starting point is to teach these 3 actions: (1) Enter kennel on command, (2) stand still or whoa, and (3) come to you. These are three commands that many future commands are built upon.
Slip leads help establish a proper point of contact and control, further reinforcing come, whoa and heel. These leads help control your dog by controlling the head with nerve tension, not force, whereas collars and harnesses do not provide this same control because they do not control the dog's head, and controlling the head is the key to controlling the dog. The Wonder Lead is popular because its rigid, sensitive design helps the lead contact the proper areas on the dog's head and it releases pressure on the dog when you release your tension on the lead. Watch Ed's demonstration on the Wonder Lead, shown below; you'll be amazed at how well it improves your ability to control the dog over typical dog collars and harnesses.
Another reliable training method is the saw horse, training table or barrel. This method will teach the pup to focus, stand still and develop trust in its owner. Begin practicing this at 30 second to 1 minute intervals in the beginning. And when using this method it is important to make eye contact and touch the dog to further encourage trust development.
Ed also recommends tie-out chains for training your new puppy. Tie-out chains are the best piece of training equipment you have to teach pups to give in without you becoming the bad guy. Tie-out chains allow you to discourage jumping, and it holds the dog in a convenient place where you can observe its behavior while working with other pups and dogs.
These are just a few of the training fundamentals recommended during Ed's Bird Dog Days seminar. When the pups are a bit older you can begin collar conditioning, steady to wing, and honoring, but those are topics for another blog post.
What training methods have you successfully used for your puppy? We look forward to your comments below.
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