Simcoe just turned 20 weeks old and working with him over the past few months has been a very gratifying experience. Since he came to live with us in December I've witnessed him change from a highly energetic puppy just romping around the house into the start of a promising upland bird dog. This is very gratifying to me because he's my first bird dog and he is actually learning through my first-time approach to dog training, so I must be doing some of this dog training the right way. There is some real potential for my young Brittany puppy.
Basic Obedience Training
Simcoe's obedience training began soon after he came home with us at eight weeks old. We gave him a day or two to adjust to his surroundings and his new Staffordshire terrier sister, but once he showed signs of adjustment I began training him in the basic commands of recall and kennel.
Simcoe picked up the come command quickly with the rewarding treat, so I soon began training him on the command in the outdoors, with and without the rewarding treat. Recently I introduced the whistle recall command which he has responded to very well. Overall he is progressing with the recall command very well.
The kennel command has been a bit slower coming because he's figured out the kennel means he may be alone for a few hours, although he's fine with kenneling in the car and when the lights go out for the night. Kennel is one command we will be working on for a while because he just doesn't like being isolated from people.
When it was time to move on to other obedience commands I decided not to teach Simcoe the sit command until he had a firm grasp of the whoa command. I'm doing this to reduce the possibility of Simcoe sitting on whoa. I also decided to use the verbal command "tand? rather than the actual verbal command "hoa?. Simcoe quickly got a grasp on the concept but we have much more work to do with this command. This weekendI'll introduce him to the whoa bench that Ed Rader taught me last September at Bird Dog Days.
"Back up? is a command that Simcoe picked up in no time. It's a very useful command when I'm walking through the door with an arm full of groceries and two hungry dogs jumping at my feet. I'm sure this command will be valuable in the field. Also Simcoe has grown to 25 lbs and is much stronger than I expected for a puppy this size, and lately he's been challenging me with a game of tug-of-war on the lead when he wants to go one way and I the other, so we recently began heel training.
Fetch and Retrieve
As for fetch and retrieve, we frequently do fetch games, but unless we are using his favorite squeaky ball or stick, Simcoe quickly gets bored with this exercise. He also likes playing the keep away game from other dogs, and I've noticed that lately he expects to play the same game with me. I'm told that Brittany Spaniels are quick learners and therefore become bored easily and that I need to make fetch more interesting for him.
Next on Simcoe's Training Agenda
Simcoe has also been introduced to a scented quail wing on a string. He pointed to the wing, and once pointed at my fishing rod that had some remnants of quail scent from my hands, but I didn't overdo it with this exercise. This month he'll be introduced to live birds for the first time and introduced to gunfire soon after.
This is my first time training a bird dog and I think that Simcoe's training is moving along fairly well. I've had a lot of advice to stick to a training schedule, and introduce certain commands and exercises by a certain puppy age; however, we are moving at our own pace like many experienced trainers recommend.
Check back for my next Simcoe update and read about how Simcoe reacts to his live bird and gunfire experience.
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