Dog Gun Training
dog training

Dog Gun Training

Dog gun training involves training a dog to help sports people or hunters to retrieve prey. Usually birds are the prey that has to be retrieved by these dogs. Water dogs, as can be understood from their name itself, are dogs that are especially trained to retrieve birds from water.

Dog gun training aims at using an animal's inborn ability to point at an object. Such dogs usually point out their nose at the object and hold their bodies very still and rigid. Dogs can be trained to be good pointers. The first and foremost aspect of Dog gun training is absolute obedience. Holding a point till the hunter arrives to flush out a bird is the single most important requirement in a good gun dog.

The success of any Dog gun training depends on how quickly and how well and quickly it teaches the dog to respond to its master. Timing is everything. "Whoa", "Heel" and "Come" are the three most important commands for any successful Dog gun training. Simply put, "Whoa" tells the dog to stop what it is doing and be perfectly still. "Heel" tells the dog that it should walk beside you. "Come" of course directs the dog to come to you. These commands work together to instruct the dog when to stand still, when to walk with you and when to come back to you.

One useful accessory in Dog gun training is a dummy. It is not possible to get as many live targets as you would like for practice. For this purpose, many people make do with plastic dummies. This will be useful when you need to put the dog through the rigors time and again in order to reinforce what he has learnt.

One important aspect of Dog gun training is that it should aim at producing dogs that are "steady to wing and shot". Dogs that break their point when a shot is fired and chase the bird to the ground are not effective gun dogs. Once the dogs have learnt to "Whoa", "Heel" and "Come", they must now learn to retrieve the birds. If the bird is not to be seen at first, the dogs are instructed to search for the dead bird, using commands like "Dead Bird". The dogs will then break point and flush out the birds and bring them to the trainer. The dog has to be instructed to desist from playing with the dead bird, or running around with it. The good gun dog prefers his master's praises to the fun with a dead bird.

In case of water dogs, they will have to be good and keen swimmers to be able to dive into the water and retrieve the birds without dropping them. Dog gun training is a little different in case of water dogs, as these will have to learn to swim with the prey in its mouth.

Dog gun training can start as soon as a pup is weaned, when it is about 10-12 weeks old. A pup is encouraged to search his trainer's pockets for treats. In this way, he learns to use his nose to get things, and he gets rewarded for this. When the dog first catches a glimpse of his first caged bird, if he shows enthusiasm, he is said to be a "birdy". Dog gun training is usually done in groups. As real life situations will have groups of dogs in the same field, this will help the dog to get as close to the real life situation.

Another aspect of good Dog gun training is that each dog has to learn to accommodate other pointers. If a dog is already pointing to a dead bird, the second dog has to freeze and stay perfectly still. This is called "honoring" the first dog's point.

The first step in Dog gun training is to reward the dog whenever he does the right thing. Getting the dog to come to you whenever you call him is also a very important step. Patience is the only way to get your Dog gun training off the ground. Dogs will take some time to learn and imbibe the desirable behavioral patterns.

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