Hunting Dog Training: First Steps for Turning Your Puppy into a Hunting Partner

News & Tips: Hunting Dog Training: First Steps for Turning Your Puppy into a Hunting Partner...

Puppies face a world of fun, excitement, intimidation and growth in the first few months of their lives.  Teaching your pup to avoid bad habits while instilling obedience basics will ensure your new hunting partner realizes his full potential.

Socialization: Play with your Pup

Play with your pup! The relationship you build will ensure hunting success for years to come.


Forming a relationship with your puppy is important.  A dog’s drive to please its owner can be more powerful than any other form of reward or punishment. It’s also critical to ensure your pup will get along well with other hunters, people, and pets.

Socializing your puppy began the minute you met. Most people have no trouble with this phase of training. Puppies are simply fun to play with! Make sure you buy your dog some toys, as he needs to learn that he has things of his own. Using mom’s kitchen towels can form bad habits and will get you both in trouble.

Once the initial socialization with your puppy has subsided, it is time to mortar the building blocks together with expanded socialization. Introducing your young puppy to other dogs is essential.

It is best to introduce your puppy to dogs you own or know. Keep control at all times so that your puppy isn’t roughed up. Playing with other dogs and family members is important for your puppy and more exposure is better. Make short trips to parks or other open areas to allow your puppy room to explore.

Invest in a Quality Carrying Crate  

A carrying crate is a huge asset for your puppy’s training. Introduce him to it on the first day. Early crate training is essential to the successful travel for years to come. Take short trips to places where puppy can have fun. Only hauling him in the crate to the vet will cause him to avoid it entirely. He will soon get used to his crate and enjoy it.

Make sure you select a crate according to your dog’s size. Some of my favorites are the Petmate Ruffmax Portable Kennels. Be sure to also pick up some beds and kennel jackets to keep your dog comfortable.

 Let Them Run

The countryside and hunting grounds can be scary for a young puppy. You are eventually going to do serious training and hunting in such areas. Let your pup get used to the areas slowly. Allow him to run free to explore and discover meadow larks, terrain features, and game birds. Lengthen these sessions as your puppy gains confidence. The fun enhances his predatory instincts, builds confidence and contributes to body strength.

Every hunting dog will come across water at some point. Purposely introducing your puppy to water, especially waterfowl breeds, will pay big dividends later.

Keep track of your puppy. He could easily become lost or get into trouble. These sessions are a good time to introduce locator collars. Eventually you will need to use a check cord during these jaunts in the field, too.


Keep Commands Basic

Many puppy owners want to begin giving multiple commands immediately. It will only confuse the puppy. Incorporate commands into other training events. Begin with the simple stuff like sit, heel and no.

 Dog Training 2
As your dog grows you will want to begin introducing training dummies, locator collars, and an assortment of other gear.


Introduce the First Bird

Begin this exercise in an area away from distractions. Use a cold, dead pigeon for the first lesson. The dead bird will not flop around and scare the puppy. Allow him to hold it, but do not let him shake or bite it. Calmly stop him if he starts those behaviors. Allowing bad behavior to continue will result in hardmouth and roughly handled game.

As training advances, you will want to invest in dummies, training wings, check cords, whistles, and an assortment of other dog training supplies.

Plan and Critique Your Training Regimens

A hunting puppy is a work in progress. Have a plan each time you make a short trip or begin a training session. Make notes of your puppy’s successes and failures. Remember that each is a reflection of the owner’s abilities to train. If frustration sets in, seek help from a professional trainer. Otherwise, study your notes at the end of the day and make necessary changes in your training agenda.

Training a hunting dog should be fun process for both puppy and owner. Relax, be consistent, and speak softly. Years of fun are in your future.