As we approach the end of the Summer and the beginning of the Fall season, I want to spend a little time talking about general obedience. Obedience is a huge part of a hunting companion (rather than just a hunting dog). A well socialized and obedient dog will make the hunt more enjoyable as well as more successful. The primary reason for sharp obedience in the field is to keep our dogs safe!
For those with young Fall pups….
Remember that we want to build confidence (as discussed in the March Training Tip) but we cannot allow the dog to simply run wild. By teaching limited but consistent obedience to our pups, we begin to establish a desire to learn as well as a way to control the dog. I personally caution you to NOT over-do obedience with a young pup. Obedience should be taught as the pup matures and makes such obedience necessary. Once obedience work has been started, you will want to achieve a high standard and hold the pup to that standard. For those who have hunted their dog 1 season, now is the time to really work on pushing that obedience.
The convenience of an obedient companion extends well beyond keeping our dogs safe.
For those of us with more experienced dogs….
Aside from safety, sharp obedience has a practical use in the hunting field that goes beyond the testing requirements. I am sure that at some point last hunting season you can think of a time where you were frustrated by the dog’s behavior and that steals some enjoyment from the day.
You cannot slip in and jump shoot ducks if it takes 3 loud commands to have your dog sit and wait patiently as you prepare your final approach (and forget about it if they break and head for the ducks). Think about the times, after a long day of hunting, you hit the hard top road a couple miles from the truck, only to have the dog pull the leash all the way down the road. Or how about the time you were healing to the duck blind in the dark only to have the dog wander and wrap the leash around every little sapling as you approached your secret hide-away duck pond. Or maybe the 60 minutes of hunting you lost when the dog took off after a deer, and you couldn’t call them off. Or how about that close call in the cold water when the dog decided he no longer wanted to lay in the bottom of the canoe as you slipped into the edge of the marsh?
If you cannot recall a single time last season where obedience could have been better, than carry on … you are doing a great job.
For the rest of us, remember when it comes to obedience a dog will only be as good as the lowest standard you are willing to accept.
So set the bar high and maintain it year round!