Bringing a New Gun Dog Home
Houser’s Quality Labs has two brand new additions this winter. This is a good opportunity to share some thoughts on bringing up a puppy (or two). First of all, these are just guidelines. I try to stick with them but if I see the pup is maturing and progressing rapidly, I may speed things up.
When I bring a pup home, I let them adjust to the new environment, but the training begins in the form of games. Find out what the pups natural abilities are and build on those. Don’t try and get into a battle with an 8 or 9 week old pup. Everything should be fun and games at this point.
For example, if your pup likes to chase things, build that drive. Get a toy and shake it around to get her excitement up and let her chase it. Let the pup be successful in getting the toy and let her carry it around. If she doesn’t come back right away that’s OK. One thing to remember, if it’s something to chase, don’t let ‘em chew on it. Side note, If you see the pup chewing on something you don’t want them chewing on (shoes furniture etc.), just take the object and replace it with a bone.
TRAIN THROUGH PLAY
Try and sneak in some training while you are playing, this will build a good “training attitude” for the pup. Work in some sit commands and get them going over obstacles and through tunnels. Put a decoy or two out and set up the dog blind while you are playing. They will quickly figure out the obstacles and decoys are irrelevant to what you are doing.
INTRODUCE THE REAL STUFF
I also like to introduce some of the real world things puppy will be seeing later in life. I let ‘em chase a clipped wing pigeon at 10-12 weeks old. I have a great spot on the side of the house where the pup can’t run away but has plenty of room to chase. I do this 2-3 days in a row as an introduction and they’ll see more birds when older.
If its warm out, I like to get the puppies in shallow water while they are still very young. I’ve had puppies swimming as early as 8 weeks old. Just make sure the water and climate is not too cold, they don’t have much of a coat to retain heat.
The old cap guns with the red ring caps are great to introduce gunfire. They are not very loud and you can do it in the backyard. Go out and play and have someone else shoot the cap gun from a distance. The idea is to have them focused on you and not worry about the shot.
One of the most important training tools for me is walks on a leash. This accomplishes several things at once and is a strong foundation for obedience. Everything you do is communicating something to her, remember that. Walks get the puppy out of the confines of the backyard, gets them exercise and easily builds on heeling and focusing on you with distractions. It’s a slow process and through repetition you will see a big difference.