Guest Blog Post by LWDG Group Expert Samantha Thorneycroft- Taylor
When we purchase, or rescue, a working gundog breed we have an obligation to train them to be the best that they can be at whatever their role is going to be, and the best way to do that is to make training fun.
We all know that dogs aren’t born trained, though there are often genetic and hereditary traits that can be found within a specific breed. Yet, somehow, almost everyone ends up experiencing frustration with their dog’s training at some point during the dog’s life.
Frustration that the puppy just chewed yet another slipper, frustration that the gundog-bred dog has gone self-employed in a forest and won’t recall, frustration that the livestock dog just caught and killed a neighbour’s chicken, the list of possible frustrations is endless…
Your Dogs Boundaries
Dogs need to be given clear boundaries from the start of your ownership, not by harsh methods or punishing corrections, but they do need to be taught the difference between right and wrong, and they need to be mentally stimulated and given a ‘job’ no matter how small or large that ‘job’ may be.
I think that many of us will have, at some point during our dog’s life, had that feeling of “Oh god, I need to take the dog out for a walk” and it’s at this point, when we are no longer enjoying our dog’s companionship, that we need to take the step to be proactive and to inject the fun and enthusiasm back into our combined lives.
It’s well known that dogs experience many different stages whilst growing from puppyhood, through adolescence and eventually maturing into adult life. We need to be there to support them, to encourage them, to nurture them, and also to keep them on the straight and narrow throughout all the different stages of development they go through.
Small Segments Of Training Can Keep Things Fun
Around 20-25 minutes is all you need to dedicate to a single training session and even this can be broken down into much smaller segments – if you take a proper look at your daily routine you’ll soon realise that you had a couple of minutes whilst the kettle boiled, or 15 minutes whilst dinner was in the oven, or 10 minutes before you were due to leave for work.
These are prime opportunities to do something, anything, with your dog to get those cogs ticking. You could work on your heel position in the kitchen or a short sit/stay or a send to bed for example. You could hide something in the garden and go hunt for it together, you could practice your recall, or do some retrieving – none of these examples takes more than just a few short minutes
It’s far more beneficial to your dogs health and well-being to have small bursts of mental stimulation with dedicated time and interaction from you, as their owner and caregiver, than it is for them to run for hours out of control and doing what they please!
So if you’re thinking “I don’t have enough time to both train and walk my dog” then think again – either go training instead or mix the two up and go for a training walk.
As humans, it’s easy to get ‘bogged down’ on one thing that is causing us difficulty and we either stick at it in the same way, over and over not making progress, or we avoid the issue altogether and hope the problem goes away. Neither of these routes is the answer.
If, for example, your delivery has gone to pot on retrieves then consider forgetting steadiness for a while and having some fun.
Play with your dog, run around with your dog, throw some unsteady retrieves and really encourage your dog to come right back to you – have them chase you with the item in their mouth if that is what it takes to get your dog back.
If you’re at loggerheads when it comes to loose lead walking and are fed up with the continual pull, stop, reset, pull, stop, reset ‘cycle’, INJECT some ENTHUSIASM! Take it up a pace, keep changing direction, stop, start, run, walk, left, right – make it fun, different, and exciting!
Take the pressure off yourselves; act like a child, forget the daily struggles, leave work at work, and go have fun with your dog! I can guarantee that you’ll both be far happier, and far more contented afterwards!
Samantha Thorneycroft-Taylor is an LWDG Group Expert, experienced dog trainer and Owner of Languedoc Gundogs
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