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  • June 29, 2009

    Have We Gone "Alpha" Overboard?

    By David DiBenedetto

    Everywhere you turn these days, some “celebrity” dog trainer is talking about being the leader of your pack—in other words, the alpha wolf. In fact, just yesterday I was reading an article about a trainer who insisted that you should refrain from acknowledging your dog when returning home from work. Here’s what she had to say ...

  • June 26, 2009

    Video: Training Tips from a Pro

    By David DiBenedetto

    While Pritch’s training is progressing nicely, I’ve noticed a bad habit starting to develop. During our sessions, Pritch will fetch a dummy, come running back, and then often blow right by me like I’m invisible. She usually gets about 10 yards past me before she starts frolicking. In these cases, I reel her in with the check cord but am unsure of the proper way to correct the problem. (To see an example just click on the video.) At its worst, Pritch will make a large half circle on her way back to me, sometimes dropping the dummy and not returning.

  • June 24, 2009

    Who's Your Daddy?

    By David DiBenedetto

  • June 22, 2009

    Some Dogs Are Just Nuts

    By David DiBenedetto

    As I start the long journey forward with Pritch I often find myself thinking about dogs past. There was Flapper, a mutt that truly defined the term "mash-up," but it was Salty Dog, a yellow Labrador with middling retriever skills, that provided the bulk of the memories—some of which are now legend in my family.

  • June 19, 2009

    That's My Dog!

    By David DiBenedetto

    You don’t have to be in the training game long to know that every day is a new one. Recently, we drove to my older brother’s house in rural South Carolina to train Pritchard. Our first mission would entail land retrieves in a big horse pasture. We set up so Pritch would have to cross a slight draw on her way to the dummy.

    I’ll be the first to admit, I was excited to show off my pup’s talents (and, of course, my training skills) to my brother, who swears that no breed can outdo a Labrador or Golden Retriever.

  • June 17, 2009

    Can You Clicker-Train a Gun Dog?

    By David DiBenedetto

    Before I brought Pritch home a few months ago I hardly knew anything about clicker training. As I’ve mentioned, I had been out of the game for some years and many of my early mentors were devoted to old-school training methods. So yesterday morning I watched with interest when clicker-guru Karen Pryor was introduced on “Good Morning America” to give a demonstration and shill for her new book, Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals.

  • June 15, 2009

    Video: Getting a Pup to Take the Plunge

    By David DiBenedetto

    Taking a pup for its first swim is one of my favorite moments of raising a water dog. I’ve been lucky that my pups showed nothing more than a mild hesitation when it came to the first dip, but that’s not always the case. A few readers of the blog have asked for the basics of teaching a dog to swim. As I’ve said before, I’m no pro but here’s what I’ve learned from the pros.

  • June 12, 2009

    Does Your Hunting Dog Fish?

    By David DiBenedetto

    I was a fisherman long before I became a hunter. And I still spend a large majority of my free time in a boat on the coastal waters. No surprise that when I was a kid my first pooch was a yellow Lab named Salty Dog. We spent our summers in a jonboat exploring the waterways around Savannah, Georgia. And that’s exactly what I want out of Pritchard. I want her to be as comfortable in a boat as she is in field.

  • June 10, 2009

    Dogs Find the Darndest Things

    By David DiBenedetto

    There’s dog news out of Europe this week that might even get David E. Petzal and the Gun Nut crew excited. According to various news reports, a woman walking her dog off a leash in Erkrath, Germany, was shocked to see the pooch come trotting back to her with a rusty hand grenade in its mouth. She immediately ordered the dog to drop it. (Talk about an explosive situation.) The dog followed orders, and the woman notified authorities. The grenade, identified as an American ordinance from World War II, was still live but was later defused by bomb experts.

    All of which makes for this week's Hump Day Discussion: What’s the strangest thing your dog has ever dragged home or dropped at your feet?

    Just yesterday while working Pritch in a grass lot

  • June 8, 2009

    Training By the Book

    By David DiBenedetto

    There are two things I’m certain of in life:

    1. Time and tide will wait for no man.

    2. Get a new hunting pup and everyone you know will recommend a must-read training book.

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