June 08, 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.
As an avid reader, I was happy to get the recommendations. My brother, who introduced me to field trials and hunting dogs when I was a kid, thinks that Training Your Retriever by the late James Lamb Free is still the classic work in the field. Free’s book is certainly old school. He suggests not starting your pup on training until she is 1 year old (the only notion even my brother disagrees with), and scoffs at the idea of a dog living anywhere but 4-foot-by-23-foot kennel. Seems most trainers either love or hate Mr. Free’s book.
A fellow outdoor writer swears by The 10-Minute Retreiver by John and Amy Dahl. It’s a very good book, and I’ve found it helpful. But if you think you’re looking to get away with only 10 minutes a day in this game, you might need to buy yourself a cat.
A few friends claimed the only book to read was Water Dog by the late Richard Wolters. It’s another older book with some very solid info. Wolters quickly debunks the myth that a dog owner should wait a year before training a pup. (He insists on starting at 7 weeks.) I found the book a touch preachy in parts, but there’s no question Wolters was a maestro when it came to dog training.
My favorite, however, is a book that’s as much a pleasure to read on a cold night by the fire as it is informative—Hey Pup, Fetch It Up by the late Bill Tarrant. As the Field & Stream gun dog columnist for many years, Tarrant entertained and taught millions of dog owners. His book, while sometimes rambling, always comes back to one main point: You have to love the dog…and think like a dog to get her to do what you want.
Anyone have a favorite from the above list? Or know of one I left out? Let’s hear it.