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Ever Hit the Dog-Training Wall?

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November 10, 2009

Ever Hit the Dog-Training Wall?

By David DiBenedetto

I like to think I’m as passionate about dog training as any other DIY guy out there. Heck, my wife thinks I’m half nuts because on most nights I’m up late reading—rather re-reading—gun dog books. And in the morning I’m up at sunrise to go train before work. When I'm asleep I usually have nightmares about Pritch running wild in a dove field or eating our ducks one after the other. But this morning I hit the wall.

When the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. for our daily training session I rolled over, mashed the snooze button, and then repeated. Don’t get me wrong: Pritch and I have plenty to work on, but maybe that’s my problem. I’m in a race against the fast-approaching duck season, and I think I’ve lost sight of the smaller steps that make a gun dog great.

Someone told me long ago this training game is a journey not a race, and they were right.

So when I woke up I walked downstairs and made a list. On it I wrote down everything Pritch has learned in the last 10 months (starting with house breaking, Sit, Stay, Here, and so on), what she does well, and what we need to work on.

On the list I also made a To Do section with a few chores. One of them included joining the local retriever club. (Because knowing a training buddy is waiting for you in the field will surely help motivate you on those days when you’d rather pour yourself an after-work drink.) The other was to make an appointment to see a pro for a couple of hours.

The list made me realize a few things. We’ve come a long way—miles and miles actually. And I need to take training one step at a time. Most of all, looking at the list made me appreciate the fact that I have a damn fine dog.

We’ll be at it again this afternoon. Full-steam ahead.

You ever hit the dog-training wall? Got a few tricks to keep the motivation high? Have a training goal you’ve set for you and your dog this fall? Let’s hear it.

Comments (11)

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from uplander12 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Training goal #1: have fun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

uplander12, Amen. -Dave

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

it's easy to lose perspective about progress with our pups—because we're so focused on how far we have to go. when i hit the wall it definitely helps to slow down and consider how far we've come. then, i simply ask myself: what do we need to do to get us one-step closer to succeeding this season? if it's mastering Heel, we focus on that for a week. usually, honing in on that one small thing leads to big things in terms of overall progress.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jersey pig wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

no matter if it's a good day or bad day for me or the dog, it still better than working. besides, i get to spend time with one of best buddies, my dog.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from redhuntingpoodles wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

My husband often says his job is getting in the way of his dog training! LOL
Our goal this fall is to get our 3 girls through double T and introduce new drills!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I just can't seem to train my pugs in the limited amount of time I have each day,but I kept my goal of teaching them to finally learn to sit.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from gogusties wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

We have a pug too. That dog is so hard to train. I don't get up at 6 am but this blog post has certainly got me thinking I should.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Although my training and bird hunting has slowed down to fill archery tags here in New York it never stops.One lesson always leads to another to further the dog and revisit past lessons to help retain memory.I have a lot more work to do in blind retrieve areas for duck hunting for next season and yes I did fill archery tags.Magnum is becoming more solid in all areas.I wont hunt him after the 21st rifle will be open all over the state(safety first) but when it closes I hope to get some more ruffed grouse and rabbit/hare hunting in.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm an absolute zero when it comes to dog training. I bought some basic puppy training book when my yellow lab Chester was a tiny pup and crate broke him, house broke him, trained him to sit and fetch, and gun broke him. When he was old enough to hunt dove and ducks, his abilities were uncanny. I had nothing to do with that, but he has made me look like a pro in front of my birdhunting buddies for years now. I love that dog. In fact, I have a notion to buy a puppy now that Chester's old, and have HIM train the little one...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I hunt with two female black labs - five and two years old. They were both early starters. The older one, Pearl, dragged in her first goose at four months exactly. The young dog, Opal, pointed, flushed, and retrieved a hun at three months and three days! However, part of the problem with dogs, rather pups, who start so early is to keep them from burning out. Of course, I was anxious to keep them progressing but needed to avoid pushing them at such a tender age. For me, I didn't really plan anything. Certainly didn't develop a schedule. I'd work with them on whatever issue happened to come up at any given moment in the field. And, yes, almost all their training was on the job. I found that some pups will work great retrieving a bird wing in the yard but not do so hot when the full monty falls out of the sky in the field. A dog may not break when you throw the dummy but runs into the decoys when the birds are landing. Most important, I think it is best to not let your expectations get too high when training your pup. Adjust your "schedule" of goals to the dog. Move as fast as it wants to go. Anyway, that's my philosphy.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Having been laidoff early in the year , Field Trials and live bird training came off the list. Fortunately the club membership was paid up early in the year. So it's all about having fun and getting one bird at a time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I hunt with two female black labs - five and two years old. They were both early starters. The older one, Pearl, dragged in her first goose at four months exactly. The young dog, Opal, pointed, flushed, and retrieved a hun at three months and three days! However, part of the problem with dogs, rather pups, who start so early is to keep them from burning out. Of course, I was anxious to keep them progressing but needed to avoid pushing them at such a tender age. For me, I didn't really plan anything. Certainly didn't develop a schedule. I'd work with them on whatever issue happened to come up at any given moment in the field. And, yes, almost all their training was on the job. I found that some pups will work great retrieving a bird wing in the yard but not do so hot when the full monty falls out of the sky in the field. A dog may not break when you throw the dummy but runs into the decoys when the birds are landing. Most important, I think it is best to not let your expectations get too high when training your pup. Adjust your "schedule" of goals to the dog. Move as fast as it wants to go. Anyway, that's my philosphy.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

it's easy to lose perspective about progress with our pups—because we're so focused on how far we have to go. when i hit the wall it definitely helps to slow down and consider how far we've come. then, i simply ask myself: what do we need to do to get us one-step closer to succeeding this season? if it's mastering Heel, we focus on that for a week. usually, honing in on that one small thing leads to big things in terms of overall progress.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I just can't seem to train my pugs in the limited amount of time I have each day,but I kept my goal of teaching them to finally learn to sit.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from uplander12 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Training goal #1: have fun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

uplander12, Amen. -Dave

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jersey pig wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

no matter if it's a good day or bad day for me or the dog, it still better than working. besides, i get to spend time with one of best buddies, my dog.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from redhuntingpoodles wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

My husband often says his job is getting in the way of his dog training! LOL
Our goal this fall is to get our 3 girls through double T and introduce new drills!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from gogusties wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

We have a pug too. That dog is so hard to train. I don't get up at 6 am but this blog post has certainly got me thinking I should.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Although my training and bird hunting has slowed down to fill archery tags here in New York it never stops.One lesson always leads to another to further the dog and revisit past lessons to help retain memory.I have a lot more work to do in blind retrieve areas for duck hunting for next season and yes I did fill archery tags.Magnum is becoming more solid in all areas.I wont hunt him after the 21st rifle will be open all over the state(safety first) but when it closes I hope to get some more ruffed grouse and rabbit/hare hunting in.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm an absolute zero when it comes to dog training. I bought some basic puppy training book when my yellow lab Chester was a tiny pup and crate broke him, house broke him, trained him to sit and fetch, and gun broke him. When he was old enough to hunt dove and ducks, his abilities were uncanny. I had nothing to do with that, but he has made me look like a pro in front of my birdhunting buddies for years now. I love that dog. In fact, I have a notion to buy a puppy now that Chester's old, and have HIM train the little one...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Having been laidoff early in the year , Field Trials and live bird training came off the list. Fortunately the club membership was paid up early in the year. So it's all about having fun and getting one bird at a time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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