I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a true amateur when it comes to gun-dog training. In the last 10 months I’ve learned a hell of a lot, but I’d love to be able to rewind the clock a bit and correct my mistakes–which are legion. No such luck. But if you’re just starting out, I asked three highly regarded gun-dog experts the most common mistakes amateur trainers make with their new pups. Here’s what they had to say:

My choice would cover those training pointers, flushers, and retrievers. Folks try to train without using birds. It does not work out. Wild birds are better, but pen raised and pigeons will do the job. –Steve Snell, Owner of Gun Dog Supply

Not following through, usually due to lack of knowledge and experience. The dog will act up and the owner will let the dog get away with not complying with a command. They don’t know how to get the correction or don’t think it will matter. An example would be delivery to hand. Often the dog will drop the bumper or bird on the ground and the handler, not knowing how to get the correction, will pick the bird up themselves rather than teach the pup to put it in their hand. –Pam Kadlec of Just Ducky Kennels and author of Retriever Training For Spaniels

Most amateurs don’t begin with the end in mind because they’re not sure what they want from a dog in two years. There are a number of things they need to decide before they begin training, but one of the most important is what training methodology they want to use? Dogs are creatures of habit and switching from one methodology to another just confuses them. You have to link from one building block to the next. Get focused and be consistent. –Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels, home to Ducks Unlimited’s mascots, Deke and Drake.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much guilty of the above sins. Thank goodness I have a dog that makes me look smarter than I am. Any of you made these same mistakes, or have others that you’d like to add to the list? Let’s hear them.