So, You Got a Gun Dog Pup. Now What?

Recently I've received a few e-mails from newbie gun dog owners who have just picked up their pup. The common theme among the emails is simple: "What next?" Well, that would require that I write a book, and there are plenty of good books on gun dog training.

But I do have a single bit of advice--OBEDIENCE! But don't take my word for it. Here's what Connie Cleveland, founder of the Dog Trainer's Workshop in Fountain Inn, S.C., had to say about the topic when I asked her:

Basic obedience is the foundation for all training. A gun dog that is not obedient is of no use. Most of us, in our excitement to encourage our puppies to retrieve, either simply don't spend enough time on basic obedience, or do not have a high enough standard for the correct behaviors. Obviously, a young puppy can't be expected to be perfectly obedient. However, once the instinct to retrieve has been encouraged, the dog's ability to become a great gun dog is going to be directly related to his obedience skills.

Amen, Connie. It has been just under a year since I picked up Pritch from the breeder (photo above with the Chief Spoiler--my wife), and I'll admit I was much more concerned with retrieving skills than obedience. And I'm frequently reminded of this as we trod down Gun Dog Road. We're working out the kinks, but I can promise you it's a lot easier to correct your pup early than it is when some bad habits have taken hold.

That's my advice to the new parents of gun dog pups. Anyone else have anything to add?