I recently got the chance to spend a few days in Aberdeen, South Dakota, pheasant hunting with the good folks from Pheasants Forever. It was a wonderful experience that I’ll touch on again in the future, but what I wanted to focus on today is something that Bob St. Pierre (photo), PF’s vice-president of marketing and an avid gundogger, said to me as we were following our dogs along an old fencerow.

Bob’s dog, a well-trained three-year-old GSP named Trammell (after Detroit Tigers shortstop legend Alan Trammell) was methodically working, trying hard to ignore Jenny, my seven-month-old setter pup. She was racing back and forth out in front of the line doing her best impression of an all-age trial dog. She had no idea what she was supposed to be doing, but she was doing nothing with style.

It was obvious, however, that Jenny’s puppy antics were hampering Trammell’s ability to hunt, and even though I was pleased with how my pup was finally beginning to stretch out her range (something I’d been hoping to see) I offered to put her back on lead. Bob would have none of it.

“Don’t worry about that at all,” he said. “She’s doing fine. You know Chad, you should never worry about how other people view your dog as long as your dog is doing what you want her to do and hunting how you want her to hunt. So just let her run.”

Now dog training can be about as (pardon the pun) dogmatic a subject as there is. There are literally hundreds of methods, programs, philosophies and schools of thought, each with its own rigidly defined canon of what you should and shouldn’t do and how you should and shouldn’t do it. And to be quite honest, it can be damn confusing sorting through it all. But regardless of what program or philosophy you follow, Bob’s words ring true: train to what you want to accomplish, and don’t worry about the rest of it.