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Old November 6, 2011, 08:54 AM   #1
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When to start training a pup for hunting.

I got a bloodhound/chocolate lab pup last week. He is only 8 weeks old so I know I got some time before I can start seriously training him for bird hunting.

This will be my first time training a dog and I was wondering if you guys had any pointers and when is a good time to start?

Also, any way to test how good his sniffer is? The momma (bloodhound) was petty good for finding raccoons, and the pappa (choc lab) was a decent bird dog from what I was told. I hope some of it rubbed of on my pup. Haha
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Old November 6, 2011, 09:50 AM   #2
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Haven't trained many dogs but

have been training young horses for years and a few dogs along the way.

Start as early as you like and the pup will tell you when he is mature enough to really learn. You can start teaching a pup the basics right now. By that I mean things like walking on a leash, coming when called, sit on command, etc.
You can also start working on "fetch" right now by playing with the pup's favorite toys.

Don't expect instant success and at this stage Praise, praise, praise when the pup is correct and just ask over again when he/she fails. If you try these things and the pup seems totally uninterested, backoff the lessons and give him/her a couple of weeks to gain some maturity.

I can tell you that one of the best horses I ever owned and a couple of the dogs were "slow learners" as youngsters but with a little maturity the lessons just clicked and then they never forgot.
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Old November 6, 2011, 10:50 AM   #3
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I have Coonhounds, and have hunted for several years.
Based on my own limited experience I have found that about 6 months to a year old is the best time to start training. If you put too much on them at too young of an age often times you will bore them.
At the age of your pup, its time for socialization, and soon it will be time for leash training.
Good luck with your pup.

I have one Coonhound, thats a Duel Champion, he is a Grand Nite, and Grand Show Champion. He is the best Coonhound I have ever hunted, and the kids get him out and play with him. My Daughtor even likes to paint his townails.
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Old November 6, 2011, 01:08 PM   #4
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Your pup needs to be obedience trained before you formally start training it for hunting. You need to be able to control it at home before you take it afield. If it don't come back to you at home each and every time you call it, it will be long gone once it hits the woods......believe me. Tip....a dog's name is not a "come" command. It is only to get their attention.

That said, introducing your pup to hunting informally can start anytime. Playing find and fetch games in the back yard using scents from the game you intend to hunt will familiarize you dog to what you want of him. It is also a good time to introduce hunting commands such as "go find", "give" and hand signals. But keep it play and keep it short. When your pup becomes disinterested, it's time to stop. Take your pup to the woods....on a check cord if you don't trust it. Introduce it to different situations and riding in the car/truck. You want it to associate the rides to fun. You need to train it how to ride under control in the car/truck without the stress or excitement of the hunt involved. At six months or so one can formally start more intense training, but again keep it short and fun for the dog. Losing your temper or forcing a dog at a young age can create bad habits that can take months if ever at all to undo. Before using any kind of shock collar, your dog MUST be obedience trained and completely understand what you are asking of it.

Good luck and have fun with your new pup.
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Old November 6, 2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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my mom used to breed yellow labs. we usually started "playing" with them at about 4 weeks or so(about the time we started advertising them). start throwing balls and bones for them...if you cant get them to fetch spread a little peanut butter on them. once they get fetching down use something that smells like what you want them to hunt(we kept goose or pheasant wings in the freezer for dog training but if you want it to be a coondog then some form of a raccoon will do.

here is were it gets tricky, you'll have to decide what kind of hunting dog you want the pup to be. if you want him to be a bird dog you'll have to teach him to follow smells and quarter or point without barking(pointing and quartering are more of an instinct thing and are very difficult to teach but not barking is pretty easy) but if you want him to be a hound dog then you want him to bark when he smells a raccoon or fox but this behavior will be detrimental for bird hunting.

8 weeks is a perfect time to start since he'll be at the height of his playful age and he will learn to associate hunting with playtime.

sitting, not barking and gunbreaking him are going to be the main things to teach a waterfowl dog. gunbreaking is your biggest concern for a hound dog.
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Old November 7, 2011, 09:45 AM   #6
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I'm not a dog trainer, but I've read the occasional article by trainers. It is not uncommon to see a recommendation to begin basic obedience training at around seven weeks. I'd guess that the rate of progress might well indicate the degree of success in training for hunting.
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Old November 7, 2011, 07:36 PM   #7
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Most gun dog breeders will start training a pup before it is sold or picked up by the client. Tossing bird wings and letting them play with them, but not tear them up is good for them.

At this age every thing needs to be positive. Get him/her a duck wing and a small bumper. Ziptie the wing to the bumper and throw it a few feet out. You should have your dog on a rope so you can real him/her in. Give them lots of praise and petting when you pull them back to you. It wont take long to get them going. Go slow and keep it fun and short, 10-15 minutes max.

I like to start obedience training at this age with a bag of the carry out treats, most dogs will do any thing for a treat. I break the treats up so they are just bite size and I can get a lot of millage out of one treat. I use it to teach sit and shake and here. A mistake that some people make is they call the dog to them and then punish them, never never to that. Always reward the dog for coming to you even if it is just a pat on the head.

The other training tool that I really like is a leash. All my pups start out on a leash that way I have a way to give an instant correction. Dogs have very short attention spans so instant correction is vital when training.

DO NOT BUY AN E-COLLAR UNTIL YOU GET SOME TRAINING ON HOW TO USE IT FROM A GOOD TRAINER. E-collars are a great and necessary tool when used correctly.

If you want more advice shoot me a PM and we can talk.
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Last edited by grubbylabs; November 7, 2011 at 07:42 PM.
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Old November 7, 2011, 08:08 PM   #8
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Play-train as soon as possible, serious training at 7 weeks, gradually increase the time after 3 months to 10 mins/day. Every day, every day, every day.
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Old November 7, 2011, 08:23 PM   #9
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8 weeks is a perfect time to start since he'll be at the height of his playful age and he will learn to associate hunting with playtime.
Start now and don't stop, every day. No negative reinforcement at all! Just possitive reinforcement.
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Old November 7, 2011, 09:04 PM   #10
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I enjoyed reading "Water Dog". It was a easy read with alot of good information. Their thinking is that you can not start a dog to early. Just take it slow and be consistent everyday with the training.
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