Jump to content

    If you want access to members only forums on HSO, you will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member. ?

Tips for a pups first season


Recommended Posts

My male chocolate lab is 6 months old right now. He has mastered sit,stay,come, is gun trained, and loves to retrieve both on land and in water. My question is, are there any tips for a first year dog to make it a successful first season?

I will primarily use him for duck hunting and pheasant hunting. Thanks in advance for the tips

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Believe the dogs nose when you are pheasant hunting. Can't tell you how many times I've wanted to work a certain piece of cover but the dog wanted to go another way. The dog is usually right. Get or make a skunk spray kit, and have a protective vest for your dog. Barbed wire is hidden in some.crazy spots, and will rip a dogs chest, face, or legs wide open. Try to train the dog to stop or avoid barbed wire. Carry a small ziplock bag to use as a water bowl in the field instead of pouring out your bottle and wasting half of it while the dog tries to drink it on the way down, also helps to prevent bloat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best advise I can give and your not going to like it but, continue training your dog this fall and hunt him next year when he's alot more mature and really ready. At 6 monthes they haven't MASTERED anything yet, will he be steady on the flush or will he chase and will you be able to stop him if he does? Definatly put him on birds this fall but do it in a controlled situation, get him steady to the flush with his upland training and shoot him a bunch of live flyers. Mine don't hunt untill there around 18 monthes by that time theve had 50+ flyers shot for them and have picked up 1000+ dead birds, then I feel there ready to sit in the blind.

But if you must then the next best advise I can give is to put your gun in the cabinet for the year and handle your dog, with no more than a couple other shooters..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll respectfully disagree with Todd. I had Remy on birds at four months old, and hunted him for an entire fall. We trained hard during the summer, and he got perfect score Prize 1s in both his NA and UT. We're heading to the invitational next fall.

If your dog has the goods, hunting him early won't necessarily ruin anything. Just don't put too much pressure on it! Keep things fun! You're building drive and excitement. There will be time to crank on the training next spring/summer.

Being a young pup, I'd get him out hunting as much as possible, and on as many birds as possible. There is no better training tool than wild birds. They don't take crowding lightly, and they do things planted birds don't do. You'll be amazed at how much your dog changes from his first hunt to his last hunt this fall.

Your first few hunts, go solo: just you and the dog. Later, if you feel comfortable, socialize him with other dogs and other hunters. Be prepared to leash your dog during these hunts, however. Some people don't like a young dog running around in the decoys (understandably). Let your pup watch other seasoned dogs do some work. Make him jealous! If the opportunity presents itself, let him make a retrieve. Always try and set your dog up for success!

If your dog has been collar conditioned, use it, but sparingly. I used mine as a little reminder that when I said "come" I meant it. Great way to stop a dog from chasing a bird (and a good way to learn the "no bird" command, too). I'll stress that you need to collar condition the dog first, however. E-collars can be a fantastic tool in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, but can be disastrous in the hands of a novice.

Keep your expectations LOW and your praise meter HIGH. Don't get on the dog unless it's doing something dangerous, otherwise just simply ignore it. When it makes a good retrieve or finds a bird, praise the ever loving bejeezus out of it. I mean REALLY praise it. Like the dog just dug up a brand new shotgun, or found tickets to the Super Bowl. You want no doubt in its mind that what it did (retrieved a bird, found a bird, came when you called) is exactly what you want him to be doing. Dogs catch on quick.

You're going to hear advice from both ends of the field. Guys like Todd don't like to hunt dogs who haven't been darn near finished. I, on the other hand, figure it's a darn hunting dog -- what's the point of not hunting it? Remy will be 3 next May, and will have three full falls of hunting under his collar. I can say, without a doubt, I wouldn't have changed that for the world. Seeing a 4 month old dog go on a flash point is priceless, and watching it try to wrangle a bird nearly half its size is a hoot.

In the end, use YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT. You've trained your dog. You know what it can handle. Learn to read it and know its limitations. If you have any doubts, follow your gut. No need to push things the first fall.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never been a fan of using hunting as a training session UNLESS you are not hunting, but going as a handler. If you are willing to commit to 'training' during a day of hunting and let your buddy do all the gun handling, then I say go for it.

I am a firm believer in putting a dog through the training process 1st and get them into as many 'hunting' scenarios as you can, prior to cutting them loose on wild birds and 'true' hunting.

With that said, I believe age is not carved in stone. A younger dog maybe able to handle some hunting situations, while some older dogs may not be able to handle any situations. If they have been exposed to what it is you are going to expect of them, they will probably get through the day and progressively get better on each hunt.

I would say on average, my dogs are 9-12 months when I beging to bring them into the 'hunting' fold. I want force fetch down, steadiness down and rock solid obedience, along with intro to birds, guns, decoys, cover, quartering etc... before we hit the field. Too many opportunities to develop bad habits or get into precarious situations without having a solid foundation prior to their first hunt. I try and limit their hunts to opportunites where I know they will have bird contact and then I keep it short at first progressing to longer stretches as the season allows.

Good Luck!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now ↓↓↓ or ask your question and then register. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.