I was fortunate enough to attend our local NAVHDA chapter’s training day and even help out a bit. It was a very positive and supportive session. The young dogs all exhibited strong potential and as the upcoming test implies, natural ability. And of course, our leadership did yeoman’s duty on organizing the event and the logistics leading up to it.
fter having been away from puppy training for many years, what was striking was how many of the fundamentals of young-dog training are still the most important. The challenges young dogs faced yesterday haven’t changed since I ran Bill, Yankee, Buddy and Manny in NA:
1. Obedience – sure, it’s a puppy test, but consistently following basic commands not only aids in succeeding at the rest of the training challenges, it bonds owner and dog.
2. Socialization – whether with other dogs or humans, a young dog will perform better in the field and at a test when it is comfortable around others.
3. Bird contact – a dog that knows what a bird is and what to do around one, will be more confident in the field and apt to better follow directions. The NA test shouldn’t be their first exposure to birds.
4. Water – most of us may rationalize that we own an upland dog, but I guarantee the time will come for a water retrieve and if you are a true conservationist, it’s either you or your dog swimming in that icy pond.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. It’ll cost us time and money and more than a little aggravation. There are plenty of legitimate reasons these basics don’t get enough attention.
And it’s easy to say, not as easy to do these things – just ask Flick. But our commitment to our hunting partner requires them if both parties are to lead fulfilling lives in the field and at home. We hold all the cards, it is our responsibility. Going the extra mile to get our dog exposure to all four pays dividends for their – and our – entire life.