Friday, July 02, 2010

Hunting Dog Socialization 101

Long before you can tackle the art of training your hunting dog, you will start the necessary process of socialization. In a nutshell, socialization is introducing the dog to new people, places, things, and experiences in an effort to help the dog adjust to new situations well. We have all seen the dog that become skittish whenever you enter a new environment. The goal of socialization is too avoid behavior changes that accompany new places or events and build your dog’s confidence. It also establishes a foundation upon which all other training will build. In the end, this process will have created a companion that can roll with the punches on and off the hunt.

Bringing Home Puppy

Your brand new puppy will arrive to your home excited, but wary. More than likely the pup will feel out of sorts and lost. However, most puppies quickly realize your home holds new adventures. Keeping a close eye, allow the dog to explore his new surroundings. Keep in mind that puppies can be destructive (in many ways), so it is important to take precautions with valuables. Also, although you will be watching, keep a bit of distance to allow the dog to experience the surroundings without your constant shadow. The puppy will return to you soon enough, at which point you should shower him with love and affection. Any attention should be calm; stick with back or head rubs and using his name while you are petting. At this point, playing competitive games (like a tug of war) or rough-housing is not recommended, simply because it can send a message to the pup that you are buddies on equal footing, instead of establishing you as the boss.

Going Outside

In the outdoors, give the pup plenty of freedom to explore, as long as it is safe. Allow him to explore as you watch from a distance. Right away, you can begin using his name and calling to him to come. If he obeys, reward him with a small treat, and then allow him to return to his exploration.

Puppy Place

Your new puppy needs to have a space that he knows is his. It may be a crate in the home or a kennel of some sort outdoors. It should be a place where the dog feels safe and secure. It should not be a place where the dog is sent after misbehavior, but instead it should be associated with good things. Many owners choose to feed puppies within the crate for this very reason. It is important to train the dog to sleep at night within the crate. Whining should not be rewarded with your attention, as it teaches the dog to whine again whenever he wants or needs something. It is certainly not easy to listen to the whining, but it should last just a few nights before he realizes the whining will not work.

Introducing the Family

Your family needs to know the process of socializing and training the pup. It is very important that they expect the same behavior from the dog as you do. In most cases, misbehavior can be followed by a calm, but firm “NO.” At some point, you or a family member may be tempted to yell, but this can often confuse a dog and make them more excitable. Also, hunting dogs will need to become comfortable with loud noises, so do not clap or use other loud noises in discipline. Instead, grab the skin between his shoulders and lightly shake the dog. This motion is uncomfortable enough to be unpleasant to the dog, but does not hurt him or make him afraid.

Related Gundog Articles:

Introducing Your Puppy To Hunting

Crate Training A New Puppy

How to Choose a Gundog Puppy From a Litter

Training Your Hunting Dogs and Kids

Retriever Puppy Training Tips


dog foods said...

I got a Labrador basically because I want to do hunting in uplands. Do you think they are good hunters compared to other hunting dogs? Also, do you have any suggestion for dog foods that I can give my Lab in order to be good in hunting?

Unknown said...

Labs are one of the most popular breeds in the world because of their versatility. A lab is an excellent choice for hunting upland gamebirds. In regards to dog foods, stay away from companies like: They are not really interested in what's best for your dog. They just want you to visit the site and click on their ads so they post bogus comments on reputable blogs and websites with stupid questions. The fact of the matter is the poster could care less about the dog and the content. They want people to click on their ads. Shame on them.

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