A hunting partner can make your experience outdoors infinitely more memorable. Having your beloved dog by your side can make hunting easier and more enjoyable. You’ll start training your dog to hunt the moment you get their wriggling body in your arms. Each breed and individual dog will develop at their own pace, so expect to take things slow the first year.
Socialization is everything when raising a puppy, but even more so if you plan to take your dog out hunting and camping. Hunting dogs have to be comfortable in unfamiliar places with thousands of different scents and sounds. Take your puppy everywhere during the first few months, and make sure you let plenty of people stop to pet them and give them love.
Focus on positive reinforcement as you leash or harness-train; don’t yank or pull. Instead, use treats and movement to encourage cooperation and teamwork. Walk only when your puppy is by your side. This will take time, so you have to be patient and ready to spend a lot of moments simply waiting for them to stop gnawing on their leash.
Enroll your dog in a puppy training class as soon as they’re old enough, which is usually around 16 weeks, after they’ve had all their shots. Your dog will continue its socialization in this class as well as learn how to follow simple commands. The primary task you’ll want to focus on is getting your dog to come and stop when it’s told.
Start teaching them the “hup” command; this is a phrase used in the field that teaches your dog to sit as soon as he hears the phrase, no matter where he is. Abrupt stops and starts are necessary when hunting; this will be the most crucial aspect of your hunting partner’s training.
Whether you’re blackbuck antelope hunting or just going local for deer, you need a dog that hangs on your every word and adheres to your command without a second of hesitation.
Work on Task Training
As your pup starts to master the basic commands, you can begin to introduce task-based training. For Pointers, this will be tapping into their instincts and getting them more comfortable with tracking. Retrievers should be training with scented bumpers and bringing them back to you, at least most of the way. Field dogs need to learn how to pattern back and forth, first on a cord-leash and then on their own.
Consulting with a professional trainer early in your dog’s hunting career can help you come up with a good plan that will see them through their first year of life.