For all the new trainers out there who think they should go it on their own I am going to have to say, don't do it! Most folks here know the story of my hunting lab Bella. Short story. Failed force fetch at a well know kennel. I was told to buy another dog and sell her off. I am stubborn, called BS, and went about teaching her on my own. I used water dog and worked her for a couple months before season last year. By the end of season I had ok hunting dog. We spent all last summer training and working on her skills. We got to this season and Bella decided that sit to flush and sit to shot were no longer on her agenda. She handles ok, and will make very long retrieves. Blinds are a bit tough, but she handles ok there as well.
With her breaking at the shot I cue'd in tons of research, a lot of soul searching, and a decision to not only collar condition her, but move to an actual training program. I starter with Total E Collar Training by Mike Lardy for her collar conditioning process. I then picked up a few Smartworks videos and took her back to the basics after her collar conditioning. Now mind, Bella knows casting, and handling and does ok at them. I still took her back to the basics well after our season started. We take 15 minutes and train every day. Hunting day or not it doesn't matter, we train anyways. The videos showed me exactly what I had missed in my training and what she needs to be come a much better hunting companion. Simple things like working left and right casting in the 3 handed casting training process. Properly teaching over, which I completely screwed up. She she still managed to figure out and do it well.
I cannot emphasize this enough for folks. Buy a few videos at a time or all of them at once and use them from the time your dog is a pup. I am presently working and correcting things that could have been dealt with last year. An entire series of training can be had for $100 to $200 bucks. That is less than one vet visit costs me.
Bella knows most of what we are working on and is blowing right through the training sessions. One of the huge things the videos taugh me was..... that I am the majority of the problem. Either through ignorance or impatience and not understanding the dog and her needs I am the problem. I have been messing up her training and thus her field behaviors and it really isn't fair to hold her to a standard I haven't set in her training. Pretty much everything she is doing wrong is entirely my fault. The videos and having her on a training program is rapidly fixing most of the issues we have been having. One of the biggest things I learned was to step back a step or two and simplify things when the dog is struggling. It just means I failed to train the dog properly on the last step or two. Once she gets those steps down she is ready for the next one.
The guys who constantly harp on having a program are correct. I am seeing Bella move in leaps and bounds towards becoming a great field dog. She loves the training time we spend everyday and so do I. It costs very little money to get a complete set of training videos, and not a lot more to get the books to go with them. It is money well invested
Decoy Setting Pro Staff
Boat Operator Pro Staff
Duck Shooting Pro Staff
Warm Towel Pro Staff
Snack Supply Pro Staff
He works for free! Who's the B now?